Adventures in Oral...

Not my mouth. 

...ORAL SURGERY. Ha! Did I have you going for a minute or what?

Yes, I had oral surgery this week. I had to have a tooth extracted. Ironically enough, it is exactly 2 years after I had my very first root canal, on the very same tooth.

I'm having trouble processing this whole thing. For some reason it's almost shameful to me, to have had this happen. Like I told my homegirl Danielle, I feel like this is the first step towards becoming a toothless, bearded hag.

I actually wept in the chair yesterday, and not because of pain. This time around, there was zero pain although it turns out I had a pretty serious infection. The beauty of having issues with a root-canaled (?) tooth, I guess. No, I cried because of the shame. I mean, who has to have a tooth pulled? I pictured meth addicts and Ted Kaczynski-type people. Or little kids who are put to bed in their cribs with bottles of Mountain Dew. Not middle aged suburban moms who drink fluoridated water and have great dental insurance.

But there I was, wiping tears away as the left side of my face became numb and number. My new dentist and the hygienist were very kind and offered me Kleenex and put comforting hands on my shoulders. They assured me that aside from that janky, broken tooth, the rest of my mouth was great and this type of tooth trauma can happen to anyone, not just people who play the banjo on the front porch of a dilapidated hunting shack in the backwoods of Georgia (sorry my Georgian friends, but I will take any chance to use a Deliverance reference).

So here's what happened: about three weeks ago, my tooth broke. I was chewing gum and I felt it happen. It was the farthest back molar on the lower left side. Now, most normal people would think, "Holy hell. I'm pretty sure that was a tooth breaking. I'd better call my dentist now and get in there." But, I'm not most normal people, am I? It was an extremely busy week of work, and I am probably the world's most anxious person in general, let's not even begin to describe the heart palpitations I get when it comes to anything invasive (literally, anything). I've been told by a therapist that victims of childhood abuse often experience this kind of medical/dental anxiety, so there's a valid reason for my nuttiness. But you know who doesn't care how scared you are? A BROKEN TOOTH. It doesn't sense your discomfort and say, "Yo. It's cool. I'll just seal myself up and we can both avoid being poked and prodded. Okay?"

No. The tooth is very much honey badger in that it doesn't give a shit. It's broken! No shits left to give as far as old Timmy the Tooth is concerned.

I worked up my courage and called the dentist. My former dentist. I was 3/4 of the way through the initial appointment when the receptionist peeked her head into the room and giggled, "Oh em gee Jenny! Guess what I just found out...we are now out of your network! Sorry!" I failed to see the humor in the situation. My former dentist sighed, and said "So I guess you're going to need some referrals." I nodded, and mumbled, "Probably a prescription for painkillers, too." Because although the mouth wasn't hurting I was pretty sure untangling the bill and doing the insurance-two-step with Giggle Pants was going to be a giant pain in my ass.

Thanks to Delta Dental's fab website, finding a new dentist was easy and in the long run, is going to be a good thing. The first thing she said after looking inside my maw was "So, you obviously grind your teeth at night." This was news to me. I laughed and said, "No way, my dentist never mentioned that before..." New Dentist shook her head and pointed at the computer screen where the ethereal x-rays of my mouth were displayed. "Here, and here, and all along here-" She made circle motions over the pictures of my shadowy teeth. "You have little tiny fractures in all of these molars. And that's most likely what caused this one tooth" here, she placed her index finger on the picture of my broken chomper, "to break down. It was already weakened by the root canal. And, whoever performed that root canal, by the way, didn't do a very good job."

She smiled and said to me, "I can't believe nobody has mentioned your grinding to you." I was torn because there were so many places I could go with that statement. But I decided to respond, "You know what, for the past several years my most consistent bed mate has been a dog. And he's totally not Scooby Doo. So there's never been a time when he's elbowed me awake and said Rut Roh Renny! Rinding reeth again!" She laughed in a way which I'm sure was not uncomfortable or forced at all and then laid it on me.

"At first I thought we could save it. But now I see it's cracked completely down the middle." She looked at me and said the words I was dreading:

"We have to take it out."

Jumpin' Jack Flash started playing in my head along with images of the witch-as-old-lady in Snow White.

I've prided myself on being intact after all these decades of living. On not having to take medications or have anything replaced and on being, for the most part, insanely healthy. This did not fit into my plan.

It had to happen, though. Aside from the fact that I had a broken tooth and an infection, there was also the matter of my stanky mouth. I was pretty sure my breath was starting to smell like the restroom in a poorly managed Old Country Buffet. My friends and family assured me that it wasn't true, but it's hard to ignore something that is literally under your nose. And there were moments when I know for sure it wasn't orchids and unicorn glitter farts I was smelling. To those of you who may own stock in the Eclipse gum company, YOU'RE WELCOME.

I had the procedure performed yesterday. It was relatively painless, and I even got to watch part of Legally Blonde while it happened. After all was said and done, we discussed fun things like saltwater gargling and dental implants and then my dentist said, "I think you deserve a cocktail tonight. But not if you take a Vicodin, okay?" talk about a no-brainer, right? Martini for the win. 

I love her.

Today I woke up with just a little extra chin and cheek, not much pain and a blessedly feces-free mouth. I was also filled with gratitude. I'm grateful for health insurance, for paid sick days, for flexible and caring coworkers, for sweet dentists who know what they're doing and for my loved ones who put up with my porta-potty breath.

Now I just need to survive the next couple of days, what with doctor's orders like "soft foods" and "no sucking". I've never wanted to inhale a bag of Stacy's pita chips so bad in my life. I'll let you guys take the sucking comment and go to town with it, okay? I'm still focused on the grinding thing.


Pots, Kettles and Strangers on the Internet

You'd think by now I'd know better. When I see little bursts of traffic coming to my blog from certain sites, you'd think I would have learned to just leave it alone. The last time I snooped on one of these mystery sources it turned out to be a weird culty website full of fapping basement dwellers who had made a bunch of hysterical memes using my headshot from HuffPost. They were all in a tizzy because I wrote about one of my kid's brushes with Amway and were having a field day on their cuckoo little internet hangout (which, by the way, was done in neon purple letters on a black background; it hurt my old hag eyes reading all of those insults).

But I don't know better. Apparently I'm one of those slow-learner types. Because when I happened to see my blog traffic spiking like crazy one day and noticed that it was coming from one of my favorite fellow blogger's sites, Chump Lady, I was all "oooh let me go take a look-see and find out what's cooking!" 

Chump Lady has been several things to me over the past few years: an inspiration, a source of comfort, a guaranteed laugh when I needed it most, and a huge supporter of my writing. She's recommended my stuff several times and I'm always happy to recommend her work to people. Always.

So when I discovered that the swarms of clicks were coming from a pretty hateful little thread in one of her comment sections, I was taken aback. Literally: I think my head did one of those cartoon jerk-back movements.

I'm not going to post a link to the exact post because dammit I do have some pride. But I will disclose what it was about: one of Chump Lady's readers apparently read my blog upon her recommendation. And this particular reader declared something like this:

I liked Happy Hausfrau until I came upon this post (cue my first SAY WHAT?):  she then linked to something I wrote a long time ago about one of the fellas in my life. It was about the one named Andy, the man I had a short but intense relationship with before I ended up married to Big Daddy.

This Chump reader decided that I was a hypocrite. She and another reader then went to town, calling me lots of fun names and basically saying that what went down during that summer put me on the same level as my ex. And all the other exes they discuss on Chump Lady's site.

One guy in particular seemed very upset with me. It appeared as though he kept coming back here, reading more and then going back to deposit little vitriolic comments about my character. At one point he described me as a "steaming pile of shit". That's a new one for me, by the way.

At first I was defensive and hurt and considered chiming in with a "Hey! You're WRONG! I'm NOTHING like those other people!"

But then I read the Andy post with different eyes. And I could see where someone might come to the conclusion that yes, yes indeed I was one of them. I was a rationalizing asshole who cheated on a loved one.

Except, no. I wasn't.

If anybody understands what it's like to see things with an angry, jaundiced eye, it's me. I still, to this day, can't read anything or watch anything about affairs and mistresses and cliched stories about "I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore" type divorces without interjecting my own hurts and sadness into it. I GET IT. Being figuratively shat upon by someone you loved and trusted turns your rose-colored glasses into a more brownish hue.

But, what I did 25 years ago in that sweaty Uptown apartment doesn't even come close to what my ex-husband, and countless other exes, have done. Was it honorable? Decent? Fair? Probably not.

Did it break up a marriage?
Did it ruin one person financially, emotionally and spiritually?
Did it take four innocent children's lives and play a game of Yahtzee with them?

Nope. It was a flighty 24 year old in an off-and-on-again relationship (during one of those "off" times) falling for someone else.

There were no vows.
There were no kids.
There was nobody living together. Cripes, there wasn't even anyone DATING at the time it all went down.

In the Andy post I did do some musing about whether or not what I did could be construed as cheating, and at one point I believe I surmised that yes, I guess it could. I came to that declaration because I had been dating Big Daddy for a while prior to what happened that summer and he was still carrying a pretty big torch for me when all of this went down.

What I didn't write about in that post was the fact that Big Daddy knew about Andy. He and I had discussed the state of our relationship and dating other people and at one point I just flat-out told him. Not only told him I was seeing someone else, I told him the guy's name. They met, at my apartment one night. Big Daddy would sometimes drop in because this was before cell phones and internet and there was no way to shoot someone a little text giving them a heads up (although some of my friends still do that terrifying ambush "pop in" and there is so much awkwardness).

He did one of his drop ins one night, and as we were standing at the front door of my apartment, Andy showed up. He showed up because we were going out that night. If I remember correctly, they introduced themselves to each other, Big Daddy gave me a wan and kind of heartbreaking smile and said "Have fun" and then left. and now I'm wondering if this is weird, the fact that I can recall almost every single detail of that evening and yet cannot remember to pay my freaking utilities bill.

When you write online, and especially when you write about your personal life, there are always going to be critics. There will be trolls who troll and lurkers who lurk and really cool people who relate. What there is never going to be, is 100% transparency. Nobody is ever going to know everything. Sweet Jesus, even I can't remember squat and I'm the one who lived it.

What really sucks, though, is that you are going to be judged and sometimes, sentenced, by strangers who think they know it all. You might get your face photoshopped onto a picture of a porn actress doing her thing (yeah, that was the basement dwellers) or you might have some oddly angry guy on a divorce blog compare you to a fresh pile of feces.

If you have feelings, some of it will bother you.

If you have a brain, you will understand that none of it really matters.

It makes me happy that both of those thing apply to me in this case. I'm not a saint, not by any stretch of anyone's imagination. But I'm not a Big Daddy. And I never will be.

Before I close, I have to give my girl Chump Lady a shout out. She's awesome and I know her readers are fiercely loyal. This in no way diminishes my opinion or feelings about her, her (mostly) awesome fans and her oh-so-helpful blog and books. Please check her out if you haven't already. But if you happen to see someone referring to me as a poop head, do me a solid and let it pass.

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