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Plan B: Another Chance

Friday, March 20, 1999

Once again, I saw Dr. Zwickert, the general practicioner I had sought out last November.

The reasoning behind this was that I had decided I would keep running from dentists to neurologists and back for the rest of my life if I continued like this, without one "impartial" doctor guiding and channeling the efforts. (There's a saying: "When you're holding a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.")

Briefly, I explained to Dr. Zwickert what had gone on since my last visit to his offices and I asked him to take charge. I gave him the diagnosis I had received from Dr. Lorenz and he took charge, by prescribing carbamazepin again (as suggested in the diagnosis), this time in the form of "Carba 200" -- three pills a day, to make my nervous system recover from the neuralgia. He said that the galvanic therapy with the "tens" device struck him as too tough right now and that we should begin with just the carbamazepin.

It was initially hard to get the medication, but on Saturday, I began taking the pills again. Sure enough, by Saturday afternoon my speech was slurred, I had problems making sense of sentences and looking straight -- everything was seemingly drifting around me.

Worst of all, I was trying to complete a piece for work -- something which would have taken me two hours under ordinary circumstances -- and could barely get it done in two days. Not only did I feel bad, I felt stupid. Sunday's a blur of which I have but the vaguest recollections.

Monday, March 22, 1999

Another appointment with Dr. Zwickert. He asked how I felt. I couldn't even look straight into his face and told him how I felt: miserable. He wrote me a medical notice taking me off work for the week. I was supposed to keep taking the medicine but try to find a dosage I could live with. Casually, somewhere along the consultation, he dropped a comment that he would be off to a vacation starting Wednesday.

During the consultation, I asked him whether there was the possibility that a nerve left from the root canal was causing the pain. He said there was that possibility and told me to see the head doctor in the dental clinic and ask.

Thus I did exactly that, or rather, I tried to: I saw Dr. Hennies, asked him to set up an appointment with the head doctor (Dr. Eckardt, just to keep you linked in context) and Dr. Hennies asked for the reason.

I told him of my grand theory, he showed me my x-rays and I saw it had been a stupid question to ask. There was no nerve left in that area. I began to wonder whether it had been such a bright idea to ask Dr. Zwickert to coordinate these efforts.

Seeing that the pain hadn't let up and that I was now acting like a drugged-out zombie, Dr. Hennies began to look for a new approach.

Maybe this whole thing wasn't caused either by a stray nerve nor a tooth running amuck, but maybe my clenched jaw was the answer? Perhaps it wasn't a dental problem at all, but a problem of cramped muscles and a maligned jaw bone? Recapitulating that the worst outbreaks of pain always happened at moments of supreme stress, this might be possible.

Dr. Hennies and I agreed I should check with the prothetics dept.

Tuesday, March 23, 1999

Since the carbamazepin made a 12-hour-sleeper out of me, I missed the opening hours of the prothetics department -- by half an hour. Dizzy, I rode back home. (Of course I was still riding on my bike! Who asked that question?)

My mother had an association called the "Green Cross" send me a leaflet titled "Don't fear the Pain" by Dr. Dietmar Krause. It starts with this, rather reassuring, first paragraph (all highlighting is mine):

[...] Experts assume that in this country, approximately 7.5 million people suffer from chronical pain. Often, this is a big psychological weight for the people affected. Their continuous suffering reduces the quality of their lives to such an extent that every year, more than 3,000 people find only one way out: Suicide. Every one of these fates is a defeat for our health system, because almost always the pain could have been removed or at least lessened. [...]

That evening, I called her and asked her what kind of gentle hints she was trying to drop. She was shocked. And she had a bucketload of well-meant advice for me. Well-meant, for sure, but too much. A new resolve formed inside my head. A very strong wish.

Please, everybody who knows me and who is neither a doctor nor somebody who suffers from a very similar ailment, stop sending me suggestions what I ought to do or shouldn't do!!! Currently I am swamped with suggestions, most of them contradictory (true example: "Don't sleep too much, it's not healthy" vs. "Sleeping long hours is good, it gives your body a chance to recover").

I'm going to hear the medical doctors first, then the witch doctors, then the crack casualty on the street and THEN I'm going to abide to my friends' and family's suggestions.

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Due to some prompting from Dr. Hennies, I went back to the prothetics dept, where they still had to finish adjusting the grind guard which was already showing its first signs of wear. The doctor, Mr. Schwanewede, reminded me that he had told me to come back after seven days, not a month (ouch).

We discussed the crackpot theory Dr. Hennies and I had come up with. He thought it sounded feasible. In fact, he gave me a transfer to the physical therapy department (which is not in the dental clinic, but in the main clinic, the main clinic being a couple of steps away from the dental clinic, hence rendering this parenthetical observation moot).

He also suggested I begin taking a pain killer which simultaneously acts as a relaxant, Diazepam (more commonly known as Valium).

This was when I started to hesitate. Taking valium at a time where I was already swallowing pills which made me feel tired and stupid didn't seem like the best idea to me and remember, I am stupid.

Surprisingly, Mr. Schwanewede understood my concerns and consulted with Dr. Hennies and the other dental surgeons. When he returned, they had come up with Plan B.

Plan B was not to take me off the carbamazepin for now and not to give me the pain killers but to send me to phsyical therapy and to subject me to an intensive one- to two-hour examination of my jaw at the earliest possible date, that being... May 7, 1999.

Hearing the date, I was crestfallen, but I walked to the physical therapy ward, only to hear that the doctor I wanted to talk to, the jaw specialist, Dr. Fink (no laughing, anglophiles), was on vacation and thus unavailable until Easter. I got an appointment for the earliest possible date... April 7, 1999.

So now I am waiting for my appointments to happen. There is a tiny chance that I get the jaw examination tomorrow (Friday), but I will have to call at 8:30 a.m. in the morning and nothing is certain.

Here I am, then, in pain, feeling funny (funny strange, not funny ha ha, to paraphrase Ellen DeGeneres), and going to stay that way for a while.

Remind me, please: What was the "only way out" found by three thousand people every year?

(Just kidding. Please keep your alarmed "oh my gosh you are not going to kill yourself over this" e-mails to yourselves. Thanks.)

"A lot of drugs and a little hope."

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"The Continuing Health Crisis" is an 100% true account of MOATMAI's health problems. It is intended to keep all friends and enemies informed about his current status. The Whole FAQ.

First Visit? You might want to check out the summary before continuing.

Current Status: The root canal, it is done. The tooth is dead. And the pain? Well...

The whole mess began in June, 1997. The Whole Tooth starts here.

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This Section Last Updated: 2002/01/02

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