THE WHOLE TOOTH  how my health went to hell

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Living With The Consequences

July 1999

Over the following weekend, my condition didn't improve much. The tooth continued to hurt and what was worse, I became wary of myself, uneasy whether the ache was psychosomatic -- whether my nerves were just panicking without good reason -- or whether this was real pain.

Even worse, I stopped trusting in the medical competence of dentists. How could a gaggle of dental surgeons prod and probe my mouth for over a year without any of them ever noticing the tremendous cavity forming right under their eyes? To top everything off, Dr. Seewald seemed to have made some kind of horrible mistake.

Finally, decided that I would certainly not find out the cause for these problems by sitting in front of a computer screen and worrying myself sick.

On Monday, July 26, 1999, I called Dr. Zwickert's office to fix an appointment. Maybe he would have some advice about this situation? I left work early and rode down to his office.

Somewhat confused, Dr. Zwickert listened to my impromptu report about the latest developments. I showed him the x-rays given to me by Dr. Seewald. It took him a while to realize that we were no longer talking about the left side of my jaw, but the right-hand side.

My idea was to ask the dental clinic to give me a diagnostic injection which would help determine whether the pain radiated from my gums (and my teeth) or whether the ache came from a muscle or joint.

Dr. Zwickert prescribed a pain killer and told me to go ahead with my plan.

On Tuesday, July 27, 1999, I left the office at 1 p.m. and walked across the street into the dental clinic, to tell Dr. Hennies about my latest calamity. To my surprise, I faced Mrs. Bock instead -- I had met her in November of 1998 and she had left a very favorable impression.

When I told her about Dr. Seewald's filling laced with clove extract, Mrs. Bock frowned. According to her, this technique was long outdated; the dental clinic didn't use it since its effect was more often to kill the nerves than to allow them to recover.

Her matter-of-factness was rather refreshing and reassuring. Mrs. Bock suggested she should probably open the tooth -- judging from my description, she feared that Dr. Seewald's operation had indeed touched and exposed the nerve of tooth number 17.

Hesitantly, I let her proceed. She opened the fillings, was unhappy with what she saw, but determined that even though the nerve indeed lay exposed, it might recover. She covered the opening with a special substance (calcium hydrous chloride, if I recall correctly), which is designed to incite the nerve to reseal itself. Then, she filled the tooth with four portions of filling cement, which according to her was a record.

The final verdict, whether this last-ditch effort to save the nerve of tooth number 17 had been successful or not, would take about half a year to arrive -- it would take that long for the nerve to build up a protective layer against the opening. I was then told to return the following week so Mrs. Haker could determine with a simple test whether the nerve had survived the ordeal or not -- Mrs. Bock was leaving for the holidays.

For the next two days, my teeth kept hurting.

On Friday, July 30, 1999, I called Dr. Zwickert to ask whether I should continue to take the pain killers he had prescribed, which he recommended. When I asked him for an appointment on the following Monday, he laughed: It turned out that he would be taking a vacation for three weeks.

After Dr. Seewald and Mrs. Bock, Dr. Zwickert was now the third doctor to leave for a vacation shortly after I saw her/him. I fought down a minor paranoia attack -- it was a hot and stuffy summer, after all. The following Monday, I went back to the dental clinic, since the pain in the upper left corner of my jaw was getting worse and worse.

Mrs. Bock had already left for her vacation and Mrs. Haker wasn't on duty; thus I met one Dr. Sohrabi, a small, young and energetic dentist with an earnest frown. Unceremoniously, he examined my mouth and promptly found a pocket right behind tooth number 17 which he proceeded to clean out -- without an anesthetic. According to him, the pocket was six millimeters deep -- one would be normal. (This was the first time anybody told me that I have deep pockets.) He then filled the pocket with a foul-tasting medicinal ointment to prevent infections.

I was about to leave the clinic, when a huge wave of pain crashed over me and I almost collapsed. I returned to the doctor, who gave me a mild sedative (parecetamol). Unfortunately, the pain killers didn't work as advertised.

Two days later, I saw myself forced to return to the dental clinic -- at 9 p.m., for emergency service. The pain was so unbearable that I couldn't even think straight. A young doctor-in-training was on duty. She looked at my gums, injected a sedative into the area, cleaned the pocket again and suggested I ought to take some medicine against the pain for the next couple of days. The good news: According to her, the pocket didn't seem to be inflamed or infected; she couldn't really tell why I was suffering so much. The sedative calmed me down for three hours. When the pain came back, it was much less severe and nowhere near the level it had been before Dr. Sohrabi took care of it.

August 1999

For the next weeks, I tried to adjust to a new two-tier pain situation. In the morning, I regularly woke up with an ache in the upper left-hand gums which increased when I brushed my teeth. The gums in the upper left-hand jaw were also highly pressure-sensitive -- chewing was out of the question. As the day took its course, the pulsing ache in the other half of my face increased gradually. In the evening, the left-hand gums were almost fine, but the right-hand pain would keep me awake for hours.

Like it or not, I would have to return to the dental clinic, which I did on Monday, August 23, 1999 .

When I arrived there, my records could not be found -- for the fifth time. Apparently, my file was in the hands of either Prof. Tschernitschek or Mr. Kahlstorf, both of whom were on vacation. Dr. Sohrabi was on duty, though. He remembered me and when I told him that the change had not become significantly, he was none too happy. This time, he did give me an injection before digging into the pocket behind tooth 17. Once again, he cleaned the pocket out, washed it with pressurized water and injected the pocket with some more horribly-tasting ointment. For my next visit, Dr. Sohrabi announced that he would like to have an x-ray made.

That night, the pain resurfaced just as I was falling asleep.

Two days later, on Wednesday, August 25, 1999, Mr. Sohrabi took another look at the pocket and did a vitality test on tooth 17. From all appearances, it was still alive, albeit reluctantly. He theorized that the continuing pains were a result of my teeth gnashing and sent me over to the prosthetics department.

We discussed additional possible courses of action -- by this time, I was no longer going to take any doctor's first suggestion or diagnosis and run with it.

After my "crisis of faith" following Mrs. Seewald's botched treatment, I had decided to stop placing blind trust in doctors. Even if it meant becoming a nuisance to the doctors who wanted to treat me, I would have to ask them about what they planned to do, whether there were any alternatives and what possible risks they were taking. Neither Dr. Dietrich nor any of the other dentists had really left me with much choice about what they were going to do with me -- only lately did I come to realize that it wasn't the doctor who had to live with a poor decision, but the patient.

As I discussed possible treatments with Dr. Sohrabi, I mentioned a strange swelling in the lower jaw which I had noticed during the past weekend. He issued an additional transfer -- this one to the jaw surgery department.

The prosthetics doctor didn't really help much: He looked at the tooth, injected some more of the ointment with the disgusting taste into the pocket, filed off part of the filling and suggested I should return the following day if I didn't feel better. The next morning (Thursday, August 26, 1999), I went straight to the jaw surgeons. The pain was immense. Fortunately for me, I was treated by the head doctor of the department. He found the swelling to be normal (a slightly sensitive lymph node) and sent me to the prosthetics department.

There, a doctor issued me a new grind guard for my teeth -- the old one was looking rather worn out by now. A week afterwards, I picked it up and surprise -- for a couple of days, the pain lessened somewhat.

At this point, my detailed notes end. The following months were a blur of events, most of them unrelated to my teeth. Amongst other things, I got married.

"The further consequences of Mrs. Seewald's doings."

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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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