the great release
Several days ago, I found this strange lump on the roof of my mouth. Being the worrywart I am, I scheduled a dentist appointment with a new dentist to get it checked out. I was overdue for a cleaning, and had been meaning to go for a while, but got sidetracked by the insanity of moving my life to California. I wasn’t able to get in for several days, and during that time, the bump disappeared.
When I went to the dentist, they recommended I get a deep cleaning since periodontal disease runs in my family. So, we scheduled two back-to-back days of cleaning and then we did a mold for a night guard since I shared I’d been grinding my teeth like a crazy lady because of all the stress I’ve been under. I loved my new dentist.
When deep cleaning day came, they were all so impressed by my redheaded wonder pain tolerance for dealing with needles. I felt very little pain and was so happy I did it. But, on the second visit, after cleaning was done, my hygienist noticed a crack on the gumline of my upper left wisdom tooth. The dentist checked it out, and sure enough, there it was. He theorized all my grinding literally cracked my tooth. It wasn’t on the x-rays we took earlier, so we’re pretty sure it was from all the recent stress. He asked if I had ever thought about yanking all four of my wisdom teeth–mostly because it’s very difficult even for professionals to get back there–let alone me. I have a narrow, deep mouth–apparently! And I still have all my teeth. Imagine that!
Of course, I said, “No.” Because I am terrified of wisdom tooth extraction, and considering I’m taking my last non-holiday PTO day of the year to move most of our crap in September, I really can’t afford to take any time off. I could work and just not talk to people, but my job is to talk to people–so it would be a challenge. He said we could just do a crown and then deal with the tooth later–if it got worse. I agreed to that, got an estimate, and made the appointment.
But then I thought about it, and did more research, and decided that now wasn’t the time. I was not in any pain–so I felt I could wait until I got to San Jose. I would just make an appointment with a dentist out there now and be sure to do it quickly.
So, everything was great and then Sunday night happened. I started getting this vague aching pain in my jaw on both sides along with severe itching deep down in my ears on both sides. I went to bed, not feeling too bad–and woke up Monday with my entire face feeling awful, wanting to disown both my itchy ears.
I, of course, q-tipped (I know) to see if there was maybe wax or something. Nada. I took some ibuprofen and ordered some homeopathic drops online, hoping it would go away on its own. I also called and emailed my doctor’s office–not knowing she was on vacation along with her mother (the office manager). By Tuesday, the pain and itching in the left ear totally disappeared, but it got worse in the right ear. I was literally going out of my mind with the itching and eating was so difficult. While I could open my mouth fine, the movement was painful. If I ate on the other side, it actually felt worse. My teeth didn’t feel bad at all. It was my actual jaw. I did some research and decided it was either a bad ear infection, a sinus infection, or TMJ. Or maybe the wisdom tooth. But I was leaning against teeth-related because the teeth weren’t at all sensitive. It was deeper than that. I was leaning against TMJ because I had no clicking or pain near the TMJ joints. I also had no fever. And there was that damn itching. I didn’t feel like it was a sinus thing because I had zero headache and had been taking Mucinex and allergy meds regularly–actually feeling pretty good up until Sunday.
I finally used a teladoc service on Tuesday and spoke with a doctor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to diagnose formally because he couldn’t see inside my ears. He suspected a terrible ear infection, too, but there are a few kinds–each with different treatments. He advised I see my doctor or go to urgent care. I was actually not in too bad pain at that point. Ibuprofen was keeping it in check. My homeopathic drops showed up and handled the itching. I called my doctor’s office and scheduled an appointment with the NP there. But the earliest they could get me in was tomorrow morning. I figured I’d be fine.
Luckily, work has slowed down and my boss is amazing, so I felt like I’d be okay till then.
And then, today happened. My jaw and ear felt like it wanted to divorce my body–sending lightning bolts of pain every time I ate or drank anything. When that wasn’t happening, there was this dull thud happening in my jaw. Sitting up was so painful. And the itching was back–full on craze inducing. The ear drops weren’t working. Ibuprofen–at max dose–was not working. I took more Mucinex and allergy meds and started drinking a shit ton of rose tea. Why? Because after my gall bladder surgery and the sinus infection from hell stage of my existence, my naturopath had explained that rose tea clears out things you hold onto that you don’t need–both physically and emotionally. It’s also full of vitamin C and tastes/smells lovely. I added some raw honey into it and marveled at how soothing it felt. But nothing was doing much. I sat at work all day with a heating pad strapped to my ear–contemplating taking the leftover Vicodin from my weird hip injury earlier this year.
My boss basically ordered me to log off early after talking to me today. She could hear the pain in my voice. So, I did–opting to take a nap with Fogg and the heating pad strapped to my face again. It was literally the most pain I’d had, and I was near tears.
I had this strange fever dream about my parents. I’m used to my parent dreams being just my mother–never my father–and never in such a direct way. But there they were, on my couch, telling me to let it all go. That it would be okay. Comforting, but also very serious and urgent.
I woke up–to a dark outside–full of rain and clouds and my jaw finally calm and quiet. The pain was 80% gone. I could feel the places where it was before–but instead of stabbing–they were relaxed and sore. I also noticed things were moving–literally leaving my head. Not completely gone–but gone enough that I was majorly freaked out.
I’m still planning on going to the doctor tomorrow, but the whole thing makes me wonder. Was this my body’s last attempt to keep me here?
I’m a big believer in the power of the mind to cause illness and discomfort in the body. I’ve witnessed it myself a lot while in therapy. So often, my body seemed to just want to be acknowledged. Every pain was a physical representation of emotional pain–and as it was given a voice–it would disappear.
This week was not the week for me to feel like shit. I had way too much to do–the most I had to do until we go away. I was clenching my teeth and getting through it–much like the needle part of the deep cleaning. The pain was there; I just chose not to feel it. I am very good at this sort of thing–have done it for years. And some people respect me for it. I respect me for it.
I wonder, though, if this was my body trying to get me to acknowledge that leaving needed to be processed and honored–not just gotten through.
Which is odd because of how much emotion I’ve had bubbling up already. But maybe there’s more. Of course, there’s more.
My instinct now is to hold back my tears–the well of emotion that’s as deep as the itch in my ears this afternoon–and just resume. But stopping to let it go–it maybe needs to happen more often.
It’s interesting to me that my parents showed up and that suddenly I feel better. Of course, there are many non-spiritual explanations to explain why it suddenly got better. But I am reminded now of a time in my life, years ago, when I didn’t know how to receive love.
I was 23 or 24, and I had just met this amazing man who would become my fiance. It was something I was open to–but, being me–I sabotaged it at every turn and couldn’t take the next step of committing. He went on this road trip by himself to Arizona, and when he came back, he shared that–in the middle of the night–driving the desolate highway back to Colorado–he was visited by his late grandmother and my dead father. He thought I’d think he was crazy, but he was wrong. I’ve always felt my father near and regularly talk to him. In any case, at some point, my father reassured my ex-fiance that he would help me let it go. That he would make it okay. The odd thing was that, the same day that happened, I had a very rare Daddy dream and the theme was to take a leap of faith. But oddly, my father told me to trust in him–if I couldn’t trust myself or my ex. And oddly–with this man I had never trusted in life, I was able to trust in him. And all the barriers just fell away.
All of this may be a bit whoo whoo. But you know, I believe that our bodies and minds and spirits all talk to each other. That our lessons show up in ways that demand our attention. That those who love us continue doing so after they die. If we are open to hearing them.
In any case, I’m just really grateful my ears aren’t full-on attacking me anymore. And I’m excited for this new chapter in my life, and hope it brings more healing and peace.