I have yet to meet one person who loves going to the dentist. I certainly am not one of them. Perhaps that is why I had not gone in ten years. Literally… the last time I crossed the path of a dentist was in 2009 as I was out-processing for retirement from the Air Force.
The Air Force was good about scheduling my annual doctor and dentist appointments. I could’ve been jacked up for missing an appointment, right? I finished the final Air Force ordered appointment, got pointed towards the door, patted on the ass, and told, “Have a nice life in retirement!”
It is now ten years later and I have some rogue cancer element running about in neck. This forces me to go to a place I do not love to frequent... the dentist office!
My oncologist instructed me to undergo a dental examination, thorough teeth cleaning, and to fix any issues prior to the beginning of cancer treatment. My Wendy and I set up the appointment at her dentist. It was pretty straightforward: X-rays were taken, the dentist examined my teeth and found nothing to correct or fix, and the dental hygienist set up a cleaning appointment for the following day.
I'm back in the chair as scheduled the following day. The dental hygienist seemed to have waaaaay too much fun strip mining, fracking, and setting off seismic charges along the fault line that is cleverly disguised as my gums. Things really were not that baaaad, considering it has been 10 years since the last dental exam and teeth cleaning and flouride treatment. I'm now set up for another teeth cleaning in 6 months.
Why was all the dental activity necessary?
The oncologist will be treating my neck for cancer. The area will extend from the bottom part of my jaw to the collarbone area… the full length of my neck. My jaw is not a targeted area as far as I know right now. But will most likely suffer some collateral splatter from the radiation treatment. Because of that possibility, the oncologist wants my teeth to be as strong and healthy as possible.
Her big issue was to ensure I had a fluoride treatment prior to the beginning of the cancer treatment. The dental hygienist also suggested I use a fluoride rinse while the cancer treatment is in progress. She, along with other doctors, said cancer treatment of the neck will cause some of the saliva glands to stop working, which will lead to dry mouth. Lack of saliva production is a legit precursor to getting cavities because the teeth are not being rinsed off naturally. So that is where things are at today. Hopefully the next month will move along as follows...
Next on the list is to visit the oncologist on July 1st. I will share the results of the dental exam with her, and we will discuss what her plans are between now and the time my neck heals up.
I will see Dr. Evans (the ear, nose, and throat doctor) on July 25th to verify the healing process is far enough along to begin cancer treatment. I’d like the oncologist and I to begin the planning stage of the cancer treatment on or around July 15th. I understand the planning alone will take approximately 10 days. It would be nice to get a green light from Dr. Evans on July 25th, and start the cancer treatment on July 28th.
I just got to be the patient patient for now!
I worked in the backyard for a bit yesterday, perhaps 90 - 120 minutes. It felt good to do physical stuff. I will be back at it today too. I think it is time to get a PT program going during this waiting period.
I am excited to go out and play some drums tomorrow night up in Three Rivers. My Wendy and I are going up early to get a bite to eat before I start dragging gear in. I do not intend to put a lot of gigs on the calendar cuz I know my reliability can become a real liability to bands at any time.
Thank you much for staying tuned and reading.
Share your thoughts, questions, and curiosities along the way.