When I last left my dentist’s office, it was in a state of semi-hysteria over having just been informed that I needed a $2,000 bite splint that my insurance (you know, that thing you pay for the pleasure of being told everything is ineligible for coverage?) wouldn’t pay even a little bit towards. I came home and had a small tantrum and then vowed to cure myself of TMJ the old-fashioned way—I would simply will it to improve.
It actually worked, if by “it” you mean “that whole ‘willing’ thing, plus changing my diet some and doing nighttime relaxation exercises.” I went from being unable to chew on the affected side to where I am now, which is hardly any pain to speak of at all. I mean, TMJ is typically cyclical, but let’s just all agree that my giving up chewing gum and learning to practice deep breathing is the real reason I got better.
And because I was no longer in pain, I totally forgot about it. Until I got a phone call reminding me that I had my regularly-scheduled dental cleaning this week.
I don’t mind dental cleanings. Unlike Joshilyn, the dentist’s chair has never been a source of consternation for me. I mean, sure, I don’t particular LOVE having pointy things scraped all over my enamel, but the dentist always comments to the hygienist “She has such pretty teeth, doesn’t she?” Dentists love my teeth.
Plus, it’s pretty rare that I get a solid 45 minutes during the day when I’m not obligated to be DOING SOMETHING. Lying there in the dentist chair is perversely relaxing, for me. (Joshilyn just read that statement and passed out, y’all.) So it’s usually all good.
I forgot in the excitement of the whole bite splint drama that at my last cleaning, the dentist noted a little spot on my tongue. Sort of… on the underside of one side of it. Just a little white circle, that he said could’ve been caused by abrasion. At the time I’d laughed and noted that we’d had Mexican the night before (naaaaaaaaaachos!) and that was probably it.
I remembered it this week when the hygienist said, “Huh, there’s something on the side of your tongue, here.”
But hey, GOOD NEWS! I am nothing if not productive. Now instead of a tiny white circle, I have TWO smallish white circles! There was no blaming it on tortilla chips, this time.
So the dentist checked me over and commented on my pretty teeth (*preen*) and then clucked over the White Circle Mystery and said that it was “probably nothing” but he wanted to refer me to an oral surgeon for possible biopsy, just to be safe.
Clearly he was annoyed that I hadn’t purchased the bite splint, am I right? Hmph.
Pro tip: Do NOT leave the dentist’s office and go home and Google “white spot on side of tongue.” You’re welcome.
So I finished writing my will (I hear oral cancers are a VERY bad way to go) and then I called the oral surgeon’s office for an appointment, mentioning that the dentist had referred me over and should’ve called, already. The good news was that they had indeed called. The bad news is that our dental insurance doesn’t cover the oral surgeon, but our regular health insurance might. HAHAHA. And if I wanted insurance to cover it, I needed a referral from my regular primary care doctor.
[Just for the record, the last time I called my primary care doctor’s office was in March, when I was In A Very Bad Way Indeed what with the being in a deep pit and perhaps needing of a bit of pharmaceutical intervention. I love my doctor very much, but her office is like everyone else’s office. Which is to say that when I called mid-March to say I needed an appointment because I was struggling with depression, they offered me the first available appointment. IN MAY. Just kind of not feeling the doctor love, at the moment, is all.]
Nevertheless, I needed a referral, so I called my doctor’s office and explained what I needed and they said they’d take care of it. Which I figured meant they’d forget about it entirely.
I was wrong, though; the oral surgeon’s office called me this morning to schedule my appointment. Of course, our entire county is under a tornado watch today, so it’s still possible I could die in a freak weather-related accident before I have to go find out that as a rabid anti-smoker, I have somehow gone and gotten myself some tongue cancer.
Needless to say, Otto is relieved I’m not overreacting or anything.