Narrative Nonfiction: My Dental Distress

Have you ever heard of something called “Ludwig’s Angina”? No, No…ANGINA dear, mind out of the gutter please. So have you? No? Neither had I until a few days ago. It can be pretty scary stuff, involving medically cut throats, infections, possibly suffocation…Oh my, you are looking a little pale there. Are you feeling ok hun? Maybe we should try this a little differently: Ok then, what is it that the children say? Oh yes, STORY TIME!

It all started late on Thursday afternoon. As the work day wound down, my mouth randomly started to twinge. I took some ibuprofen and thought no more about it until the following day. Unfortunately, by the end of school on Friday I was drowning in pain killers. At supper I was unable to eat my French fries and I knew that something had to be done…so I got some tooth numbing gel and went to bed.

Saturday morning found me in pain, exhausted, and driving the two hours to my parent’s place so my kid could hang out with them. Though I had just woken up before making the trek, by the time lunch was finished I could barely stay awake.  I passed out immediately upon laying down for nap time, my daughter sneaking out to watch television with her Gaga.  3 hours later I woke up, still exhausted, still in pain, and with a new bout of swelling along my jaw and under my chin. Yes, under my chin. I looked a bit like a bullfrog. Mom immediately kicked me out and sent me to Urgent Care, where I was diagnosed with an abscess and given pain pills and penicillin. A few days later my dentist drilled a hole in the canine causing the problems, tsked at the amazing amount of infection and swelling (SO FAST! I’ve never seen something like this before!) and scheduled a root canal for the following week. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t make it that long.

Not only did the pain and swelling refuse to dissipate, it worsened. My dentist appointment had been on Tuesday; Thursday morning I awoke groggy, running a 100.4 temperature, and with even worse swelling under my chin…which was pressing on my throat and causing difficulty in breathing.

I called the dentist, I called my mother, and I took the kid to school and had them call a sub.  Two hours later, my mother checked the kid out of school, picked me up, and headed us toward a specialist.

With a brief stop to drop them off and swap to my dad driving, I made a 5 hour drive to the specialist. Who, after a cursory inspection, (I’ve NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE!) called an oral surgeon and had us rush across town to the next office.

The oral surgeon (young, adorable…regretfully seeing me at my worst) comes back after his work hours and, when he could not convince me to go to the hospital overnight for antibiotic drip, finally removed the offending tooth. (SIDE NOTE: As he was numbing my mouth, the song “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you” came on. We shared a healthy giggle as the nurse’s looked on with confused worry).

Even after the removal, Dr. Cutie tried to send my to the hospital and it’s IV drips, but I out stubborned him and Dad and I set our wheels toward home. Per orders, and on threat on being taken back in for a tracheostomy if I provoked the swelling any more, I spent Thurs evening thru Sunday afternoon doing little more than sleeping and whining.

Though I probably should have taken more time off, I went on to school on Monday. Those first couple of days we hellacious. My mouth continued to pain me, the extra cuts left open to drain the infection making even the act of licking my lips excruciating. I had to sleep sitting up for a week, and wear a face mask in the classroom for two.

the swelling started to go down about a week after that first trip to the doctor, but even now (almost 3 weeks since it all began) the discomfort lasts.

According to all three dentists and one doctor (All who had “never seen this before”) I probably shouldn’t have been able to wake up that Thursday morning to get into surgery. Ludwig’s Angina  is reasonably rare and can lead to suffocation…if I had arrived to surgery as swollen as I’d been upon waking, a tracheostomy would have been the immediate next step.

I’m just happy to be able to hear a voice near me without the need to cry at the pressure of the vibrations hitting my jaw now.

 

*this has been a true recounting of the insanity that hit my mouth over the past few weeks.*

Wired for Story Chat | Intro and Ch. 1

I have decided to do a series of videos dicussing each chapter in this book and how it affects what I, as an author, am writing. This is a nonfiction that connects Neurology with Writing and is not only important, but interesting and well written as well. I hope you enjoy this (long) video. I promise the rest will be shorter!

Please comment with any suggestions, ideas, constructive criticisms, etc.

Review – Be Different

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Written by John Elder Robison as a series of short stories from his childhood and meant to give the reader a peek into the Aspergian mind, this book is a mix of memoir, education, mental health, and even self help.

Originally published: U.S. March 22, 2011

Blurbed by Temple Grandin and Mark Roithmayr (president of Autism Speaks) and sporting a beautiful cover, be different draws the audience in and prepares them for some quirky fun as they learn more about Aspergers, a form of autism.

When I requested, and was subsequently sent, this book for review from Blogging for Books, i was expecting something that looked more into the technical bits of Aspergian life. I saw that it was a series of advice/short stories and was honestly expecting to see articles, anecdotes from other Aspies (Robison’s word for those diagnosed with Aspergers), and maybe even some notes from a teacher or two. However, this book was not at all what I expected. While I was looking for the ‘advice’ part promised to me in the title, what most of the book entails is actually the other part, the part where he details his own adventures with Asperger’s. Except Mr. Robison was not diagnosed until his 40s. Which means that the stories we get in this book are actually told to us as an acknowledged Aspergian looks back at his childhood and discusses what happened in the light of having NOT KNOWN he was Aspergian. Sound confusing? It isn’t really.

What Mr. Robison does well in this book is, among other things, detailing what he did and what happened to him and then spending a sentence or two describing whether that was or was not a good way to handle it in the light of Aspergers.

The writing style is fairly clear and well done. The stories are mostly memoir with very little advice thrown in until the final chapter, but the advice seems like something most people can easily discern without explicit directions. (Unless you’re one of those Aspergians who NEEDS explicit directions. Hmm…)

However, Mr. Robison only mentions females as ‘girls’ to be learned about, feared, and, hopefully, dated. The only instance of women otherwise mentioned (besides offhand mentions of his mother) were of Little Bear, his son Cubby’s mother. She also has Aspergers…but he offers no advice or comments TO females. In fact, all of his stories and advice is written with an obvious slant to males. While this is understandable since he is, in fact, a male, AND the advice is applicable to both genders, someone with autism might not feel they ‘belong in/reading’ a book that doesn’t mention their gender. As someone dealing with a form of autism, I felt that he should have known and dealt with that at some point. He is also very self involved, which is typical for Aspergians and comes across well. I haven’t decided, and likely never will agree with myself, on whether this is frustrating, annoying, and a poor writing choice (especially in the times when he completely condones physical violence and leaving schools) or if it is necessary.

On the whole, I found this book to be well written and interesting. Though I would have liked more advice and possibly less repetition on the themes, I feel like this is a solid book for helping teen Aspies, Prot-Aspies (people with traits but not full on Aspergers) and Nypicals (neuro-typical or non-autistic people) understand how to handle their side of the spectrum and possibly how to help others.

I am rating this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.