Sunday, October 24, 2010

Experiencing the Crone

Do you ever have an event happen in your life that is so bad - so mortifying - that you contemplate just hiding under your bed forever rather than have to explain it to anyone?  I've had a few - the latest happened on Friday night, and it was bad enough that I've spent a good part of the last couple days crying great big helpless sobs of loss and humiliation.

And the worst part is that I absolutely know the story is going to seem funny in that horrible "I know I shouldn't laugh but..." way, and I am no where near at the stage where I can laugh along and don't want to be that person sobbing, "It's not funny!!!" either.

So.  Backstory - a few years ago, I shattered my hip.  Bone deterioration from the medications used to treat life long rheumatoid arthritis was the likely reason why it shattered and certainly the reason why it failed to heal over the next couple years.  For a long time, I was basically being held up by pins, while the  surrounding bone had the consistency of cold oatmeal.  Sitting down, standing up, walking, laying down... it was pretty much nonstop torture, so onto the waiting list for a hip replacement I went.

None of which has anything to do with what I'm about to say, other than to lead up to this: To have replacement surgery, you have to be entirely free of any and all infection or the implant will be rejected.  And another wonderful side effect of RA is a constant and mostly losing battle with infections of all sorts - to include gum disease.   When my time came up to have the surgery, I was presented with two choices:  I could either go back to the bottom of the list, extending out the pain I was in for another year or more while we focused the battle on getting my mouth healthier, or.. we could lose the teeth, which would immediately get rid of the gum disease too.

I was in my early 40s, and it felt like the last shreds of my dignity were being stripped, but here's the thing - I was at the point of having to scream a little everytime I stood up, just to work up the guts to do it.  Dignity was already pretty much out the window.  So I had my teeth pulled, mourned my ego dying a thousand humiliating deaths, and got on with things.

Today I walk with a cane and I have to be mindful about how I walk to avoid falling over and dislocating the hip - but that pain is a thing of my past.   My full dentures are managable, although I still carry some embarrassment that I have to have them so early in life.

And yea... they're funny.  Face clattering teeth in gag shops, videos of sky diving grannies losing their teeth, joke after joke after joke about unappealing old women with their teeth in a jar.  I know the humor is there - and I'm even a little embarrassed that I don't find them so funny, like I shouldn't be sensitive about this.  It's just a piece of who I am.

One of the downsides of dentures (and there are so many) is that the upper plate covers your palate which can sometimes lead to choking when you eat - and that's what happened Friday.  Michael and I were out for dinner, and talking while we ate, and a bit of food hit the back of my mouth wrong, and I choked, and wound up losing a bit of my dinner into my napkin. VERY embarrassing - so I was already in total shame mode when I took the napkin to the bathroom to empty it out... dumped the contents into the toilet and flushed...

.. and realized my lower plate was no longer in my mouth.

Pausing for laughter and its ok - it's a horrible funny thing.

There was then the awfulness of talking to the manager and asking if they might call a plumber to snake for it, and being told yes, but then having to ask her a couple times if she wanted my info before it occurred to her to pretend they were going to really do anything.

Nope... they are gone.  They are enormously more expensive than I can afford and they're gone.  I am now on a liquid/soft food diet (and just for fun, this all happened just after I'd stocked up groceries with nice, chewy things I can't eat) until I can get a replacement - and I can't even call a dentist until Monday.  Michael has offered to pay what they cost - which means we're going to need to rethink some of the near future plans we'd happily been discussing when all this happened.  I have no idea how long after I see a dentist it will be before I have the replacement.

And I feel so stoooopid about this.  And ugly and worn out and old and there is a little girl inside me stomping her feet and yelling that I'm not OLD enough to be this old.

I was first diagnosed with RA when i was 19, before my first child was born, so for me, the Crone has been present within me since before the Mother made her appearance.  There never has been that mythical logical progression from Maiden to Mother to Crone.  And you'd think by now I'd stop being embarrassed by her - to rise up in power and grin my toothless grin and feel strong.  Sometimes I do.  And then sometimes, I do something dumb and get to live with the result, and just feel old and tired.

Crone moon, indeed.  She's got a wicked sense of humor, that one.

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