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Training, terrible teeth and, er, troubled toes!

Training, terrible teeth and, er, troubled toes!

Training, teeth, injuries…wow, it’s all happening – oh, and the end of my year of therapy…

I’m writing this during an enforced rest following a tooth extraction yesterday. After my treatment for the abscess a while ago, the dentist said they’d bring forward my extraction date. Well, after 15 days of hearing nowt, I felt that they were maybe extracting something else from me (sorry!) and rang up. I know! I actually made a phone call – and with success!

I was given an appointment for that day, which was perfect as it meant I could fit a swim in beforehand. Despite not having swum for about three weeks, I felt all right and my speed wasn’t that much slower than usual. Actually, it felt really good to be back in the water again, even though the pool was packed for much of the session, meaning that it was difficult to find any rhythm for quite a while.

The tooth extraction went well, touch wood (oh my, now I have images of wooden teeth – why did I choose that phrase?!), although I had expected the dentist to clean out the area as I still had an infection in the gum. I had the injections and then the tooth was pulled, after much wrangling and pressure. And that’s it! I’m hoping that it’s a simple recovery…I’d intended to run this morning, but I’ve read many warnings of blood clots being dislodged because of the increase in blood pressure. I’ll attempt a short bike ride tomorrow morning, I think.

I now have a huge gap in my mouth and only one half-tooth on that bottom side. I daren’t feel it, or even look at it. As soon as I’d left the surgery I (rather feebly) burst into tears – I’ve been in pain for such a long time, and have had so many abscesses in that area, that I think I was relieved that it was all over (I hope). But it also hurts to know that I’ve brought this upon myself. All the guilt and sadness flood back, and I feel shame and embarrassment too about it all. I can’t just hide it away in my mind as I have the tangible reminder of my past behaviours and their causes… Stupidly, and perhaps unhelpfully, I’ve also read about how tooth loss affects both functionality and facial bone structure. I have a huge dread that I’m turning into this old hag, with sunken cheeks and a slowly caving-in lower face. I’ve read about ‘bite collapse’, which can happen some of the rear teeth are missing (yep, tick that box) – this may result in the teeth at the front being squished forward. I don’t think those certain people in my life (who scoff at my distress about my teeth) really appreciate the consequences of having horrid, bad, post-bulimic teeth. It’s far, far more than mere vanity – it’s psychologically extremely distressing, and the functional damage has a deeply negative impact too.

Training-wise, I’m not entirely where I want to be, but then again it could be far worse. I’ve actually left the house! I’ve managed a few 80mile cycles, and the running (despite ever-present pain and injury) is slow but at about 15miles. I’m not concerned about the swimming really, that should be fine (famous last words eh…). When I did the half-ironman, I was diligent in doing brick sessions, usually sessions such as twenty minute runs straight after 50mile bike rides. I was fortunate then because I could do this in rural areas, which meant that there was little likelihood of people seeing me. I have great difficulty now in arriving back home and then going out for a run, because of the sheer amount of people who are around when I return chez moi. Even if I leave home at 5am, by the time I’m in my last (wheezy, painful, slow) stages of the bike ride there are – of course – more people around. I’ve also found that I’m increasingly anxious about seeing cycle groups when I’m out – I worry that they’re laughing at me, or cursing me because I’m so slow (my cycle average is about 17mph). I wave and say hi etc, as they whizz past, and tell myself that I’m only so slow because I need to maintain a zone 2 heart-rate (ahem…yeah, right!). I also tell myself that surely they’ve only just started their bike ride (PLEASE don’t tell me I’m wrong!!).

My time in therapy is now also at an end. And that important process deserves its very own post, I reckon…

Injuries, poorly footsies, and hamster-cheeks

Injuries, poorly footsies, and hamster-cheeks

Oh my! FAR too much to do – and worry about! And lots to catch up on…including one success amongst a pretty dire backdrop of illness and injury, and bleak moods and hopelessness.

It’s seems like a long time ago now, that little chirpy success in my training a few weeks ago.

Back at the start of the year, I decided to enter a half-marathon. It wasn’t intended to be integral to my training, I just signed up because I’d done it before and I thought it’d be good to have something to work towards…and yes, I signed up because at that time I was very low and I did my usual desperate “Let’s hope this serves as a graded intervention for m’self…”!

I’d had a few good sessions of running leading up to the half-marathon: nothing amazing, but I was managing to increase my distance (if not my speed). I felt reasonably ok about the event and almost looked forward to it…and then my ankle and little toe plotted revenge and decided to have a meltdown. Bizarre – no tumble, or trip, or stubbedness, no bruising, even…just a painful sensation that was similar to a sprain, and a throbbing li’l pinkie that ballooned in size. Six days before a half-marathon! Aaaargh!

After lots of ice, compression and elevation (of foot, sadly, not my mood), nothing had improved. My inner stubborn donkeyness kicked in and I refused to withdraw from the event.

Ended up running a PB in hefty sunshine, knocking 17 minutes off my previous best. I’d had a sense that I was running well, then I noticed the 5mile sign. I wasn’t checking my watch, and thought that I was up to only around 3 miles. Definitely a psychological boost! I was enjoying the wonderful crowds who’d turned up to support us all, and grinned as various superheroes whizzed past me (how on earth they manage to run at speed, especially in such heat, is beyond me. They have my utmost respect and admiration).

Oh yep, forgot to mention that my grotty tooth had developed into an abscess, and that I’d decided to run partly because I thought the pain of my tooth would cancel out the foot pain. It almost worked..!

At about 7-8 miles, I really started to hurt.

I think I managed such a good time (for me) because I just wanted it all over and done with. I was experiencing a combination of enjoying being able to run and be outside, and panicking inwardly because of all the crowds around me. I really wanted to get away from everyone, even though it was such a great, friendly atmosphere. And the pain from both the upper and lower ends of my bod were beginning to grate and hurt.

By the time I’d crossed the finish line, I was limping quite badly, the abscess had swollen massively, and I looked like a demented hamster with a wonky leg. But I was so chuffed about my time that I really didn’t care about what I looked like!

I saw the dentist the following day, was finally seen and sent away swiftly with antibiotics (Metronidazole) and a promise that the tooth extraction would be rescheduled for an earlier date (er, this hasn’t happened yet…). By now my tooth was black and I was also having problems with swallowing because my mouth was so swollen. But that’s all for another post, as I am definitely not happy with the treatment I’ve received from this dentist.

I then experienced massively horrid side-effects from the antibiotics. I’ve never had problems with other ABs, but these wrecked me: headaches, dry metallic mouth, nausea and sickness, cramps…nothing was staying in my digestive system. I felt as if I’d been in a fight, and ended up being out of action for 14 days. NOT what I wanted with the heavy phase of training looming…I’d been doing so well, and now this.

My mood plummeted too. The combination of foot and ankle agony, tooth pain, daft amounts of painkillers and revolting antibiotics really hit me – along with the panic of having so many days out of training. Depression really settled itself in…



Fangs for the memories… oh yeah, right…

Fangs for the memories… oh yeah, right…

Righteo, here goes: teeth. Specifically, my teeth. My horrid, ugly, unattractive, rotten, poor teeth.

I’m not having a great day today, so I apologise if all this is rather morose and zzz-worthy. I woke up feeling dreadful, having had a restless night, where the little sleep I did have consisted of yucky, violent dreams about the sexual assaults I experienced as a child. I woke feeling emotionally and physically odd, shattered and low. I’d planned to go for an early morning long cycle, but felt so exhausted and weird – and unsafe – that I didn’t go at all. And I feel so guilty for not doing this session. Or, rather, I feel so flippin’ angry at myself for being so damned useless and pathetic.

And I have toothache. Toothache that’s been raging and worsening for the last month…I had an abscess last October and it’s never really improved since then. I saw the dentist last week for a routine check-up (and to receive a humiliating dressing-down for daring to ask about restorative treatment). She confirmed that I needed the tooth extracted…and that the soonest that it could happen would be in eight weeks’ time. Eight weeks! This dentist is apparently happy to let her client leave her practice in pain, and continue to be in agonising pain for another eight weeks. Is my dentist fulfilling her duty of care, I wonder?

The state of my teeth is a highly distressing, emotional matter for me. It affects every interaction I have, as I cover my mouth to hide the foulness of my teeth. I never smile properly in photos – or smile properly anywhere, to be honest – and the loss of the teeth has altered my facial bone structure too. I’m aware of my teeth’s awfulness, and it pains me greatly that I have caused all of this. I grew up with a wonderful set of gnashers, and took them rather for granted. Until I became bulimic, I required little dental treatment and was proud of having such a heathy mouth. Of course, when I embarked on the Journey of Eating-Disorderness, little advice was around at that time on managing and limiting damage to your teeth whilst being bulimic, and after purging sessions I would brush my teeth immediately. WRONG!! That is so bad for your teeth – and I’d (this is unpleasant, sorry) still have food coming up when I wasn’t making myself sick, so acid would be floating around in my mouth anyway. I’m lucky that I have any teeth left, really. When I was wholly immersed in the bulimic way of life, I knew that I’d be damaging my teeth, but it happened so gradually that I didn’t notice it much, nor think anything of it – and, anyway, you don’t care about those aspects at the time. You’re so desperate to rid yourself of the pain inside that dental matters just don’t occur to you (or if they do, it’s a case of, “So what?” or, more likely, “I deserve to be in pain and have crap teeth anyway”).

I’ve already lost several teeth, and the jagged, eroded teeth that remain easily split and flake, or break. When a piece of tooth falls off, it’s heartbreaking and incredibly distressing for many reasons – I may well be (thankfully) moving away from having an eating disorder, but my teeth continually remind me of my history and the trauma that contributed to me having anorexia and bulimia in the first place.

I cannot seem to escape my past.

I’ve been very honest with my current and recent dentists about my history of bulimia (I don’t see any point of being anything otherwise, they can spot the signs and effects immediately). My current dentist is quite brisk and brusque in her manner, and that never bothered me until recently, when I initially enquired last year about having restorative dental treatment:

“Well yes, your teeth are admittedly very unattractive…but you can’t afford to pay for such treatment. It’s expensive, you know!”

“Your teeth are admittedly very unattractive…”. Nice. Really tactful and client-centred. As well as making the incorrect assumption that I’m too poor to afford such treatment.

I left the dental surgery feeling a fool and was stupidly on the verge of tears. So, when I realised that I had last week’s routine appointment coming up, I resolved to make enquiries again. I’ve researched this subject widely now, and have read several case studies (although there is sparse information in the UK for what treatments are available, and how you go about having such treatment), so I planned and rehearsed what to say regarding the possibility of having, or being referred for restorative treatment.

My dentist’s reaction was unreal – her attitude was that I didn’t deserve treatment, and she kept bullying me, sorry, quizzing me on what it was exactly that I wanted. I explained that, having not had any dental training and having been able only to find American articles and papers on the subject, I didn’t really know what treatment would be best to meet my needs. I said that I wanted teeth that were cosmetically and structurally sound, and explained that I’d contacted the local regional dental training college, and that the clinical lead had kindly recommended a few dental surgeons within the region.

My dentist seemed to be playing cat-and-mouse with me, repeatedly – and harshly – quizzing me on which treatments I wanted, and why I had contacted the dental training school. In the meantime, I was by now having a panic attack, and the friend who had come along to support me did nothing (she told me off afterwards for what I said, and for how I’d handled things. Hmm). I was blushing madly, my brain was buzzy and I couldn’t think straight, and I just wanted to run out; it felt as if I had spotlights shining in my face, with the dentist and the dental assistant both staring heartlessly at me, and I had a weird moment where I carefully reached round to my back, only to realise that sweat was dripping off. Mmm…

Now, as a registered allied health professional myself, I realised afterwards that her manner was wholly out of order. If I am seeing a service user, I’ll explain the range of treatments that I can offer, or ones that are available from other health professionals, and I’ll work together with the service user to try to arrive at the best option for them, or I’ll equip them with that information so that they can go away and take time to think about it all and make a considered decision. I certainly wouldn’t expect that person to know inherently what was available and what each treatment or service involved!!

So, I’m in a difficult place. I want to leave that practice, but my pain is worsening and I must accept that I will lose yet another tooth. I still have eight weeks until the planned extraction, but I really can’t put up with this constant pain that won’t even go with painkillers etc. There are no other NHS dentists within a 40mile radius who are taking new referrals. And it’s really difficult to determine who the better private dentists are – in any case, the ones that I’ve contacted locally aren’t taking on new patients. I don’t know what to do.

And this doesn’t even go anywhere near the issue of where I can have restorative treatment, or what to ask for. My friend says blithely, “Oh, you can just have implants…” – but these are so expensive. I now accept that they are a great long-term solution, and that they’ll probably pay for themselves in the end, and there’s the positive impact they’ll have on my self-confidence and ability to smile…

…but I don’t even know if my jawbone is healthy enough to accept implants.

There’s seemingly no one who can help, and I just don’t know where to turn for advice. The entire matter is really upsetting me, and the lack of support and information is sending my mind into a meltdown. I so want to sort out my teeth, and turn my back on my past…but it feels like I’m being stymied at every turn.

I do NOT know what to do.