Dental Surgery: I just popped a piece of gum in my mouth and weeks later, here I am.

Sorry for the absence, but I just popped a piece of gum in my mouth and weeks later, here I am.

Ten years ago I had a crown put on one of my molars. Three weeks ago, I decided to have a piece of gum rather than have a snack–one chew and out the came the crown. A trip to the dentist ended up in an appointment for surgery to have the tooth beneath the crown completely removed and a bone graft to eventually place an implant.

I should have known not to eat the gum. I am pretty sure it was my childhood love of grape Bubblicious that got me here in the first place.

So, surgery was no fun. In retrospect, there are some things I did well that made the situation better—and there are some things I could have done better. I am sharing them here in case they could help you too.

The Three Things that Made Things Better

I know there is no conclusive research on Lupus affecting dental health, but I suspect it does.

I know there is no conclusive research on Lupus affecting dental health, but I suspect it does 

3. Arnica gel and tablets. It is becoming something of an epidemic—Doctors and phlebotomists can’t find my veins to take blood or put in an IV. This was a particularly bad instance—five tries between both arms before they hit the kind of blood flow they wanted. I am thinking that people are a little too impatient—because a few hours later, I am a mess of redness, aching in pain and then for days after covered in bruises. Nothing makes me less indignant about the bruises or the pokes, but in the aftermath, applying Arnica gel (I get mine at Whole Foods) makes the bruises dissipate quickly—which is good because the more I look at them, the more upset I get about having them.

2. Speaking up. I am pretty proud of myself for this one, even though it had mixed results. I made sure everyone knew I had Lupus. I made sure to tell them that the tourniquet was too tight (that took a plea to two people to fix) and I did not sit in the chair until I had eye contact with the doctor while I explained my track record with amoxicillin. I was also pretty clear that the little disc they used to try to warm me up (so they could take blood) was way too hot. You win some, and you lose some.  However, if you are a medical professional and you find yourself saying, “Let me know if this is too hot. I have gloves on, so I have no idea.” Just know that it is in fact too hot. I had three burn marks—on top of having bruises.

1. My boyfriend. Seriously, I couldn’t have gotten home, let alone gotten through this without him. After surgery, I remember giving the receptionist my credit card (ouch). I remember the car pulling out into traffic, and then I remember waking up at home three hours later. I am really, really bad at asking for help, and he has admitted to not liking the responsibility of being the caretaker. But I asked and he answered. He made sure I drank water, took medicine, and when I finally woke up and rejoined society, had plenty of soup to eat. If you are reading this hun, high-five for us!

Three Things I Should Have Done Differently:

3. Told my doctor. Well, if I felt like I had a doctor. I am currently a woman without care—but more on that later. I am switching insurance—because the two Kaiser rheumatologists on staff in my area aren’t going to cut it. So I didn’t really have a rheumatologist to tell, but once I do, I am going to be better about this. I think it will save me lots of pain in the long run.

2. Planned more down time. I am not sure if I can completely blame this on Lupus, or if it is just getting older—but really, I thought I would have surgery on Friday and be well enough to go into the office on Monday. While I did actually go in to the office, I wasn’t really well enough to do it. In fact, it has been 9 days since surgery and I am still not 100%.

1. And the most important thing I could have done differently, was to have read this article from the Lupus Foundation about preparing for surgery. I didn’t think that this “surgery” was real surgery. Here is the link:


If you’re doing something that I could learn from, please post it. Until research catches up, sharing what we are feeling seems like the best way to suffer less at the hands of Lupus.