pain in the…face: part two

When the first tooth fell out, I contacted my dentist. By the time I saw him five or six teeth joined their little brother. I placed them in a Zip-Loc bag in case he needed them. I guess I thought he could use them in a prosthesis or something. Pain does odd things to how one thinks and reacts. He took the teeth. (He’s a nice guy, and probably didn’t want to tell me there was no point to this exchange.)

He contacted an orthodontist, who examined my mouth, which now lacked six of the 32 normal tooth count. He researched the odd condition, and noted I was only the 39th known person to experience this condition because of herpes zoster. The records went back to the 19th Century. Yes, once again, I was a case study for a specialist who called in all his interns for a chance to view this human oddity, this 39th human known to suffer a herpes zoster related necrotic mandible that lead to tooth loss!

He arranged for me to see an oral surgeon in Denver. The oral surgeon was not only delighted for a chance to examine me, since he headed the department at a teaching hospital, he arranged for free treatment. All my insurance had to cover was my hospital room and hospital-associated costs. The hospital room overlooked Cherry Creek and had a million dollar view of the Denver skyline and the Rocky Mountains. But enough of that. You want to read what happened that required hospitalization.

The oral surgeon and his interns clipped out the dead portions of my mandible till they reached healthy tissue. It was dead, right? I didn’t feel a thing, though I felt a jolt when the trimmers broke through the dead tissue. They did deaden the area, just in case they hit living tissue, but the process was uneventful except for the series of photos they took of the herpes zoster wounds healing on my face and the details of trimming back the necrotic bone. Ugh!

Once they trimmed back the bone to healthy tissue, the oral surgeon arranged for that hospital room with the million dollar view. The final stage, cleaning up what was left of the necrotic bone, had to be completed under anesthesia. In all, they removed roughly 50%, perhaps a bit more, of the top part of the right side of my mandible.

The facial pain continued. The oral surgeon had me come back once a month for several months to verify the remaining tissue re-established a vascular system, that there was no further necropsy. The healing went uneventfully, except for the pain attacks.

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