Thursday, March 13, 2008

plaque and car accidents

i went to the dentist yesterday. i hadn’t been in about 4 years, because it’s been about that long since i’ve had dental insurance.

i came away with two barely visible cavities and a few upcoming solutions for a few of my dental gripes. all in all, painless.

the last time i visited the dentist, however, was very much the same as all previous dental visits - the scraping of the teefs with a sharp metal hook. and this time, there was none of that.

technology has breached the dental field in my absence it seems, and they now use ultrasonic vibrations to vibrate off the plaque that they would normally spend 15 minutes scraping. i had my doubts, but it worked. i felt like i was away in the peace corps for a decade.

on a lesserly happy note, i have spend the last week admitting to myself what i really am (and more accurately, what i am not.) i’ve read lots of medical material in the last few months that has taught me a lot and in ways taken away hope of things, but given me support in others. saying it aloud to amanda solidified it for me. the years of doctor visits and medication changes, the candy coated explanations about my medical status, the waiting to recover the "me" i once was - all of that put into focus by one simple statement which i was reluctant to admit for years. i feared skepticism, alienation, pity, judgement. i worried that admitting something was wrong with my brain would make me defective, damaged, less of a person, that i would appear less attractive, less sane, more the person to be avoided and not to be trusted.

i hoped it would get better - the sadness, the guilt, the worry, the physical side effects. and now, a decade later, they are all still there most of the time - now coupled with isolation, indifference, and cognitive problems. and far from better, i feel like i’m worse off than i was. but i know that a few parts of me are healed, and more parts of me are healing. and my doctor promises she won’t give up and there are lots of options left.

still, i spend much of my time in solitude, interacting only with my housemembers and calls to my mom, but shutting out all other contact. i can’t think clearly, i can’t spell some of the time (or type), i can’t remember things, i can’t think in the correct sequences, and i have trouble remembering basic words. and all that has created this cavity in my self confidence that has further pushed me away from feeling comfortable with other people regardless of who they are.

as amanda, the brilliant, pointed out, just because the old me isn’t coming back like i thought it should, that doesn’t mean the new me will be bad. that it’s okay to let the old sharon die and invite the new one in and see what she’s all about. and in many ways, she’ll be the same, but in others she won’t. and that’s okay.

and that’s what i have to learn.

i could blame heredity, i could blame a car full of drunk teenagers who made a lousy traffic decision and changed strangers lives, i could blame doctors for discounting my symptoms as laziness because they were too busy to consider anything else, i could blame friends or family for not understanding, not believing, and not having any compassion, i could blame a medical friend who preached to my family at a holiday meal about how he was convinced that it was all in my head and there was nothing wrong with me - but blame is pointless.

i have my sight, my hearing, my heart, my limbs, my brain (though part of it doesn’t function the same) - and i have a loving family, a small circle of people who love me and a mom that understands on a different level than anyone else i know. i have a lot. and i forget to focus on what i have instead of what i don’t have.

and like the cathartic emptying of the house and subsequent garage sale, i have to find a way to drag out the guilt, the pointless worry, the bad memories, the items in my life, my room that remind me of bad events, all the negativity in my body and the mold i made of who i think i should be and put it by the curb with a "free" sign. and it should leave me plenty of room to rebuild the me that has a vague blueprint and a lot of potential.

just because things don’t always go your way, doesn’t mean they will go badly. maybe the unknown has more potential than our imaginations?

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