I had a metal implant base screwed into my jawbone yesterday.
A minor incursion into my physical domain, yet the invasion was important. My physical body is my own miraculous corner of “nature incarnate.” Within all her intricate interactions I like to think that I drive the evolution of this vehicle, but it is more likely my conscious self is a passenger in my physical and psychic interactions. I believe the processes we call life are not meant to be smooth sailing, they are meant to teach and reveal. Within these events, we remember ourselves in all our fragile glory. On this day, I was impressed by our ability to grow endlessly, and the storage capacity of a single tooth.
The left side of my face, specifically the bone of my lower jaw, has announced itself regularly across my adult life. Aware of the constant threat of deep decay inside my jaw bone, my body had countless times enacted my defenses. This time, in July it used a healthy neighbor tooth as a painful alarm bell. This time, the need for action made it all the way upstairs. I was contacted for some definitive action. So of course, I did my best to shut it down quickly.
“Get this thing out of here!”, the bone complained.
“Not so fast!” I said. “This is complicated! Some antibiotics and oil of oregano, it will fade away as it always has…”,
“Not this time,” The tooth replied.
It didn’t fade away. It had my attention. Attention begat movement, emotions showed themselves and I began to feel “sick” all over. I imagined the bacteria reaching my brain, my heart. The stashed material smelled like the mysterious thing at the back of the refrigerator. I began to remember the where, and when, it had begun to live with me.
The last intruder that had rummaged around in my #20 lower jaw tooth had cut the lines of communication. I felt no pain here, I felt very little at all. And pain is important. Pain is communication at the body level. It is the text in all CAPS that reminds us that we are living this life IN a body, and the body requires some attention.
Twenty-five years or so ago, I received an urgent message from the bones in my jaw via the sudden onset of excruciating pain radiating outward from a failed root canal. My trusted dentist, the creator of the Root Canal, referred me to an Oral Surgeon. After a full day of agony waiting for a callback, I was fit into a busy schedule, treated with general anesthesia and an apicoectomy, and sent on my way. The treatment was brusque, but the pain had been great. I was grateful for the relief. Grand sums of money were paid for the privilege of receiving emergency treatment. I went home with a swollen face and ice pack with the expectation of healing after some rough treatment.
It wasn’t until the next day that I realized that the left side of my face, lip, chin had no feeling of any kind, it was like touching a rubber mask. The soup was dripping out of my lip, running down my chin, unbeknownst to me. I returned to the office where I was reminded curtly and in angry tones that I had agreed to those risks before the surgery. Apparently, on the way out of my mouth, he un-willfully damaged the nerve which connected the left side of my face with the rest of my countenance. Who knew that we are precisely divided into quadrants by our nerves?
Yes, it was an embarrassment for a year, or two, or three. My family was instructed to always make me aware of the food on my face and thin liquids without straws were ruled out when eating with non-family members. I had an uneven half-smile at best. There was nothing life-threatening here, compared to what others endure, they were small challenges. Losing your smile and the ability to eat neatly is definitely “life shrinking.” A firm kick into the zone of self-consciousness.
In order to not be reminded of these uncomfortable feelings, and my lack of action in response to my bad treatment, all manner of words, feelings, and experiences from this escapade were packed up and put away promptly. I returned all unexpressed emotions from which they came, firmly stuffing them back into tooth #20.
This summer, when the area began to swell with a large, but painless abscess, my body made it known it was time to address tooth and trauma. The subsequent “redo” would not only be the remedy, it would allow the soundless wail of non-acknowledgment of harm done. My bones were demanding that I regain my sovereignty as “keeper of the precious body” and redeemer of the soul part that was shamed.
Across the years I spoke to him; “You could have said, I am sorry this has happened, I hope it will repair soon.”
Instead, it was,
“Didn’t you listen?” He chided me. “I told you this before I started. There is nothing I can do for you.”
This is classic shaming of a victim, bullying at its most basic. It was effective because I didn’t fight back, at all. I can barely recognize myself in this scenario.
So where is the evolution and the soul growth? Times have changed. I am a more conscious being, in a more conscious time and place. Today I would not have left that office without having more information, and being clearly understood. This time, twenty-five years later, I did interview the surgeon who looked at my x-ray and was able to see and explain the error, and it was an error. An error in judgment, an error in surgery. I wonder how many other people were harmed?
I decided to exorcise this old trauma. Once acknowledged it all flew out: the shame and embarrassment, the self-consciousness, the unexpressed anger. How can it be that it was sitting right there tweaking me daily with its “food trap” ways, requiring constant tending of brush and floss to keep it from exposing itself? And I didn’t notice…? How can this be?
I am awake now. I have evolved along with the expectations of medical care. For this procedure, I told my bones what was coming. I went inward and said clearly, “I have requested this action for the good of the body, I gave permission on our behalf, so please be helpful in this transaction. I am allowing a skilled person to invoke deep sleep to my conscious self, while you, my physical part, will remain alert and aware. Not to worry; the drugs will disconnect the need for pain, all is well. Yes, there will be intrusions of drug and metal. Please tap our resources and calm the body. We will benefit from our strong immune system, there will be no need for excessive bleeding. I trust these people, they will do a fine job of it!”
Intention and invocation are the best allies.
I gifted myself with deep sleep with no Novocain for the extraction, and again for the miracle of a titanium root that will last beyond me. An expensive choice that I made on my own behalf. I told my bones they will be so much stronger now. I have taken away the rotten part, they are free to concentrate on good health instead of holding the lid on keeping one of life’s incidents under wraps. In this time, this Oral surgeon’s office was something different.
There was acknowledgment, there was compassion, and there was choice.
“This is unlikely to happen again, but I can offer you a different way, it is up to you.”
I think that is all we need, respect, choice, and integrity.