For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Human Stuff We Don't Talk About...But Maybe Should

I have spent much of the holiday on my couch. A few weeks ago I had a root canal done that went a bit wonky. My dentist did his part perfectly. My dental genetics, which is the cause of the root canal in the first place, did their usual antics, be a pain. Figuratively and literally.

The pain had finally subsided nearly 10 days later when the next phase of treatment started. Due to bone structure, which is to say I have very little bone structure in my upper jaw, the sinus cavity sits on the bone and in some cases, on the roots of some of my upper teeth. the result is a lot of pain in my sinus area and teeth and my teeth are decaying despite all efforts and all hygiene habits to stop them.

There are two solutions. First, we can do a major sinus surgery and lift the cavity and then do at least one bone graft but possibly more. Long time. Lots of pain. THEN we root canal and crown every tooth I have on the top. In case your trying to calculate the cost of this in your head, imagine both kids' college funds and then some. The crowns alone would be over $10k out of my pocket. And, there are no guarantees it'll save my teeth. Very unlikely since the crown and post I have now are one of the major issues we have to address. Second option. Embrace it for what it is. Genetics are not always kind. Remove all the upper teeth since something has to be done and cope with being 44 and having dentures.

Yep. 44. And I need dentures.

Despite great hygiene and thousands of dollars worth of dental work, I have to have dentures.

Something in that just feels completely wrong to me.

But as I write this, now from my recliner, we have started efforts to keep my lower teeth as long as possible and have begun the removal of the upper teeth, which is surprisingly hard to write because I fight this mental shame. No one who knows about this has said anything that would make me feel ashamed. In fact, those who know about it are thrilled. They have walked the road of horrific sinus headaches and infections with me and the ongoing tooth troubles. They aren't embarrassed that a friend of theirs is getting dentures. They are excited that their friend is getting out of pain.

So why do I feel ashamed?

I think I was taught to. Let's look at society for a moment. People who lose their teeth aren't pretty. In fact, they are deemed "hicks" or "rednecks", folks of lesser social couth than the general populace. Their lack of basic hygiene and social standards are obvious. I was on a dating site one time, and a man's profile said bluntly, "If you don't have all your teeth, I don't have any interest." Wow. Are teeth that important, or is he making some serious leaps of character judgment based on dental records?

And here I am putting it out there for the world, "I have a significant number of missing biological teeth, and it is going to get worse."

Why would I tell any of you that? Two reasons.

1. I want to tell you about Christmas, but to really understand, you have to know the back story of why I am on my couch in a medicated haze.

2. As I've talked to friends about my dental issue, I've realized a few things. A lot more people have crowns, partials, bridges, and dentures than I ever imagined. Some even younger than me. I had no idea. And, I can't tell you anything about my friends' teeth. I can tell you about their eyes, their hugs, their height because of their hugs, their hearts, but nothing about their teeth. They have teeth. I think I would notice if they didn't, but maybe I wouldn't. Maybe I'm too busy seeing inside them that I'm less concerned with what decorates them.

Maybe some of y'all are facing issues like this, too. Maybe you are having to face some minor or even major physical change that society likes to tag as a failure or an identity changer or a value-lessener. Whatever it is, I hope you know you are not the only one who has dealt with the mental or emotional pain of what you can't control, wondering how you will look, wondering how people will react.

I wish I could tell you we live in a world where that doesn't matter, but that would be a lie. To some folks, it obviously matters a lot. What I can tell you is you don't need to feel ashamed or like a failure. You don't need to let this piece of you define all of you, and you are not alone in finding your way through the thoughts and emotions of it all. And you might be surprised who knows exactly how you feel but just never said anything because they didn't think anyone would understand how they felt.

And if nothing else, for what it is worth, I can relate. Won't tell you I "understand" because I might not, but I can relate, which is to say I understand being embarrassed because the body is wondrously made but it is still made of clay that cracks and breaks. Sort of stinks, but it is what it is. So if you need someone who gets the frustration of living in a human body, I'm your girl.

Besides that, though, is Christmas, and I really want to tell you about Christmas. You might wonder what kind of Christmas happens when you spend a few weeks medicated on your couch and can't really get out and do anything that resembles Christmas. Well, in my case, Christmas came to my couch.

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