Greetings and handshakes.
Pipes and politicians...
I mean, look at the jaws on that man!
I’ve been looking at jaws a lot lately, especially after these past few months; it’s incredible how we take our jaws for granted!
Last March, after a few weeks of severe pain in my lower right teeth, my dentist took a panoramic x-ray of my face—one that started just below my eyeballs and ended below my chin—and he saw a shadow. It was long, set deep in my mandible; it was below my teeth and partially in my jawbone.
“What the hell is that?” I whispered.
“I don’t know,” he answered, “but I know it shouldn’t be there.”
I had a biopsy: the oral surgeon punched a hole in my jawbone, went in, cleaned out the area as best he could; sent a sample to a laboratory near
“I think it’s just an infection,” he said, “but the biopsy will make certain.”
I relaxed a bit—the surgeon wasn’t too concerned. I started taking an antibiotic, lived through several painful days of stitches in my mouth (and another course of antibiotics when it became infected).
On the tenth day, my phone rang.
“It’s not cancer,” he said, “but it’s not good.”
I was diagnosed with an odontogenic tumor—a tumor caused by a rogue toothbud.
The method of treatment?
“Jaw resection,” he said.
People say that life changes in an instant, and I now know exactly what that means; I was terrified.
I wanted a second opinion. I was referred to
Massachusetts General Hospital in .
The oral surgeon there (who looked to be about fourteen years old) sat me in a
chair, looked me in the eye and said, “I’m not going to take your jaw; we don’t
do that here anymore.” Boston
I burst into tears.
I had surgery in mid-May. They took my lower right teeth, went in through the top of my jaw and inserted an irrigation port that sits on my gumline, then wired it to my other teeth for stability. And my job is to irrigate twice a day...the tumor will shrink and my jaw will begin to replace bone that the tumor has destroyed; in about a year, they’ll go back in, remove the smaller tumor and freeze the lining of the cavity.
And I’ll be done.