Today we did a marathon drive to Houston and visited the parts department at MDA. Well, actually, it was the dental clinic on the ninth floor, where we had a short, one-hour meeting with Dr. Hofsteade. On my last visit, she made an impression of my teeth (what few are left) and when we were taken into the room where she would work, we found a mold with my lower teeth and a brand new acrylic piece that will serve as a base for a few teeth over my new titanium and bone jawbone.
The piece is a lot bigger than I imagined. I thought it would just be a short piece that clipped onto the posts they implanted in my leg bone (in my mouth now). This piece was constructed in two parts. One fits behind my lower teeth and runs just behind them all the way over to the next to last tooth on my right side. It expends out on the left over the cap they installed over the posts on my last surgery.
I thought they were just going to replace that cap, but instead, that cap ended up being glued to this new piece to form an apparatus that runs from one side of my mouth to the other, just behind my teeth.
There are two wire clips that grab hold of teeth on the right side to stabilize this thing, and clips that attach the left side to those posts they implanted.
It sounds more complex than it is. I can tug on the far right wire with a fingernail, and lift the entire thing up to loosen it. Then I can pull it out of my mouth for cleaning. I reverse the process to put it back in.
Supposedly, I will wear this all the time, except when I take it out for cleaning. For the next two weeks, I have to put some antiseptic, fluoride cream between the bottom of the left side and my posts and ne gum tissue to promote healing some more. It turns out there is some rawness still there, largely due to the extended time between my last visit and today.
We left Austin in a heavy rain, but that rain only extended East about 30 miles. Then it cleared up and was sunny as we got over to Houston. This was our first trip that way since Harvey hit Houston, and we were not sure what to expect. It turned out that we saw little in the way of damage, but heard a few stories.
MD Anderson was shut down for the first time in its history for a full week. They have a basement level where a lot of equipment is kept, including the machinery used to sterilize tools used for surgery. That entire area flooded. Apparently, after Katrina, they did add flood control systems in that area, but Harvey overwhelmed everything.
The people we talked to had not been affected by the flooding, other than losing a week of work. But it was obvious there had been a lot of water in other areas of town.
As we approached the junction between US71 and I-10 in Columbus, TX, we saw a huge field that was typically covered with pipes being used in local construction projects. This time, all we saw in that field was a ton of cars, maybe 2000 of them. My first thought was this was some kind of rock concert, but we knew nothing o that. Than I noticed that front-loader tractors were carrying cars around and plopping them down next to each other. They were very close together, and all has a white tag on the windshield.
We finally figure out that these were cars damaged by flooding, probably all now owned by insurance companies. I do not know if they were just drying out, or what their future will be. However, we have heard warnings on the news around here to be wary of new or slightly used cars. They might be flood damaged, and the "deals" might end up being anything but a deal.
On the way back, we passed several trucks carrying anywhere from one to ten cars all marked with tags indicating they were "recovering" vehicles. They were all probably headed to the same field, but we did hear there were several other fields like the one we saw around Houston.
After Dr Hofsteade finished fitting my new dental apparatus, My favorite artist, Patty, came in to look over my eye. (We have decided to start calling it the "iFake". We had it in a briefcase with an iPhone and an iPad, so iFake seemed appropriate. I briefly thought about iEye, but threw that idea out.
Patty declared that my iFake was in pretty good shape for being two years old, but it did not fit anymore. Insurance will cover a new one every two years, so we made plans to build another one, which we will get in November when I return for my next CT scan.
Patty plastered my face with her magic goo to build a mold for the new eye. She made the mold over my right side as well. She uses that side as a pattern when building the new left eye, so they will look right together. She also uses photos she flips with PhotoShop to make sure the eye looks as natural as it can.
We talked about her building me a solid plastic mold that will fit in my left eye area as well. I have wanted to build a Terminator styled carbon-fiber fake eye with a computer controlled red LED ring. Just like in the movies. That will give me something cool to wear on Halloween, or maybe to class to freak out the students.
Hey, when you go through things like this, you have to have SOME fun!
We made plans for another marathon visit to MDA in November, when Dr Hofsteade will install a second apparatus, this one with teeth, Patty will build my new iFake, and I will go through another CT scan and visit with Dr. Lai to make sure the cancer is still gone.
The trip home was uneventful, except we ran into rain again when we got back to Austin. We both are noticing that the trips to and from Houston do not seem as long as they did. We are certainly getting used to them. We both noted how grateful we are to be close enough to MDA to get their care, and we are very thankful that things are going so well.
To all who read this blog, I want to thank you for reading through my story. It is a sad fact that the older you get the more adventures with the medical profession you will encounter. Hopefully, those adventures will involve you helping someone else, not experiencing these things yourself. Just remember that whatever role you play, care giver or patient, those you see at places like MDA are going through the same things as you. Some are doing better, some worse. All need support and care. I try to be cheerful, even playful, with those around me. I think it helps both them and me.
As I told Cheryl on the way back home. I seem to have a way with puppies, kitties, and medical staff. My approach to dealing with this experience seems to make them feel better, and it certainly makes me feel better as well.
Cancer is a beast, but it does no one any good to dwell on the negatives in this experience. Live your life and enjoy it as best as you can. And love those around you. I would be lost in all of this, if it were not for Cheryl's constant love and support!