I was a weird child.
It's 1947. I slept an a crib in a fetal position, with the left ring-finger and the big digit, two fingers sucking away to oblivion. I'm 68, and my gnarled integer, the big digit, lives even today, crooked. I twisted my brown hair, stick-straight, forming a smooth curlycue with my right hand. I was 6. Hey, I'm no psychiatrist...
My Mom was agoraphobic, just a little. Tucked inside were notes, for the butcher, the fruit market and the electric bill for Allison News. I could read quite well. Off I go, bills in my pocket and bags of stuff would appear on the table. Out of breath, I lived in a second-floor apartment with stairs yet, I counted the change of Mom. I was a skinny tot.
Mom's affliction with agoraphobia, coincidentally, buried Grandpap, my grandpap, in 1962. She was devastated. She never left the house; dark glasses, the blinds pulled down and quasi-died, essentially. I was a teen-ager. I was an only child of Josephine and Charles Yezek. Jo died of a whopping aneurysm in 1971 and Charlie died of old age in 2001, respectively, 72 and 87. Charlie's a plumber; he is disheveled and looks like an unmade bed. My dad is amiable drunkard and he never missed a day's work...and he's smart. An odd family, but I loved my parents.
I wear Mom's wedding band. It's platinum and gold, for the symbol of an psychotic union of unbalanced marriage. Jo and Charley spent 50 years, sometimes wonderful and sometimes, well, not. All because of spite. Mom and Dad were cremated.
I never owned a toothbrush. Mom has no teeth to speak of. I was four. I remember Mom and I walked to the bank building on Main St., where the dentist's office is.
"Go to the bank building and sit there," she ordered. "I'll be back."
A half and hour later, bloody and toothless and the dentist pulled out the teeth. She threw the teeth away, in the garbage. Never mind the fittings, swollen gums and the pain, eventually subsided with the smooth-fitting dentures. Quite simply, "They hurt," said Mom. Just like a child. Dad caved, of course. Mom was gumless to this day.
"Open wide," the doctor said.
Dr. William Robinson lives across the street from my house College Avenue. I was 12 years old and I have tonsillitis. Mom gives me the note for the doctor for authorization. Clearly agoraphobic, my Mom is afraid of the doctor's office.
The tonsillitis is inflamed, red and the pus-like abscesses were sore. The plaque and tartar and caries from my teeth were odorous.
"Don't you ever brush?" said the doctor, wincing.
The doctor prescribes the medication for tonsillitis. He rips the pad of paper and a note. "Give this to your Mom. You need a dentist."
My Mom looked in the window, she peeked out from the curtains. I explained that the doctor detected a rank odor. "Here," indicating.
She read the note. Mom peered at the caries.
"It's just baby teeth,'' she said, incredulous. Two incisors, the two front teeth, were in bad repair. The holes were showing in my tongue.
Mom turned to the Yellow Pages for "Dentist" and scheduled the appointment. I was in the eighth grade and I have soft teeth as a teenager. It's 1960.
The essential instruments, the whirring of the drill, the copious amounts of Novocain, the canines and molars are decaying and marginal. The drill worked over-time and the dentist studies the cavities. Filling after filling, tooth after tooth, the drill cleaned out the cavities and silver fillings intruded insidiously. Little silver fillings of mercury, amalgam fillings. I didn't know. Nobody knew. Well, the dentists, apparently.
"Here. For you," the assistant said, handing a foreign substance known as a toothbrush. I had gleaming teeth. The incisors looked fine to me and I have fresh, minty breath.
Conservatively, the fillings in my teeth were 40 to 50 percent. That's a lot of mercury. The silver amalgams are actually half mercury, 50%. Silver fillings contain a mix of zinc, copper and tin. It's deadly. The mercury is second only by plutonium. I called in 2009 for my dental records in 1960, a long time ago, but the old records were gone. Seven years is the maximum.
Little silver fillings.
I was about 19 or 20 . My dentist-to-be, Jack, was an acquaintance and familiar friend. Jack's wife and I became riding buddies at California State College (aka California University in Pennsylvania, Cal U). Kathy and I were commuters. Jack finished dental school.
Meanwhile, I was married to Frank Yankowski (ex-ex-ex-husband), had a baby, Jeff, and the teeth were rank. I called Jack and the copious root canals, amalgams and bridgework were in order. The new bridgework, eight teeth all told, left and right on my two front teeth.
Over time, my mouth had a whiff of odor, a metallic taste. I overheard the dentist say to the assistant, "God. She has bad breath."
I chewed gum and Tic Tac for my breath. A funky bad metallic taste was there. Your the dentist. Do something. But they never did.
It was a summer day in June on a Sunday in Latrobe, Pa. I was drinking, slightly; one or two Rolling Rock's. My cohort, Marie Bodziak from Volkswagen, threw a party. I was in alone in the car. I careened up a hill and crashed my Volkswagen Rabbit. It was a major car-crash. I fractured my teeth at the jaw-line, and split my lip. Major stitches, inside and out. I used a stabilizer and the teeth were hanging on a thread. It was not pretty. I was 35.
I was in Latrobe Hospital (Excela) emergency room and Dr. Ted Lazzaro is a plastic surgeon (Aestique Medical Center & Spa in Greensburg, Pa.). Right time, right circumstance. My chin healed well and left side, my molar, premolar, canine and incisor were loose. Very loose.
I removed the stabilizer from my other dentist, and sent me to a prosthodontist for missing teeth in Greensburg. I remember yelping alot. Twenty-four hours later, my lymph glands were hurting in the throat. A week passed. I could see the nodules. I called Dr. Lazzaro, not a prosthodontist, and he diagnosed cellulitis.
I blew up with cellulitis. My throat closed up and my neck exploded. I was one sick girl. Dr. Lazzaro ordered Keflex, an antibiotic at 2000 mg. and it subsided, finally.
Consequentially, I am afraid to go to a dentist. A little bit of "Mad Hatter's" from mercury?
August 14, 1982, Ozzie Schlueter (ex-ex-husband) and I were married. My ever-present teeth were wobbly, at best. Ozzie and I transferred to Volkswagen Fort Worth, Texas and I searched for a dentist. My next appointment was in Azle, Texas. Reluctantly, I told the dentist about cellulitis and my neck. I'm terrified to go to a dentist. Unconcerned, the dentist built a bridge to the left molar on down. Five teeth all told. The molar had a silver cap on it, three teeth were silver for stability and the canine and incisor as well.
I still have the bridgework years ago. I saved it. The bridgework came loose. It's heavy and dense and suspicious for mercury or nickel. I emailed four industrial labs, but they only analyze enviromental samples. I'm still looking.
Oz and I split up at 1985 and he is at large in Fort Worth. I traveled to Michigan; Troy, Romeo, New Haven, Washington and Macomb Township. I moved a lot in Michigan. I worked in Chrysler Motors building cars, among other things.
I visited the dentist office only once in Romeo, probably 1986. Filling out the questionnaire, "yes", I'm afraid and apprehensive, "yes" I had a funky taste in my mouth. A metallic taste. Yuck. The dentist advised mouthwash. Unconcerned, the dentist filled the tooth.
By this time, I have Afib, heart-stopping, a wish-a-was-dead, pounding, hammering on my chest. Yes, I had myriad physicians; the ER doc, family practice and cardiologists. The doctors were stumped; no chest pains, hammering palpitations and then, miraculously, it stopped...and then it started again. Diagnosis: Take a pill. Any pill. I was anxious and fearful and chewed Tic Tac non-stop.
To 1990, I never went to the dentist. The novelist Joseph Heller said it's a Catch-22. I have the fantasy of choice to the dentist's office, but averting any real choice. What if I died in the dentist chair from Afib? That will not be good.
I have a new symptom in my mouth. It's a inflamed canine, left lower jaw, deep in the root, from my accident. Three times a year, conservatively, I used Keflex to ease the pain. The medication worked, 3 times a day for 10 days and the doctor (any old doctor) of choice wrote a script. And, repeat the process for 15 years. I used a lot of Keflex.
Charley Yezek , my dad, was in Shady Side Hospital in Pittsburgh for myriad surgeries. Dur Roller and I were married in '95. In 1997, I talked to doctors about pacemakers, prostrate cancer and Dilantin levels. Dad was fine, but he had dementia in 2001. He eventually died.
My husband Dur, "Something's is wrong with your mouth. There's pus coming out of it." he announced. I looked in Charley's mirror in the bathroom.
"Eww," I said.
Sure enough, the canine was festering. I tried peroxide, hot salt water rinses and mouthwash. I used the medication, but the Keflex doesn't work any more.
Exit to Shady Side Hospital. Now what?
Charley wanted to kill me Fourth of July, 1999. Not good. It's the Alzheimer's; demented, confused and paranoid, I called Highlands Hospital Mental Health in Connellsville, Pa. via ambulance. It was agonizing. Charley went to the personal care home in Mt. Pleasant, Pa.
Dur divorced in June, 1999.
Come September, the mouth was killing me. My teeth are excruciating. Seventeen years at the dentist is a long time. (Remember Jack?) I called the dentist, and scheduled the appointment, but I'm skittish. I cancelled, fearful of the Afib. Besides, something is wrong for the insurance. Pesky divorce. I rinsed and gargled and, finally, after two weeks it waned.
December 20, 1999 had a stroke. Frick Hospital (Excela) in Mt. Pleasant and Allegheny General in Pittsburgh are murky at best. I had violent Afib and my teeth were unbearably painful. I couldn't speak or walk. One-word sentences. Weird.
Enter Heathsouth, a rehab facility in Monroeville, Pa. My right arm and leg were dead. The doctor, every blessed morning with out fail, took vital signs. It was extremely early and the dead of winter. He had a congenial smile, fluffy, fuzzy hair, albeit a receding hair line, and thick horn-rimmed glasses.
He flicked the light switch on my bed. The stethoscope was frigid.
"Good morning. How are you? Breathe please?"
"Teeth," I indicating the lower jaw.
Teeth? See? The teeth are inflamed, red and infectious.
"Huh," he inspected the teeth, "you need a dentist."
The nurses and nurse's aide brought mouthwash, floss and Plax. I gargled vigorously and often. The metallic taste was stale and reeking.
The doctors scheduled two appointments, consultants for Aetna, for the dentists in Monroeville, one after the other. Two dentists vied over xray's and general well-being. The van is warm and toasty in the bleak, frigid January. The nurses bundled me up in this snowbound winter's day. I'm overjoyed from fresh, brisk, clean air. My nose was happy. Needless to say, I'm wheel-chair bound. The dentist accepted, probably for insurance purposes.
Next door to Forbes Regional Health Center, I had rampant Afib. The Healthsouth was custodial care, Forbes Regional had an emergency room. The ambulance took me. Numerous times, four times in the ER, I had heart-stopping Afib. I was admitted for the third time for dental surgery and Healthsouth for Afib..
So, a gloomy Saturday morning, six o'clock yet, I had surgery. I looked at my window, it's sleeting in Monroeville. Well, that's just wonderful.
The postoperative diagnosis was an mandibular abscess, septic tooth and supraventricular tachycardia and Coumadin/heparin therapy. I had intravenous sedation and the silver fillings, at least ten, stayed put.
Heathsouth didn't want me back. The fourth time was the charm. The ambulance took me to the ER, yet again, for erratic beats. The Forbes Regional said "the patient will not be accepted back to Healthsouth..." forever, I presume. The discharge summary physician suggested Lopresser; it's beta-blocker and slows the heart. Take a pill; any pill.
I rolled my eyes. I was speechless and aphasic, of course. The beta-blocker doesn't work. Trust me.
Harmon House was a manse in Mt. Pleasant, Pa. a sprawling edifice for geriatrics. It's a nursing home. Me. How did I get here? I'm 52, an indentured by my wheel chair..
Additional to the rest home, there is an Assisted Living Center, 60 suites, for the seniors. Amber House is top-notch.
The ambulance driver pulled up to the kitchen. The paramedics wheeled me in on a gurney and an ancient soul with vacant eyes, looked at me quizzically. This is not good. She's 90, at least. She and I are roomies.
The nurses' aides and the nurses are wonderful; kind, generous and caring. The housekeepers, with flatus, feces and spewed retching, are constantly on the move, and disinfecting at the ready. The housekeepers are meticulous.
That said, I couldn't wait to get out of here. Five long months.
The array of drugs I have are many; Lopresser, Calan (three times a day), the insidious warfarin, Lanoxin, Zocor, and a stool softener. I'm drugged up, to say the least.
Today, metoprolol (Lopressor), morning and evening, 25 mg., aspirin, krill oil, D-3 (vitamins). Statins were not for me, terrible joint pains. I look like an little old lady. My cholesterol was 275. Yeah, it's high. I have "benign blood pressure".
My cardiologist was 12 years old, at least, and neckties with Loony Tunes, specifically, the Tasmanian Devil. Actually, quite competent with my heart muscle. The doctor prescribed the patch. The deliberate heart slows down to a standstill.
In the morning, there's something wrong.
"Heart? No!" I vehemently indicating the patch from the heart. The slow-paced heart, the halting heart, was crawling.
I ripped the patch off. The nurses understood and cardiologist knew. The heart guy discontinued the patch.
Meanwhile, my teeth hurt.
One month after the septic tooth from Forbes Health, the teeth are painful and hurting. The social worker called, a completely new dentists by now, out of Greensburg and Mt. Pleasant. In Mt. Pleasant, the dentist was booked solid. They catered to children anyway. The dentist in Greensburg took a full set of x-rays and diagnosed the problem.
"You have an infection, a rampant infection, in your gums and teeth," the dentist concluded. Do you think?
My social worker and I scheduled an appointment for next week. Full of apprehension, I'm worried about Afib. Next week came and went, I fretted about violent throbbing. My appointment is today in the afternoon.
Out of the blue, Linda Urban Soltis, Pat DiPadova Hall (now deceased) and Lois Ford came for a visit. They're Volkswagen buddies and company closed it's doors in the eighties. Jeffrey came as well, and discussed my infected teeth. I nodded and smiled with vigor, and I was an absolute wordless mute. Once a upon a time, I was sarcastic, witty and scathing. Not any more.
"Maybe the stroke caused this," said Linda to Jeff.
Bingo. Maybe it is.
The girls left and Jeffrey had to work. It's mid-afternoon. Where's the dentist? I putted down to the nurses' stations in my wheel chair.
"Dentist? Van? What?" I explained.
There's a mix-up with the insurance paperwork, the nurse said.
I was enormously relieved, sort of. No palpitations with the chair. Of course, I was hurting. Palpitations versus rampant infections. Hmm. No contest. The drugs stuporous and benign at the same time; the hypertensive medication were groggy and kind to me. I felt calm and irritated. I was a wreck. I'm drugged up and infectious. God is laughing.
No mention of the dentist's office. I moved to Amber House in June and July, custodial care, and Jeff finally got a care-giver for AccessAbilties from Westmoreland County. December till July; I'm, at long last, going home.
I missed the psychotic Johann, the German shepherd. Jeff had a coworker who got the dog. My next-door neighbor, Dorothy Lloyd, fed the cats. She's 80+ and she's the Energizer Bunny. I loved Dorothy. (She died at 93, Feb. 13, 2010) Jeff helped also, with fresh water, Friskies food and cleaning the feline litter box. Seven months is a long time. The cats are overjoyed.
I have a caregiver and no more wheel chair. I'm walking with a quad-cane. It's 2000.
Aunt Mary Ann (she is my Mom's sister) and uncle Knip Knipple saw me many times at Harmon House. My caregiver Carla is stable, smart and 40 years old. I have halting sentences and aphasia. Carla and Mary Ann coordinated the trip to the dentist's office. Carla called the dentist, a new dentist Dr. Thomas Gretz (Senior and Junior), in Scottdale, Pa. and scheduled the next appointment.
Knip is agitator, a kidder and stirs up trouble. He is demented, in a good way. The early fog mist, over the mountain, was thick. Mary Ann and Knip turned into the driveway in my house.
"Are you nervous about the dentist? said Mary Ann.
Are you kidding me? I have gulped down Lopressor, Calan and Lanoxin, in the morning and the evening, thank you very much. I was nonplus, slow-witted and silly. I'm in the zone. The populous is over-medicated, in my opinion.
"Yes," I lied. The verdict is the same; an infection, the dentist said. Could be mercury fillings?
Carla Ware is my caregiver for five years and she's a good friend and chum. Carla's Dad had leukemia for two years. No family history to speak of and dad was failing. Dad died, of course. She and I perused the internet for leukemia, toxic waste, polluted arsenic, mercury and onerous bad stuff. Could it be mercury?
And then the light came on.
Of course. Mercury fillings, silver amalgams in my teeth. I remember, thank God. My Mom used to say, "polluted". Somewhere, something the recesses of my little brain were humming. Years ago, 60 Minutes had a segment about mercury and the repercussions of mercury. Mercury can interfere with dental and periodontal disease, allergies, GI disorders, palpitations, high and low blood pressure and central nervous system. Mercury is lethal and poisonous to all cells.
Dentist's know this. I'm not a physician, or a dentist, or a science guy. I obtained medical records for the hospital. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration in December 14-15, 2010, discussed mercury fillings in pregnant women, young children and alternative methods for tooth decay.
My son Jeff is 46 now. Every spring and fall the dreaded eczema appears. Every so often the obsessive-compulsive disorder rears it's grave head. The actions repetitive, ritualistic and compulsive. Mercury fillings passed to the pregnant women, to the placenta, to the baby. Yes, me and Jeffrey. Jeff never had eczema and OCD. Ever.
My granddaughter Jordan is a reed thin sweetie, with angular features and long lines. She's 14. She eats like a truck driver, craves sugar and she loves fruit. She inherited eczema; wisps of eczema from elbows and knees, ever so faint, in the springtime.
Fayette Transportation carted me, actually a bus, back and forth to the dentist in Scottdale, four long years worth.
I couldn't speak at all with the stroke. Well, awkward sentences in 2005.
But I was deep cleaned from the hygienist and had four apicoectomies (an infected tooth). Yes, palpitations, violent palpitations in the dentist chair, no rhyme or reason. I had two, numerous teeth from the mandible to the jaw and a dead tooth.
"Pull them," I said, emphatically. "Hurts."
"Pull them out?," said the dentist, disbelieving, "all the way out? The teeth are fine."
"Pull them. Mercury?" I said. "Metallic?"
Of course, I couldn't speak a lick, but in my mind I thought: Do you know it hurts? The teeth are infected, to be sure, poisonous, toxic, noxious teeth are damaged. The teeth are the problem. The metallic taste is the problem. Mercury fillings is the problem. Get them out.
I waited for authorization from the insurance group.
A crazy lady with a stroke. The dentist complied. Gently.
The dentist pulled the teeth '05. The stench in my mouth was unbearable. One by one, the dental forceps extracted the teeth. Forty years is a long time. Cell by cell, organ by organ, took it's toll. The long, slow, process is over and I was overjoyed. The blood coagulated and dentist placed the dentures in my mouth.
Every month for six-months, the swollen dentures were better and better. No swollen gums, hot-spots and tumescent facial features. The metallic taste was gone instantly and the dentures were healing. No pain to speak of.
Two years, more or less, the Afib and the panic attacks gone. (Mercury stay's for a long, long time.) After the stroke, I had at least once-a-week for Afib; pounding, heart-stopping, life-or-death Afib for at least 20 years. I took the metoprolol (Lopressor); and it doesn't help. Yeah, it's a beta-blocker. Yeah, it reduces the heart-rate. I get that.
Everybody's looking for a quick-fix. Let the body heal itself.