Life-changing Health & Dental Discoveries
The Mysterious Link Part 1
Have you ever had unexplained pain? Or pain and exhaustion that seems to have an explanation but no remedy? There may be a simple (yet seemingly crazy) reason why.
This is a two-part story due to the tangled knot of discovery and efforts to unravel my very own mystery. You may see yourself or someone you know in the following experiences.
A Health Roller Coaster with Serious Consequences
In 2006, I was working as a commissioned sales rep in Florida and having a long-distance relationship, traveling every couple of weeks to Tennessee. After about six months of building a sales territory and traveling back and forth, my boyfriend (eventually my husband Ken) who lived in Knoxville decided to move to Florida to be with me. We bought a house together in June and got ready to settle in when a fantastic job opportunity for Ken presented itself — in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the fall of 2006, we rented a house in Vegas and had to fly three hours each way to be together, while leaving my fur-baby with dog sitters. I did most of the traveling and ended up working in Vegas and Florida, opening new customer accounts in my new location for one or two weeks a month. Being on commission meant I had to find a way to work in both states and build a new territory to keep my income stable.
Back and forth I went for eight months, finally deciding to relocate to Las Vegas and give up half of my Florida territory, while keeping the house in Florida, just in case. I wasn’t there two months when the owners of the company Ken went to work for sold it and closed the business. We had to drive back to Florida with our dog Barney and as much household stuff as we could manage and resettle once again.
The list of stressful situations that followed is too lengthy to detail here, but suffice it to say the immense financial strain, work issues, emotional stress, and physical toll came together like the perfect storm, and in the fall of 2008, I crashed. I was sick with respiratory infections and strep throat for months and couldn’t seem to get back on track.
All the while, I had been getting Vitamin C IVs, doing functional medicine, exercising, getting deeper into yoga, and socializing with friends – all the right things for my body and my spirit, but it wasn’t enough. My health just continued to slip.
When we live high-stress lives, eventually our bodies say enough is enough. Mine just happened to do it sooner than most and mixed with what came next, spelled disaster.
A Weakened Immune System + a Bad Dental Filling Altered the Rest of My Life
Back in Florida full-time, not being able to be my normal high-energy self was frustrating and it got even worse when, in December 2009, I had an old dental filling replaced. It should have been an easy procedure, but it didn’t go as planned, thanks to a very inexperienced dentist. I got a tooth infection, had to take antibiotics, and ended up with my first root canal and crown a few months later in March 2010.
This is when my worn-down immune system and the dentist’s bad filling collided … it was the perfect storm that influenced and altered the next two years, and really, the rest of my life.
Finally, Some Dental Health Relief … Maybe?
The tooth infection was relentless, which led to an apicoectomy (basically, a deeper root canal) in July, and another new crown. I was also on Amoxicillin the entire time (seven months), which was counter-intuitive to natural medicine and my beliefs about antibiotic use, but felt I had no choice.
Then, on a vacation in late August, the throbbing in my face was so awful I ended up having the molar and crown yanked on Labor Day weekend. That was fun! Once it came out, the dentist could see a major infection way up high in my face, so back on antibiotics. By this point, the total dental experience had cost $4100 … now the crown was in the garbage. Ouch! But I finally had some relief from the constant pain in my mouth and head.
That same summer, I had also begun suffering from a painful right hip and groin. The vice-like tightness and stabbing, shooting pain in my groin and thigh worsened until somedays I could barely walk. Being someone who thrives on exercise and outdoor activity, this was an emotionally and physically draining issue.
I was running on pure frustration. I had recently turned forty and thought, “Well, isn’t this wonderful? I can hardly wait to see what fifty is like.” I was not in a good place spiritually. However, I did start feeling better after the infected molar was pulled, and within a couple of months, my hip pain receded enough that I could get back to yoga and light exercise. Finally some relief. Until …
The Dental Implant Process that Led to Mystery #1
In January 2011, I began what I consider the “violent” process of a dental implant to replace the missing molar. It had been three months since it was pulled.
About three months into the process, I started having allergic reactions to literally everything. I was covered in hives and my lips, tongue, throat, and cheeks were raw, swollen, and blistered all the time. It was especially bad in the morning; my lips would crack and bleed from the swelling. I looked like Goldie Hawn in First Wives Club. If it didn’t hurt so much it might have been funny, but I was miserable and scared.
What if whatever I was allergic to caused me to stop breathing while I slept? I eliminated everything I was eating in stages trying to figure it out. I lost about fifteen pounds that I really didn’t need to lose. This went on throughout the summer as I went to numerous allergists and specialists trying to figure out the mystery. Nobody had any answers.
I continued to limp from the hip pain (no exercise, couldn’t even walk the dog) and managed a swollen face and continual hives. I was thin, tired, gaunt, and afraid of everything. I didn’t want to go anywhere for fear I’d pass out (as I had started to do often, in public, on dirty floors). I was racking up tens of thousands of dollars of debt on holistic and regular medical treatments and tests. Depression and fear were my constant companions (though outwardly, I pretended otherwise).
What was happening to me?
A Severe Nickel Allergy & an Angel Named Sandra
At this point, the dental issue and hip pain had been going on for nearly two years! Just as I gave in to feeling totally lost and out of ideas, along came an angel, my dermatologist’s PA, Sandra, who had been doing my mole checks for years and knew me very well.
In early September 2011, I told her what was going on and she asked, “Didn’t you have your wedding ring reset because of the nickel in the white gold?” I looked at her strangely, and replied, “Yes, why?”
“There’s nickel in silverware and cooking utensils and pans and a lot of food,” she explained. She suggested I eat with plastic and use ceramic pans and knives and research foods containing nickel. For the next couple of days, I ate with plastic and the reactions lessened. I researched and learned fermented foods, beer, wine, chocolate, some seafood, and root vegetables have a lot of nickel. I started avoiding the long list of those foods as well.
Within a week or so, the worst spot in and around my mouth was a stripe on my tongue and cheek below where the temporary abutment (screw) was holding the place for my soon-to-be permanent dental implant and crown.
It was the cheap metal dental abutment in my mouth causing the issue!
I called the periodontist and learned that I could get the permanent titanium implant and crown right away.
At last, I had a gorgeous new molar and massive relief knowing I could control my allergy to nickel. I bought nickel-free silverware, ceramic pans, and knives, and made sure my mixer, toaster, and other items were nickel-free, though I had to continue to eat with plastic for many, many months when we went out to restaurants — so embarrassing! I always felt compelled to explain myself to the server, “I’m allergic to nickel,” I would sheepishly say. I ordered things that were grilled (to avoid stainless steel pans) and food that I could eat with chopsticks. It took several months for my raw mouth to completely calm down, but eventually, it did.
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi
The Nickel Allergy Was the Tip of the Iceberg
Finally, at the end of 2011, my mouth irritation and immune system exhaustion seemed to be getting better. The implant was finished, so all I had to figure out was why my hip hurt so much that my daily workouts, yoga, walking the dog, and sitting for very long, especially writing, were still a challenge.
Little did I know the nickel allergy and dental issue were the tip of a very deep iceberg that altered my life’s course so much, that within another 8 months, I was facing life in a wheelchair.
If you’ve ever had unexplained pain, chronic illness that comes out of nowhere, crazy allergic reactions, and/or a root canal or dental implant, be sure to read The Mysterious Link, Part 2, coming soon.
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