Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Open Wide

There are better ways to introduce yourself than " Hi, I have a new patient appointment for tomorrow afternoon and I have a bit of a strange question. I have a severe corn allergy which means I can be allergic to the powder used on medical gloves. I want to make sure that it is not a problem if I bring gloves that I am not allergic to for the dentist to use."

The nice man who answered the phone assured me that they have people with allergies come in all the time, so they don't use latex gloves. After three rounds of "I'm not allergic to latex I'm allergic to the powder that is used on latex or latex-free gloves," I got the okay to show up with my pretty purple gloves for the dentist to use.

Step one, done. Now all I need to do is get them to rinse off everything that comes out of packaging before it goes in my mouth. I'm sure I'm going to be their crazy patient for the day -- maybe the week or the month. But I am SO not in the mood to get sick for the sake of being polite. So, the thing I need to remember going in to this is to be firm, rational and clear about what I need to be safe.

Frankly, it makes me quite nervous to put anything unknown, or out of my control in my mouth. I don't eat processed food, why would I be okay with opening my mouth for one of those dental x-ray things fresh out of the packaging? I want to know what is in/ on it, what it has been wiped or powered with, what was on the line where it was made. Too many questions that no one has ever asked the dentist, questions that they will have no idea about.

Firm, rational, clear. I can do this.

This may not be the most fun day I've ever planned, but I chipped a molar and need to get it fixed now. Tomorrow is just x-rays and consultation. No cleaning, no chemicals, not a lot that should be too out of bounds. It is a good chance to talk to them and see if they can work with me or if I need to try another office. I have no idea what I'm going to do about getting my tooth fixed. Pre-medicate and hope for the best?

Firm, rational, clear. And calm.

Breaking in a new set of people not to kill me, medical professionals at that, is not as easy as one would hope. The corn allergy is a rare enough diagnosis (particularly as reactive as I am) that they may not have encountered anyone with this little issue and can dismiss my strange requirements as those of an over reactive hypochondriac - till it is time for the Epi-Pen and the ER. If they have a sense of humor, I will be fine. Pretty purple gloves, safe soap; honestly I'm not crazy, I'm just trying to keep breathing.

Firm, rational, clear, calm. And in control.

It is too easy to become passive in a medical situation -- doctors, dentists all have worked hard for their expertise and I am there because I need their help. We've been taught to be good and cooperate to get the best care. Reverting to a child who says "Ahh" when told to open wide is not going to do me any good tomorrow or any time in the future. I need to remember that I have a uncommon problem that can be life threatening. If they can play Let's try not to kill Christine today I'm happy to be there. If they can't, I don't have to stay.

Firm, rational, clear, calm, in control. With a happy smile.

Open wide? With caution, thank you.


Pyrrh Pianissimo said...

I hope your visit went well. It is always nice to find accommodating professionals. I don't understand why they aren't more versed in food allergies. It took my dentist two weeks to find out what was in their fluoride treatment, AFTER it made me sick. They still got vague answers like "flavoring". Well, yeah, the flavoring is the problem!

Allergy Mum said...

We have to take my son to the dentist for the first time soon,it worries me because things he is allergic to are found in so many different things that most people don't even think would contain food. Thanks for posting about your experiance.
Allergy Mum -

Corn Allergy Sufferer said...

Wow, this must be pretty awful to deal with. I would think that the worst part would be the lack of understanding as to what you're actually allergic too. I'm also allergic to corn, but not nearly this bad. A little bit won't have too much of an impact.

Last time I was in the hospital I specifically told them I was allergic to corn and anything derived from corn, but obviously they didn't understand. They hooked me up to a corn based drip, and also when I was done my surgery they asked if I wanted a can of soda (filled with corn syrup and other goodies).

Its amazing how ignorant most people are when it comes to this type of thing.