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Pamela Fagan Hutchins | Peace out. Part 1.

Peace doesn’t flow like a river at our house.  Between kid drama (always), puppy drama, work, finances, and Eric’s and family health issues, peace has dammed up the waterway lately, creating a dark lake of ugh, especially for my husband.

Remember Eric’s abscess, and the upcoming re-root canal?  Several of you warned me that the infections of the teeth are potentially quite serious. That they can impact the heart, the brain, and other organs.   Well, it turned out you were right.

Eric started a new, stronger antibiotic for his mouth, and his endodontist cried uncle and punted Eric to an oral surgeon who couldn’t get him scheduled for two weeks.  Meanwhile, the new antibiotic failed.  It failed spectacularly.

We figured out the antibiotic was not working when we went for a run together a few nights ago.  The endodontist did not prohibit Eric from running, possibly because Eric failed to tell him about the elevated pulse running caused him recently.  I suspect there was also some crafting of the report I received from my husband about his restrictions.

So, back to our run.  My super-fit husband had tremendous difficulty from the get-go.  After two miles, I noticed he appeared drunkenish, weaving, staggering a bit, glazey-eyed.  Our pace was midlin-turtle already, and I knew I had to make him walk.

Except that only a fool would tell Eric to stop mid-effort.  I did that once, during the Hotter than Hell Hundred bicycle race in Wichita Falls in 2008.  Eric succumbed to dehydration (related to a stomach constriction that he later had corrected), and he lurched around at a rest stop.  He caught the eye of an on-site physician, and, with my assistance, the doctor wrangled Eric under the tent for an examination.  Fifteen minutes later he released Eric, and I helped Eric finish the race, which was a first in our athletic partnership, believe me.  Normally I am the parasite, and Eric is the strong, healthy carrier.

I had not used my powers since, although I know — I know well — that Eric hates to stop, feels exercise is critical to his physical health, and uses it to salve his mental health when stress mounts.  And stress had mounted.  A whole heap of it.  The weight of all of it was crushing his usually ebullient spirit.

So, how to get him to stop without making a bad situation explosive?

I slowed to a walk and made a dramatic show of scratching mosquito bites.  Eric slowed with me.

“Are you ready to restart?” he asked, in a spot-on imitation of Johnny Depp a la Pirates of the Caribbean.

“Wellllllll….my feet really hurt.  I’ve been off for five weeks, and this distance is too much for them.  Gotta be smart, build them back up.  I’ll have to walk.”

When in doubt, blame it on the plantar fasciitis. Hopefully the darkness broken only by widely-spaced bayou path streetlights was heavy enough to hide the lie on my face.

Without a word he fell in beside me, holding my hand and unable to talk further.  He stumbled along.  We took a short cut home.  Fifteen minutes later he was no better, so he took his blood pressure.  It read 50% higher than normal, and it’s borderline already.  It was scary high.

I put him in bed with a cold cloth on his forehead, and I snuggled in beside him.  I stroked his face while I considered forcing him to the emergency room.  Eric admitted that his jaw hurt worse, and that his sinuses now hurt (the infection had eaten a hole in his jaw, per the x-rays, and was marching on to his sinus cavities).  We compromised.  If his blood pressure came down significantly in half an hour, he’d instead contact his endodontist for a different antibiotic, let him know of the worsening situation, and enlist his help in moving the oral surgery sooner.  His pressure came down, just enough.

The next morning Eric said he felt passable. He promised to call the endodontist first thing.

I knew he wouldn’t.

Meanwhile I contacted his primary care physician, none other than my father.  Dr. Dad suggested, in strong terms, that I make it clear to the oral surgeon that the time had come to do something.

I pinged Eric.

“Too busy,” he said, snappish.

“Give me the number.”

“Don’t have it.”

“Give me the name.”

He complied.  Along with a list of days he couldn’t go.  Then he caved.  “I’ll go today if they can get me in.”

I love him.  I understand him.  I was scared, too.

The endodontist’s office responded with amazing assistance despite my fear that they would dismiss “the hysterical wife.”  Maybe the tremor in my voice as I explained my fears about  his general health  helped secure their help.  The wonderful Tracy with Dr. Ott’s office put me on hold while she raised the oral surgeon to let her know that it was an emergency.  Tracy was back with me in two minutes.  They’d moved the procedure up to four days later.  Progress.

“Hold please, it’s the surgeon again,” she said, interrupting my gushing thank you’s.

I held for mere seconds.

“Can he go right now?  They looked at his films, and the surgeon is clearing her schedule for him.  But he has to go now.”

“I’ll get him there.”  I left out the”if I have to drag his bloody carcass behind me on a travois” part, but it was implied.

Read the rest of the story in Peace Out, Part 2.

Peace out for now —


p.s. There is a tiny place in me that has to wonder’s if Eric’s health drama was just his shameless attempt to draw notice away from Petey the attention-hogging hound? Nahhhhhh.


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33 Responses to Peace out. Part 1.

  1. I didn’t realize how dangerous an abscessed tooth could be until I read this. Interestingly enough, my 6-year-old ADHD/ODD son had to have dental surgery yesterday to remove an abscessed tooth. Because of his ADHD and the amount of work that needed to be done, he had to have a general anaesthetic. Surgery was yesterday and he was running around like a madman today. Hope your husband has recovered as well.

    • Pamela says:

      We didn’t know either before it happened. Then everyone wanted to tell us about all the people they knew who’d died fromit! I’m glad your son recovered so well. Thanks for visiting :)

  2. Pamela, I’m so glad to hear that you are being persistent with this. I had no idea teeth infections were dangerous! I actually have a bad tooth that’s getting worse. I’m going to take action soon. I’m a procrastinator and I usually end up regretting it. This time I’ll get to the dentist before I have regrets.
    And Petey? Still love him! How can you not love that soulful face?

    Eric…hope you’re feeling better really soon!

  3. Molly says:

    Nice cone, Eric! This is the BEST picture of you, EVER!!! Hope you are feeling better!

  4. Ann says:

    A paramedic told me that the first sign of a heartattack is denial. It is really hard to make someone understand when they are in trouble no matter what it is. I am so glad that you were able to get in him for the surgery. You must have been terrified.

  5. Ally says:

    This whole situation is scaring me just to read about it! I, too, am so glad you got a hold of the oral surgeon. (And that she had the good sense to know it would be on her shoulders if he got worse and she hadn’t worked him in.) I hope that Peace Out, Part 2 has some relief in it!

  6. Ash says:

    Praying all goes well. Though I’m certain it will because you’re a good naggy wife 😉 – XO

  7. oh
    the ‘cone of shame’…..
    priceless picture…

  8. Sandy says:

    I didn’t realize the infection had gotten that bad! Yes, I was one of those who told you of someone I knew who died from a tooth infection. It is serious business and obviously the surgeon realized that….thankfully. Glad Eric is on the mend.

    • Pamela says:

      It’s really scary. Apparently it had gone on so long it was horrific from the jump and had the surgeon seen it, there would have been no delay. I’ll post something later Dr. Dad sent me about it.

  9. Peter (Dr. Dad) says:

    On Oct 24, 2011, at 8:26 AM, wrote:

    Just a little medical aside. NO antibiotic will “help’ with an abscess. An abscess is a closed space in your tissues filled with pus and invading bacteria. Blood does not flow into an abscess. Antibiotics (or any medication) is carried in your blood and only works if the medicine can get to the bacteria. An abscess has to be drained (or the “pus” which is white cells might kill the bacteria as the body’s defense). In Eric’s case it was obvious his natural defenses were not working well enough and the only remedy left was to drain and clean out the abscess- then antibiotics (appropriate for the type of bacteria) would “work”.

  10. Lisa Hallett via Facebook says:

    I really enjoy reading the things you post. Very inspiring & give me a lot to think about. Thank you!

  11. Ah, Lisa, thank you so much. It’s my personal therapy :) Putting my feelings (about literally anything and everything) keeps me right side up.

  12. Eric Hutchins says:

    I am grateful for your persistence!

    Its funny looking back on things that there were certainly signs that this was becoming a real problem but, it was gradual and its easy to normalize things.

    I have course have had a sneak peak of this whole blog and I hope everyone stays with it and reads part II because it is such a wonderful message and it is of course about a lot more than rotten teeth. :)

    • Pamela says:

      Yes, that is kind of the minor point.
      And I am glad as you get further from this you are less resistant to looking at it for what it was.

  13. MEN! Alpha Hubby is exactly the same. “I’m fine,” he’ll exclaim, “it’s just a scratch” while blood is welling up and pouring down his hand, and bone is showing through a 2″ bone deep cut. “Oh, it’s nothing,” he’ll growl, “just a little ache” as a broken bone is poking out of a leg. “Oh quit worrying,” he state, “I’m sure it will go back together just fine with a butterfly bandaid” as his arm dangles by a thread. Sure, maybe some of this is a poetic license take on 17 years of injuries, but still… ! That first one is true. MAN-PERSONS, all! I am so so so glad you persisted and he is fine. Phew. Eric, we love you. You must make plans to stick around. God gave women/mothers an ingrained “knowing” when something isn’t right – LISTEN. We want to you be around for a long, long time.

  14. I think God gives us some kind of sonar to know when to press these men and kids. I agree with Nan! And, I am totally impressed that you can run beyond snail-pace. I power-walk but not quite powerful enough!

    • Pamela says:

      Yes, sonar is a good way to think of it. And I am so thankful God gives it to us, because the sufferer’s senses seem completely non-functioning about that time.

      I want Eric to be around and a long long time :)

  15. Lassa says:

    The damage to your whole body from bad teeth is amazing and scary. I read that flossing reduces your chance of a heart attack long term!

  16. […] Eric has a jaw partially packed with bovine bone and he has several implant/grafting procedures left to go, due to ignoring an abscess.  Oh, and I can’t leave out the accompanying terrifying heart infection. DO.NOT.IGNORE.TOOTH.PAIN.  […]

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