Not Quite Half Full

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth." 
- Janeane Garofalo 
"The tongue is ever turning to the aching tooth." - Benjamin Franklin

Last night, I chipped a tooth. And for reasons that I am trying to fathom, it has totally sent me for an emotional loop.

I have personally known three people in the last year who have chipped their teeth. These people were all a generation ahead of me, ergo, their teeth had seen much more wear and tear than mine. I could tell it affected them, and I empathized with the annoyance that having a sharp something in your mouth must be. But I figured it was only natural that eventually, this happens to teeth (especially those continually exposed to our refined Western diet, even in limited quantities). And I knew their inconvenience would only last until they could get to a dentist.

But now that it is my mouth, and my tooth, why can't I be as rational? Why am I so upset about it?

I have never had any problems with my teeth before. Blessed with good genetics and good nutrition early in life, I have never had a cavity, and the worst problem I occasionally endure is teething because my wisdom teeth have not fully emerged. (I was teething wisdom teeth while Jabin was teething his one-year molars--believe me, though the pain made me grumpy, I had loads of empathy for the little guy. I think he handled it better than I did.) They are also slightly out of alignment with the rest of my teeth, so I try to be extra-careful that food does not get caught in them. However, I recognize that someday I may have to have them removed.

But this is different, maybe because it was so unexpected. I think that, deep down, I believe it shouldn't have chipped. That's part of it. I wasn't eating anything hard, only pizza. Homemade, "healthful pizza", at that. For crying out loud, I ground the flour myself! Which means that my tooth (and probably more than one) must have some structural integrity issues. Which means I need to change.

I guess I had believed that the healthier-than-the-average-bear diet that I try to follow would help me keep my teeth to a ripe old age, undamaged. The link between teeth and internal health (especially your heart) is fairly well-known, and I wanted to believe that I was doing all I could to keep myself healthy, without having to go to extremes.

But now, I'm not so sure. And am I doing all I can for my children? I don't know. Jabin's lower jaw, which I once thought had plenty of room to fill up, is starting to look a little crowded...

One chipped tooth has filled me with self-doubt. Ridiculous, I know. But just like my tongue cannot stop worrying at the broken remains (and, in all honesty, most of the tooth remains--it was a tiny piece that came off, only a flake), my mind cannot stop worrying that maybe I need to make more dramatic changes to my lifestyle and diet. And I don't want to. I have done "dramatic" for short periods, and it is a serious pain in the arse, for reasons mostly having to do with the convenience of both myself and friends that may ever want to entertain our family. Mostly me, though. Can't what I do now just be enough? the petulant three-year-old in the back of my mind whines.

The final straw is that, after a summer that has been especially rough on our emergency fund, I know that there is nothing I will be able to do to change it right away. There is no trip to the dentist's chair in my immediate future for a "Band-aid fix." Only twenty-four hours later, and the tip of my tongue is already raw. How long until it is worn flat by use? And is the rest of the tooth about to crumble?

I know I'm making too big a deal out of it. And I'm really trying to get a grip. But this is my blog--it's where I get to vent (within limits, I realize). And I guess I was hoping that typing this out would help me "get over it."

One of those others who chipped their tooth recently claimed that this has been "the summer of her discontent." I'm beginning to feel the same. Not really--for the most part, I am not discontent. And when I think of Job, that amazing man who lived so many thousands of years ago, and lost so much, including his livelihood and children within only a few days, and still blessed the name of the Lord, I think that I must still have a long way to grow. When he also lost his health in a severe and painful way (body covered by painful boils), he finally started to question God.

It would definitely take a lot more than a major move, a few gardening setbacks, and a chipped tooth to make me question the God who is my Rock--but apparently, that is enough to make me question myself.

All I can say is, whatever it is I am supposed to be learning this summer? I wish I would just get it over with!

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  1. I'm sorry! I hope you are feeling a bit better. Anna May chipped a tooth awhile back (accident with concrete basement). I took her to the dentist to have it smoothed so that it would not make her bleed. I don't remember what it cost but I don't think it was much. It was an incredibly simple procedure. Enjoy your autumn. Allison

  2. Oh, poor girl! Thanks for the tip that it doesn't cost much to smooth it. I may just give them a call tomorrow to find out about that.

    Isn't it wonderful that we are actually getting a "fall" this year? Love it! Hugs, you.

  3. Hey Girl, it isn't necessarily your diet.....stuff just happens sometimes. Maybe you ground your teeth while sleeping, or, or.... I'm guessing the fix won't be prohibitively expensive. Check it out. Love you lots!

  4. Mom - Thank you for that encouragement. I DO grind my teeth, as a matter of fact. My voice teacher's main goal in college was trying to get me to loosen my jaw muscles, which is where I keep tension (apparently.) So... maybe you're right.


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