47. O Tooth Fairy, Where Are You?

The tooth fairy clearly has her knickers in a twist. The saga of my tooth from the last blog trundles on and on; I was quite shocked to discover this whole saga has been going on for more than six weeks now, and it is causing me quite a lot of consternation – and not just because of the pain. As a post-transplant patient my immune system is still very immature; in June I will have to have all my childhood vaccines again (that is causing some consternation too), but until I reach the one-year anniversary I am at risk from procedures that normal folk would cope with quite easily. One of these is a root canal filling. Nobody wants one of these, but it became obvious as soon as I hit the dentist’s chair that there was no other option. My first visit back after the holiday resulted in even stronger antibiotics than I was given on the ship – my mouth was so swollen again there was no way he could do anything at the time. Metronidazole has a fearsome reputation; it is also used to discourage alcoholics from taking a wee dram as it provokes violent sickness at the merest sniff of the amber nectar. With the aid of live sheep’s yoghurt I managed to keep my stomach intact during the week-long course, but the infection didn’t go away. My next visit to the dentist was the deciding factor – he didn’t want to give me any more antibiotics (which was great as I didn’t want them) but would go straight ahead and carry out the first part of the root canal treatment there and then. This would hopefully stop the pain as it involves killing then taking out the infected nerve then lots of yucky cleaning out. In another life there are two things I would not ever want to be: a teacher of small children or a dentist. It was actually a lot less painful than expected and I skipped away reasonably happily, thinking all would be well. Theoretically the discomfort would settle down and the dentist would be able to complete the procedure in a couple of weeks. If it didn’t calm down I would need an extraction and, due to the state of my immune system, more antibiotics. Even though I think antibiotics deplete the immune system. Can you see how it is getting a bit complicated? However, I do believe that things happen for a reason, and that when our plans are delayed, apart from giving the gods the chance to have a jolly good laugh, it also gives us the opportunity to re-examine our choices. More of that in a moment.

The pain and swelling didn’t go away, with the result that the whole right side of my face and throat became unbelievably sore. This is the same side of my face where I had the cancer, so you can imagine how well I was sleeping at night. This is exactly where mindfulness practice comes in, and I was really struggling not to give in to the fear – especially in the wee small hours – that it had all kicked off again. I called the lovely Lisa, my transplant co-ordinator – who arranged for me to have a blood test just to be sure. It turned out that my blood test was fine, good even, which helped a lot, but the message also came back that Joe didn’t want me to have any more antibiotics as I have had so many recently. OK. Something to bear in mind if I was going to have an extraction, which I would also have to run by Joe. I was reasonably happy with all this until I read someone on a cancer blog saying that her blood tests were excellent but that the cancer was running riot through her body and had only been discovered through a routine scan. Oh dear. How can I stop these fears taking root then sneaking up on me in unguarded moments? That is a work in progress, to be sure. I started to gargle with salt water as I read that the bacteria attaches itself to the salt particles and so gets taken out of the system, but I was in so much pain that I had to have an emergency appointment with another dentist on Thursday. Easter was looming and I couldn’t bear the thought of four more days before seeing somebody. This visit resulted in another cleanout of the cavity, which has helped a bit but I have also been slooshing with salt water like it is going out of fashion. I am assuming the tooth will have to come out, but I am back in again tomorrow to see what happens next.

I had calmed down a little bit over the weekend when I happened to read an article somebody posted on Facebook. The trouble with all the FB stuff is of course that you take in the words and images before any sense of censorship kicks in, although on this occasion I am sort of glad it just grabbed me as it did. This article was correlating a connection between root canal work and cancer. I was going to add a link here, but to be honest there are so many articles that if this subject interests you, just type ‘root canal and cancer’ into Google. If you aren’t interested I do apologise as almost all of this blog is about my teeth. I promise the next one won’t be. I was initially convinced that some form of pesticide was responsible for the mantle cell lymphoma, but now I am not so sure. What these articles were saying is that it is impossible to clean out dental cavities completely, so when the final part of the treatment, the permanent (probably Mercury) filling, goes on top it is locking in an awful lot of bugs. Equally, when a tooth is extracted, it is impossible to completely sterilise the resulting cavity. The bugs then morph into powerful bacteria which don’t need oxygen to survive, can’t be treated with antibiotics, and can freely move into the bones then join the blood supply for their guided tour of the body. That scenario can lead to a depressed immune system, which in turn can allow cancer to develop. So my instinct that the infection was moving into my bones wasn’t quite so far off the mark, given that I have had abscesses for over twenty years, on and off, and several root fillings as a result. In fact every time I am run down I get a sore throat and my teeth hurt on that side. So it is pretty obvious, in the light of my recent reading, that there is still infection in my jaw. A horrifying thought in the light of the last year’s fun and games.

The cogs have been very busily turning in my mind as I ponder what to do about this. The best solution would be to take a bulging bank account to a holistic dentist as of course these things don’t come cheap. Stephen and I have thought for a long time that we should have our Mercury fillings removed, but it is something that is a) a lot less attractive than a cruise and b) costs an awful lot more than a cruise. Being the hedonistic couple that we are, that particular line of treatment had slipped way down the list. But it does make sense, doesn’t it? Why would anyone want a mouthful of potentially toxic metal? I know of several people who have been miraculously cured of their ills once all the fillings were replaced. It is so hard, and so expensive, trying to struggle free from the shackles of Western/science-based treatment. Of course the conventional dentists say that the treatments they offer are perfectly safe, but where have we heard all that before?

And there is another side to it. I have been told I shouldn’t have any more antibiotics, yet I will need them if I have the tooth out as there is a very high risk of infection. But I already clearly have an infection which two lots of antibiotics haven’t sorted out, so where does that leave me, exactly? And how should I proceed? Have it out or not? Antibiotics or not? Aaaargh! In my pre-cancer existence I would have simply gargled and taken Echinacea and all that stuff until it all calmed down again, but now I’m not so sure… in fact I am really confused.

I’m off to do even more research….

Big hugs

Margaret xx


About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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9 Responses to 47. O Tooth Fairy, Where Are You?

  1. matrixdavis says:

    Oh dear Margaret, No wonder you were ‘distracted’. Let’s both get well soon and finish our project!

    Healing blessings.

    M xx


  2. Ellen Perchonock says:

    Margaret, Sent you 3 emails relating to the tooth problem, but I don’t ever post on websites or blogs. My emails apparently didn’t get through to you. Included info about Dr Hal Huggins, holistic dentist, transcript of one of his interviews at the Tooth Summit, and info about Living Libations essential oils which can help teeth & gums. Please send me a good email address and I will re-send these.
    Thanks, Ellen P., in Amsterdam


    • Hi Ellen, thank you for that. The emails will come through to me even though you get an error message. We are having problems with our mailbox just now. I did see the stuff by Dr Huggins when I was looking through earlier. Look forward to reading your emails x


  3. Iris Horsey says:

    As someone who has tooth problems I send you my sympathy but this is so complex. Let’s hope ellen may be useful….


  4. Sue J says:

    Hello Margaret,
    So sorry; how your difficulties (understatement!) go on and on. Two years-ish ago I had such devastating pain in a back tooth that I was amazed to find myself arms outstretched actually attempting to crawl up the wall!
    I experienced a horrifying side effect from a powerfully effective pain killer from the chemist. How I dealt with that is another story.
    My usual dentist was away and one of his associates said the tooth would have to be extracted.
    I wasn’t having that. My dentist can reach parts with his drill that other dentists can’t, so I waited for him. Meanwhile I gave up sugar (cakes , biscuits, alcohol etc) which aggravates my teeth, and I continually sucked high dosage Vitamin C tablets. THAT’S WHEN I REALISED THAT FOR ME, VITAMIN C WAS WORKING LIKE AN ANALGAESIC in that I could even feel a numbing sensation.
    By the time my dentist returned I was no longer in pain. He didn’t hold out much hope for the tooth’s longevity but he wielded his drill like a wand and more than two years on I still have that tooth.
    I know the ‘new’ research says you can have too much vitamin C, but long ago I read that if a body has too much C, the excess will be excreted in the urine, and if cancer is present, every cell in the body will be saturated with C before excretion of the Vitamin takes place. All those years ago then, I concluded that Vitamin C was of primary importance and that it was safe.
    But what’s my point? My point is that even if my informants and assumptions were wrong I have never in all these years experienced harm, only good, from an unrationed and unlimited amount of Vitamin C
    Sometimes I remembered the power of C and after some years of uninterrupted good health I ‘forgot ‘about it, then I remembered again. But throughout the years I would only curtail the use of high dosage C when the acid ‘burned’ the roof of my mouth. That didn’t happen very often and even then I would resume it’s consumption within a day or two when the skin had healed.
    Of course I don’t see Vitamin C alone, as the great cure-all, but I do see it as a powerful ally against dis-ease generally, and for me it has been remarkably effective not only for toothache but for coughs and headaches as well.
    I hope this helps
    Love Sue J xx PS. Judy tells me she has recently been reminded that eyes, teeth and ears share a nerve. I mention this just in case that fact proves as useful to you as it has to her,


  5. Joe Tomsic says:

    Hi Margaret. Kind of the same thing with me. After my bone marrow stem cell transplant at Duke for my mantle cell they had me remove all my gold bridge work and metal supported partial. No metal allowed period.


  6. Jenni says:

    With such discomfort in your mouth I know it won’t be easy Margaret, but you really should try chanting 10 minutes every day that your health will be fully restored and soon. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Suck it and see.
    Very best wishes as always, xxx


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