face. And it's a lonely place to be. This blog is quite long, so if you make it through, thank you.
Some of you may already know this, but as a rule it doesn't effect me whilst I'm 'on a job' so it's not widely known. But I suffer, greatly, from toothache. Not a little pang that goes away after a sleep or a paracetamol but a pain that no painkillers I have ever been prescribed have ever touched. I've been on waiting list after waiting list for years now, the first big problems occurring when I was 18, I am now 26.
I need a lot of work doing, and what's more is I need to have it done under sedation. My anxiety for dental work is through the roof [in fact that's where I would rather be, than in the dentists chair], so dentists don't want to treat me any more than I want them to. I shake too much, they simply can't do what they need to. Unless they hold me down, which has happened in the past and is a big reason why I'm so freaked out about it now.
On the last count, a while ago now, I needed:
1 tooth restoration
That's half of your adult teeth... and I've already had 4 out so it's over that for me.
What's life like when you need that much work doing?
In a word 'painful'. Here's a little list of things I have to consider daily:
- For the past few years I have waited whilst food cools/warms to room temperature. Same with all drinks. Ice or hot coffee are out the question. If something slightly off temp hits the worst of my teeth, that's it. Bed time until the next day. My face will likely swell. It feels a lot like being kicked in the face.
- I have to remember to not talk much or breath through my mouth when air is cold, like in supermarkets or winter time generally. The cold air in my mouth will set off tooth ache, I will need to go to bed, a useless mess and stay there until the next day.
- I can only chew on the front left side of my face. I can't bite with my front teeth and if I use any of my other chewing tools food will undoubtedly enter a cavity will set off tooth ache, I will need to go to bed, a useless mess and stay there until the next day.
- My partner can't kiss me on my right side of my face, or any one else for that matter. Ouch.
- I can't do much in the way of exercise. Jumping, or running brings on toothache. I think this is to do with the infection of some sort. When I already have toothache, walking hurts. Every step feels like some one stabbing away at the inside of my skull.
- When you have this many black holes in your face smiling isn't something you much care to do in public or on shoots. Too many questions.
- You can't think straight. When toothache is 'that' bad, you just can't really do anything.
- Once tooth ache has come a few times, let alone after a few years, you start feeling a bit scared of it. You worry when it'll next happen. You worry where you will be and how you'll be able to help yourself. This can cause you to limit social interactions as well as work trips. I won't go away from home for more than 10 days now, where as before I'd happily tour for 3 weeks - 3 months. I simply can't risk that now.
- Where am I and how do I get home? Well, unless I'm working, I don't go out by myself any more. Not even to the supermarket. I was brought to my knees with pain whilst walking Major at the end of last year. It came out of no where, as it often does, and despite being only 5 minutes from home it was terrifying. I'm not the kind of girl that likes to lock herself away from the world, being scared of how far away I stray from the house is unbelievably upsetting.
- Overall, it's depressing. Mostly it doesn't get on top of me, but recently it has. Never knowing when they will see me to take a tooth out, not knowing when I'll be out of pain. It's saddening and it's scary. I am powerless. People don't understand why you don't immediately tuck into your food/drink. They don't understand why you might not want to go for that walk on a beautiful beach with the fresh sea breeze. It's lonely being in pain like this.
I really can't describe to you the pain. When one tooth 'kicks off' they all go. From 'buzzing' to 'on fire' to what feels like repeated kicks in the face.
Ok, I get it. How often does this happen?
Currently toothache is putting me in bed around 3 times a month on average. For a couple of days each time. Sometimes, usually if my partners off work, I might still seem chipper, or even answer emails on my phone. But it's never a happy time, an infection has led to so much pain I can't get out of bed. I'm loosing minimum a week a month to this.
So why is it taking so long?
Simply, NHS post code lottery and waiting lists. Due to me needing to be sedated for treatment, it limits dental centres and adds considerable time to the waiting list. As an example. I moved to Cornwall in October. I was placed on a waiting list for an NHS consultation locally for January. After that appointment I was referred for sedation, for which my consultation is in May. I will, after that appointment be placed on a waiting list for actual treatment. This is better than Lincolnshire who couldn't offer me treatment. So if we are generous, I'll have been waiting 6 months.
What can I do?
When the facial swelling is bad or the pain has had me in bed and in tears [not something pain brings on easily these days but it happens], I can get some antibiotics. When I am on these I can't drive, or do much. They make me feel very confused and if I'm alone I can get quite scared. But it's better than the fear of the pain never going away. I'm sure I don't have to let you know the reasons why antibiotics aren't amazing for you, but I'm on a course or so monthly, depending how bad things get.
- I've cut sugar, including fructose, from my diet. I do have 'treats' else I'd go crazy but I'm very careful. I don't eat much processed food etc. I likely consume less sugars than you do on average.
- I've cut my smoking by about half, and will continue to do so until I turn into an 'ex smoker'
- I've kept up with dental appointments.
In short, I can wait or I can go private.
So why not go private?
Ever watched TV and heard some Americans bemoaning their insurance for health care? That's cause it's so damn expensive to go private and the same applies over here. Just a consultation at a private dentists will set you back at least £100 [that's the cheapest I've found nationally on google]. Most places you are looking at £1000 PER IMPLANT, and that's not including being under general anaesthetic or sedation...
Why write this?Firstly, so you know. You know why I'm not on long tours, you know why I won't do smiley stock photography, you know why I don't immediately devour that meal you cooked after we've worked all day, you know I excuse myself and go to bed early when you're hosting me.
I've also met a lot of people that haven't had so much as a filling, or if they have nothing more! And in fact, the requirement shocked them due to a lack of pain. Please don't underestimate toothache just because you don't/haven't suffered. These things are different for us all and I've been told to 'suck it up' a couple of times, it's not helpful. It doesn't take the pain away.
Secondly, I am hoping you might be able to help me.
How can you help?
I would like, in an ideal world, to do 1 - 4 shoots a month, totally dedicated to funding both my NHS work and possibly private work. Whilst the NHS can remove teeth, I'm running out of them rapidly and I need to look into investing in dentures, implant retained dentures or implants. And yes the NHS do dentures, but cost wise, I'm a way away from that. Sedation treatment isn't under your usual NHS brackets, it costs more. I want to try and speed things up a little, before I am totally bound to home and can't tour at all.
I've got 3 options:
One - You could book me. All you need to do is decide when, how long for and where, then pop it in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org under a title tooth related. I won't count your booking in my monthly budget of what I need to earn to stay alive, meaning 100% of it can be saved to help.
I have a range of tours/studio days etc planned already or I am happy to create a tour around your booking if you are a way away. I am still travelling all over the UK, so don't be shy about distance.
If you want to work with me on location then the best bet is to book one of my tours, I'm not really taking on much location work [to minimise risk of tooth ache mid tour a long way from home]. I'm running tours in:
Wiltshire - MAY
Lincolnshire - JUNE
Dartmoor - JULY
Lake District - SEPT
Cornwall - OCT
Two - You can buy an A4 print, any of my self portraits for £25. Simply email me a link to the image you would like to email@example.com. I have posted them at the bottom of my blog.
Three - As is made clear in the past options I am not asking for handouts, however, I few people have voiced their want to help without expecting shoot time etc in return. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to part with £1 or more to help get my day to day and shoot life back on track.
THANK YOU FOR READING.