Been two months and two days since I had that major dental surgery with the VA in Columbia. To remember the story, the first follow up was suppose to a week after surgery, but the VA cancelled the appointment, without giving me any reason, nor did they re-set an appointment. In all this time, have not been able to reach anyone at the VA in Columbia or Greenville to get this straight. Until yesterday.
Drove to the VA Outpatient Clinic in Greenville. They do not have a manned desk when you go the dental clinic. They have a clipboard and a pen. So my intention was to leave my name, number, and briefly begged anyone to call me to resolve it.
To my surprise, there was a person now at that desk. First and only time since I started going there at the start of the year. He was well informed, and very helpful. Told him my story. First thing he said, this is not acceptable, and I am very sorry you are going through all this. I was shocked.
After taking some other info, he asked me politely to take a seat, and he would be back in a few minutes with some answers. Twenty minutes later (and after reading a car magazine), not only did he come back, but he had the Head Dental nurse in tow with him. She remembered me from way back in February, as she immediately said, "You are David, Mr. Radiation, right?". It actually made me laugh out loud.
I followed her back to her desk inside the clinic. She immediately got my surgeon in Columbia on the phone. No fuss, no delays. Moments later, she had all my records up on her PC screen, including all the surgical notes.
That was the good news part. The bad news, is instead of having to wait 3 to 4 months to have any dentures made and fitted, the surgeon decided based on the severity of the surgery and what he found inside my mouth, that he insists that it will be 6 full months until they even do the denture impressions (believe that is the correct word).
He said that the radiation damage was far worse, and that he had to remove even more bone growth than was first indicated, and whatever needed fixing in my lower left jaw (where it hinges) was very complex. He said that it turned out to be a very major oral surgery. Said I need the additional time for everything to heal fully, and he wants to make sure that all swelling is gone, or else he said there was no point of rushing the dentures, and that they would never fit or feel right otherwise. The dental nurse fully agreed with his opinion after looking at the screen shots, x-rays, and surgical notes. Said, I just need to be very patient, and this was for my best interests.
She then switched subjects to my weight loss and the additional problem of trying to get enough nutrition in me during those extra healing months. They immediately ordered a non-VA nutricianlist in my area, to assist me on the eating side of this. Just this afternoon, 24 hours later, that office called me and set an appointment to see them next week.
Scary part, had I not gone there in person (again), none of this would have happened on its own. I was apologized so many different ways, and they openly admit that the VA at the upper level stinks, and this should not have falling into the cracks.
Other good news, I do not have to make that 250 mile round trip for any of the future appointments on the dental stuff, they can do all of it at the Greenville office, which will save me a lot of stress and running around.
My next appointment is for April 1, 2015 (yes, April Fools Day), hopefully for the impressions. There was some concern for some upper gum pain I am experiencing, so they want me to call back in 2 weeks, and if its still going on, they will have me come immediately without an appointment to have one of the other dentists look at the gum in person. Once the impressions are done, she said it would still take a min. of one month, to have the dentures both made and fitted. So at the earliest, I will have to wait until early May before I have teeth again to eat "real food".
In a separate thread, I will update my latest oncologist visit (from yesterday as well), and how that will co-join and play out with the new VA doctor I will be seeing on the 22nd of this month. But that's a whole other story.
Feel great, in a sense, that at least back on track with the teeth issue.