Saturday, November 29, 2014

Never pray for empathy

I don't want to sound proud but I will just say that I have always taken pretty good care of my teeth.  It kind of goes along with my profession.  In the last 30 years I have had only one cavity.  I always try to be empathetic to my patients when they suffer with dental problems.  I really do care.  But to be honest I haven't had a lot of tooth problems myself so my caring about their problems doesn't come from personal experience but rather just because I love my patients.  Well, I guess that is changing.  This dumb cancer is bringing me more experiences.

My mouth is suffering the after effects of massive radiation exposure.  They told me that after 33 rounds of head and neck radiation that I had here I had my "life time maximum".  Unfortunately, as things turned out, we had to have more radiation at Mayo to save my life.  The second time around was an quite a bit more radiation than what I had received during the 33 rounds.  So, now I am like three times my life time maximum. I pretty much glow in the dark.

 I have been having more pain so my sweet wife suggested that maybe I had tooth problems.  I hadn't even thought of that since I don't ever really have tooth problems.  Knowing that she is almost always inspired I went to my office and took some x-rays.  Sure enough, my two bottom right molars had abscesses and I probably have three abscesses on the top right.  No cavities, just dead teeth.  I think that they just gave up and died from so much radiation.  Much of the bone around the teeth is also gone.  All I can say is "Darn it all!"  Honestly I would swear if I thought it would help.

I called my dear friend, Daniel Burr.  He is an endodontist and he was so kind to get me right in at his office.  The question is, how do you do a root canal treatment when you can only get your mouth open 1/2 inch?  Well, I don't know how Daniel did it, he is a magician, but he got in there and cleaned the bottom two out and medicated them.  When we have some more time we will do the top ones.  For all my patients who have had root canal treatments in the past I guess I can now join your club.  One way or another, God is going to shape me into something better I guess.  Right now He is teaching me empathy.

Other than dental adventures and dealing with some pain I am doing okay.  We are still anxious for January to arrive.  I'm getting used to taking most of my nutrition through my stomach tube.  It's a relief to not have to get everything by mouth.  JoLynne is so kind and patient.  She is always concerned about me and trying to do whatever she can to make me comfortable and healthy.  The other night I was hurting and waiting for medications to kick in.  JoLynne sat there for probably 30 minutes rubbing my feet trying to take away my pain.  She is truly angelic.  I am blessed more than I can say.

My brother in law passed away just recently.  It was such an sudden thing.  During the few months that he was ill we prayed our hearts out for him.  I can't remember a time that I have ever prayed that hard for anything.  If prayers and tears alone could heal you he would have been healed many times over.  Only God knows the whole plan.  I don't pretend to.  It was hard to see him go.  My sister Marie is a strong, faithful woman.  She will be okay but it will be lonely for her until they are together again.  How grateful I am to know, without a shadow of doubt, that death is not the end.  I can't understand how people deal with this who lack that knowledge.  I know that I will see Randy again one day, I have no doubt.  I look forward to that day.


  1. I am sorry you are having tooth troubles. Thank goodness for Dr Burr and his root canal skills! I hope you feel better soon. I heard about Randy- my condolences to you and your family.

  2. I'm so sorry you're still dealing with so much pain. You continue to be in our prayers at the Bartholomew home.

  3. I don't pray for empathy. ... But I DO pray for Eric Vogel every day--every time I get a chance.

  4. I read this at night then had a funny dream that there were 2 patients at your desk -- myself and a very dramatic man who wanted your help right then. There was a lot of drama and innuendo on his part that he'd been through "so much" and wanted you to fix him right then. I was willing to let him have my appointment and any future ones that were scheduled when I had the thought that I should ask him what happened. He very dramatically said he had bumped his mouth and had a broken tooth. You looked at me with all my gaps and root canals and gave the best, most knowing look to me and simply smiled at him and said that somehow we'd make it all work out. Your empathy was perfect.
    (Mark and I are fasting for you today and will every week if need be and I think there are many many others who would be willing to do the same. Sacrifice beings forth the blessings of Heaven.)

  5. That last few lines are so beautiful. The knowledge we will see Uncle Randy again helps my heart heal a little more without him. I'm so sorry you have to go through this trial, dear uncle. I love you with all my heart and pray very hard for you and your family. Much love to you all. - Candace