The Loss of Innocence

3 Apr

Someone once told me, “The primary job of every parent is to protect the innocence of their children. Once a child loses their innocence, they can never get it back.”

I have thought of that statement many times since that moment she said this to me. I believe I was a very innocent, even naïve child. My first instinct was to trust people. I had no reason not to. For many of us, there is a gradual, or sometimes a traumatic loss of innocence. My belief that other people were kind and good fell away to the realization that people can be cruel and mean. Anyone who has ever felt different or outside the dominant group, whether it be for physical differences, mental, social or religious differences, knows that this loss of innocence can be painful and sad.

This week, I learned that one of my aunts had died. It was not unexpected. She wasn’t someone I was close to, but still, to this day, I hold on to my child-like view and opinion of her. I thought she was beautiful, with a movie-star like quality. The way she looked, walked, talked and carried herself was, to me, very glamorous and mysterious. I saw her last year for the first time in many, many years, and though I would have never recognized her by the way she looked, she still had the same voice and it evoked that child-like awe of her movie-star quality. She was like Ginger on Gilligan’s Island.

I might be the only person in the universe who thinks this about her. I have never, as an adult, heard one single nice thing about her. I have struggled to reconcile my childhood view of her with the things I learned about her as an adult. When I was a child I had no idea that she was such a disagreeable person, but apparently there are many stories out there to support these stated claims about her. I learned some new ones this week, including that her own husband, my uncle, called her “That Woman” and never used her name when he talked about her. I know he cared about her, though. No one chooses to live with someone for 40 years without having some shred of love or care for that person. So, I called up Uncle to express my condolences. To me, she was still my movie-star-like aunt, a child-like perception that I could never get rid of, even though I knew now she wasn’t ALL THAT.

“Uncle, I’m sorry to hear about Aunt T.W.’s passing.” (T.W. is short for “That Woman.”)

“Well, these things happen when you go to the hospital. You live longer if you stay at home. They kill you at the hospital. Or refer you to someone else.”

“I’m sorry I won’t be able to come to the funeral tomorrow. I have to go to the dentist in the morning to get a tooth pulled.”

“Oh. Is it loose?”

“Yes, loose and cracked.” (All you XLH’ers know what I’m talking about, I’m sure!)

“I pull my own teeth. The dentist will just take your money if you let them do it.”

“Do you use pliers?”

“No, I use my fingers. Last year I pulled out 4 loose ones, including a jaw tooth. What you do is work it a little bit, twisting and pulling. Then you might have to stop for a day or two, because it’s gonna hurt. Then, work on it some more and eventually, you can pull it out yourself. You do have to twist and pull on it to get it out. It may take a few days.”

“I think I’ll get my dentist to do it.”

“Well, you’ll need to rinse out your mouth about 3 times a day with warm salt water afterwards. The dentist won’t tell you THAT, because he’s going to want to give you some pills. But the warm salt water is all you need. About 3 times a day for a few days.”

“Okay. I’ll keep that in mind. And I’ll be thinking about you when I’m at the dentist tomorrow.”

“Okay, bye.”

“Uh, bye!”

I have to say, it was the most bizarre condolence conversation I’ve ever had. But he’s not one to express a lot of emotions, and so I think he was just being kind, recommending what I would need to do after the extraction. He’s done this kind of thing before. Last year, I saw Uncle and Aunt T. W. when I was on the way to the beach and he gave me a very stern warning to wear a hat and long sleeves or the sun would ruin my skin. He showed me his arms as proof of what damage the sun can do. Though he’s never had children, he told me all this in a very fatherly sort of way and with not very many teeth in his head. I’ve always liked him. He is definitely his own person and doesn’t care what others think of him. Missing teeth, disagreeable wife, and all.

This morning, as I was getting ready to go to the dentist, I realized that the loss of innocence can cause a lot of anxiety. There was a time when I did not know what it was like to have to go to the dentist so much, but now I dread it. And I don’t really know why. I have a great dentist who can shoot Novocain in gums and jaws and cheeks better than anybody in the world, I am sure. He just says I’m very tough, but I tell him that he is THE BEST. The anxiety about the extraction was way worse than the actual extraction itself. I think it’s because I have had some very painful dentistry experiences, none of which Dr. Tooth was a part of. So, I get anxious. It only takes one or two bad experiences to lose that Pollyanna view of things. I told him about my uncle’s self-extractions. Dr. Tooth was quite amused. The visit went quite well. He pulled the tooth out in one piece and said that I must have brought my lucky rabbit’s foot with me today, since it did not break in pieces. He handed me the tooth, after cleaning it, and suggested that I put it under my pillow for the Tooth Fairy. (Okay, losing my innocence about the Tooth Fairy was not painful and sad. I have no residual damage from finding out the truth about that.) I told him that I was sure that the amount the Tooth Fairy would leave would not cover my bill.

Now, I’m at home, with a mouth full of gauze pads. And, if you made it to the end of this post, then I will reward you with a photograph of my extracted tooth. Dr. Tooth derived great pleasure in pointing out the internal resorption, the cracks, and the bone loss, and he affirmed our decision to remove it now. I’m pretty sure the silver filling in it won’t pay for his bill, either.

Extracted Tooth

Photo of today’s extracted tooth. Good example of internal resorption, according to Dr. Tooth. Good example of why I must continue to work for a living, according to me.

Copyright 2013-2018, Banjogrrldiaries and S.G. Hunter

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8 Responses to “The Loss of Innocence”

  1. DeAnne H. April 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Your uncle & my husbands grandmother probably had the same thought process. His dad sliced a good portion of his finger off when he was a kid & mother took him in the house, rinsed the nub with Lysol, stuck it back on and wrapped it up! No need to go to the doc…costs money! He had a strange looking finger but it took! Also, being an XLH’r I’ve had a few teeth pulled too (& numerous root canals) but the most recent was my back molar and THIS dentist wouldn’t let me keep it! 😦 Something about “health safety” reasons. Ummm…I would think I should be able to keep my own tooth! Heck! Toss it in some Lysol!

    • banjogrrldiaries April 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      You should be able to keep your own tooth! That’s crazy…what kind of health hazard would a pulled tooth pose??? Unless, of course, you have a beagle like mine, who would eat it…

  2. Kelli Thomas April 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    I’m sorry about your Aunt! Funny thing is I had to have the dentist pull my tooth today also. To much bone loss to save it! It was already crowned too! I will now go to a partial and he says that he hopes it is not progressing to the other teeth! I have had terrible experiences with Dentist when I was little also so I understand your fears. But I must disagree with who is the Best Dentist because mine is wonderful like yours! LOL! Us XLHers have so many bad teeth!

    • banjogrrldiaries April 3, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Ooo…I’ve never had to have a crowned tooth pulled, knock on wood! I hope you’re doing okay! Glad you have a great dentist! Thanks for reading.

  3. HeatherS April 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Hello, there! Just joining in on the conversation. I, too, just went to the dentist today to get a crown re-cemented on. (hoping it survives a little longer). I also have XLH and have horrendous teeth. Hopefully holding on to them as long as I can….Never knew when I was younger that was why my teeth were so bad, easy to cavity, etc. On another note, I have been enjoying reading your posts and finding your page. I am 39 years old and just started to see endocrinologist for XLH. Saw Dr as a kid, then that stopped….fast forward 30 years and here we are. Thanks for sharing your life. I just stumbled onto your blog by accident, and I am glad I did.

    • banjogrrldiaries April 4, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading my blog! It’s nice to “meet” other XLH-ers who understand the challenges we face. Take care!

  4. mudtherapist August 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    your uncle’s response to your condolences gave me great chuckles just now! And how truly sweet, that he is more focused on giving you loving advice about your teeth than his own grief!

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