When a Cavity Can Be Lethal

January 19, 2017

Yesterday I had a cavity filled. I was nervous about it, since it was my very first cavity in my 34 years on his planet. I read up on filling cavities and Addison’s disease considerations. I decided to take an extra 5mg of hydrocortisone, and told my husband my plan. I thought I had things under control. 

The dentist froze me and left to let the freezing set. I stared to feel strange: confused, dizzy, nauseous. My heart started beating quickly and I stared trembling. I was going to have a seizure, I could feel it. I concentrated on breathing slowly. In and out, just stay calm and wait for someone to get to me. Breathe, don’t give in to what your muscles want to do. Breath. In and out. Plan. What will you do when they come in. Ambulance? Breathe. Slowly. Don’t give in. Don’t get scared. In and out. In and out. 

The hygienist and dentist came back. I tried to explain. “Something’s wrong” I said. That’s what I always say when I need help. I can’t articulate what the problem is exactly, but something is wrong. “I need my pills”. I tapped my Fitbit and showed them my heart rate – 140bpm. Something’s wrong. They got my pills and I took one, they gave me oxygen. My heart rate went down and my muscles started listening. “Call my husband”. Down to 120bpm. I took another pill. At that point it seemed better than going to the hospital and getting 100mg solu-cortef in an iv. Heart rate down more, getting coherent. Kept the oxygen on, to be honest, I absolutely love getting oxygen. It makes everything seem so much easier. Each breath feels like the equivalent of 10 regular breaths. I’ll take oxygen anytime it’s offered. 


By the time my husband got there I was okay. His reaction really disappointed me though. He didn’t say much, but I felt like he blamed my nerves. I felt like what happened was my fault. I felt like he failed me as an advocate. I said I wanted to take another pill and he said I shouldn’t. I felt like a wimp. 

Since I was stabilized and was already frozen and had already used up so much time, I asked them to carry on with the filling. He drove me home afterwards and I felt like a failure. 

Later that morning I learned that epinephrine in dental freezing can lead to Addison’s Crisis. I had once again come dangerously close to crisis and came out on top.

That afternoon I became suddenly weak and fell down the entire flight of stairs to my basement, dislocating my shoulder in the process. But that story, and that crisis averted, is for another day. 

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