Health Barometer

Today I found out that my teeth are just fine. If you don't know me well, this might not be big news, but it's pretty much completely amazing. I have bruxism (inherited nightly gnashing of teeth) and over the years I've reduced my poor teeth to rubble. It's not a thing I have any control over, so I wear a big clunky nightguard and prioritize dental care in my budget.

There's not really much original material left to work with, but I have a very patient and wonderful dentist, who slowly pieced my mouth back together with the help of two assistants. It took many, many visits to get my mouth in order so that I could be away for a long time without access to dental care. None of us were all that hopeful that I'd be successful.

It took months of travel to detox from an off-the-charts level of stress gathered over years of working in a fast-paced, deadline driven, bottom line focused corporate environment, the long overdue end of an unhealthy long-term romantic relationship, homeownership, crushing debt and navigating complicated personal relationships. A good night of sleep meant 4 hours of tossing and turning. I recently saw a photo of myself from day two of my trip and it was simply shocking. I look like a husk of a human being, my eyes sunken, dark circles reaching far down into my cheeks, grey skin, and a bloated, exhausted body. I knew I was sick, but seeing that photograph, taken by someone I love, rocked me. 

Today, I got a clean bill of health on my teeth. I'm overdue for a cleaning, but other than that, the 45-minute appointment was completely unneeded. This too is shocking. Never in all of these years have I been able to waltz in and out of that office. I practically had a memorial chair in the waiting room.

Now that I've been home for a few months I'm starting to lose some perspective on how different things were for me before, and how large the impact of my choice to quit my life truly was. Seeing surprise and joy on the face of someone you like and respect, when they tell you that you look like a completely different person, is startling and grounding at once.

I'm doing okay. I made the right choice. Best of all, I'm carrying everything I learned with me into this new chapter of my life at home. I hope my dental insurance continues to be a completely unnecessary luxury; I'll happily pay that bill each month because now it reminds me of how truly lucky I am to have followed my heart.