The topic of this post is something on my sort of imaginary (because I’ve never written it down) list of silly things I think about because I’m a former Christian Scientist, and it is something I’ve written on before. I recently had an appointment with a new dentist I recently switched to. As with any such appointment with a new care provider, there are the usual questions about allergies, medications, and any family medical history to be aware of. Proudly, I listed the three medications I do take (all related to asthma and allergies). Now, most people wouldn’t think anything of this sort of thing, but for me, it’s still a bit of a big deal to be a ‘normal’ person who sometimes does take prescription medications, or who is at least open to the idea.

dentistThen came the question that usually comes with every visit: “Is there anything unusual or that concerns you that we should be aware of?” Now, when I was a Christian Scientist, I did visit the dentist regularly–this is an odd exception to the general rule in Christian Science ‘culture’ of not partaking of anything medical. When I was still in Christian Science, I would usually downplay or even decline to mention anything out of the ordinary, even if there was something. Now, I don’t hesitate to mention things, and the only struggle I have is to try to accurately describe what I’m concerned about (somehow just saying something feels ‘weird’ comes off as sounding stupid to me). At this appointment, I mentioned a recently crowned tooth that I had recently, but not currently, experienced some odd sensations, so they did x-ray it and examined it carefully, finding nothing, and since the sensation I had experienced was mild, and had abated, they felt it was probably some minor irritation from food or plaque. Nonetheless, the concern is noted, and the tooth will receive scrutiny next time.

Something else that dentists commonly do nowadays is to screen for oral cancer. I first recall this becoming the norm around 15 years ago, and when I was still in Christian Science, I always felt uncomfortable with this examination, and I recall at one time asking that they not perform this examination. Now, I welcome it, and this new dentist utilizes some new technology recently developed at a large university here in Canada, that enhances the screening process far beyond what the visual examination most dentists use is capable of. My dentist also pointed out the risk factors for oral cancer which, for me, are quite low. Most oral cancers are related to lifestyle choices. Since I don’t use tobacco, my risk is quite low. However, now I’m grateful that expert eyes are looking out for me every six months, and if there is anything to worry about, it will be caught early enough for successful, and much more minimally traumatic treatment.

As I drove away from my appointment, it really did hit me how I used to downplay or ignore symptoms that I should have been concerned about. Fortunately, I skated by without serious consequences, but many others aren’t so lucky; and as I’ve written in previous posts, neither would I over the past few years, as I have had some serious health issues arise that have been successfully treated thanks to my new-found willingness to not downplay symptoms or concerns. It’s been a gradual process for me to become more observant of my body, and more willing to answer that question, “Is there anything we should be aware of?” I’ve definitely had a few lessons on this, and am much less afraid to answer honestly.


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*It should be noted that the author of this blog is an editor/writer for ‘The Ex-Christian Scientist’.

3 thoughts on “Downplaying…

  1. Wow! I didn’t know about oral cancer testing. I go to my new dentist in about a week also! I will ask about that! And I will joyfully tell her also that I am on over the counter allergy medicine. 🙂

    And eye doctors. The other “allowed” Doctor. (Thanks, Eddy, for having teeth and eye issues and therefore “allowing” CSers to visit only those doctors!!!!). (Oh – and if Eddy did break bones and whatever on the ice and had a “miracle” healing (that she months later sued the city for!), then why are CSers allowed to go get bones set??) (in the words of Mark Twain: “but I digress.”)

    What I wanted to say is – eye doctors test for glaucoma! Which I don’t know what that is. But it’s a medical test. And they never let me skip it. Eye doctors don’t just hand over glasses and call it a day! It’s NOT a band aid solution. It’s medical science. CSers just conveniently don’t pay attention to all those eye posters and tests that are being run. (Orange dye in the eyes?)

    • I know all about glaucoma. My eye doctor had some concerns about it with me, due to one indicator I had that was apparent in my examination–I believe there are two or three indicators they test for, and all of the others were far into the normal range for me. All that happened was a series of six-month follow-up exams that extensively tested my peripheral vision to note if there was any measurable degradation, which would have made for a diagnosis of glaucoma. I tested out perfectly fine, and the abnormality they did see is apparently congenital in nature and not caused by glaucoma–much to my relief. However, as a 40-something person, I now use glasses for reading.

      Glaucoma is a condition wherein fluid pressure within the eye degrades the optic nerve, ultimately causing blindness if left untreated (I wonder how many Christian Scientists have suffered that fate). It is detected by a pressure test–the little puff of air on the eye test, and a visual exam. Tests of peripheral vision are a follow-up if concerns are raised by the two usual tests that are part of every eye exam. Symptoms include a loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision), although if you start to notice that, it’s probably too late, and any loss of visual acuity is permanent. I think eye pain is another symptom, but not sure on that. It’s not curable, but I understand that it is completely manageable with medical treatment. Even though my eye doctor is not concerned about glaucoma in my case, she will still check for it on my regular bi-annual eye exams.

      The examination my dentist uses I think may actually still be experimental–they still use the old examination methods we all are familiar with as well. It involved the use of a device that strangely resembles a black-light. I guess apparently pre-cancerous cells are more detectable with this device. It was quite interesting, and my dentist is one of a handful in my province who are using it.

      • Thank you for the response to the comment! I didn’t know any of that. I appreciate you very much. – J

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