Archive | May, 2009

The jaw today

29 May

By now, my jaw feels more or less normal. On the left side, the tingly numbness around the site of the fracture has diminished considerably. The area is still tender to the touch, however. I’m chewing most foods normally. In fact, I find that I’m more cautious about not breaking my newly repaired teeth (which are on the right side) than my jaw, so I’ll usually bite with my left teeth rather than the right ones. Oddly enough, I experience pain more often on the right side of my jaw than on the left side.

Other than that, all I have to share is a picture. I made an attempt to record a movie displaying the range of motion of my jaw, but I found that to be too difficult. Even taking a closeup picture was challenging and required several attempts.

IMG_0802

It seems to me that the size of the opening is progressing pretty well, but I don’t really have any good reference points. What is clear, though, is that my mouth still isn’t opening straight. This is perhaps most obvious from the misalignment between the lines between the pairs of teeth at the center of the top and bottom.

A day late

28 May

Somebody from Alta Bates returned my call a few minutes ago. It didn’t seem like she had any record of billing Blue Shield of California, but she did take my correct insurance information. She seemed surprised that I didn’t have a group number for my primary insurance, but she took my father’s name, date of birth, and employer information instead. She also told that they had the wrong member number for my secondary insurance.

Now I’m back to waiting for more bills (and non-bills) to roll in.

Non-bill update

27 May

On Saturday, I mentioned that I’d have to call Alta Bates on Monday to give them my correct insurance information. Of course, I was forgetting that Monday was a holiday, so I ended up calling Tuesday morning instead. I left a message on a voicemail system, and I was supposed to hear back within one business day. I called a few minutes after 9AM, so they still will have a few minutes to meet that deadline after the phones open, but I’m not very optimistic.

If I don’t hear back, I think I’ll wait until I receive an actual bill before I take things further.

Tooth repair (again)

27 May

Yesterday was a busy day, so I didn’t get a chance to write about it, but I returned to the dentist’s office to get my broken tooth repaired again. I was afraid that I’d get a lecture about watching what I was eating, but the dentist seemed to think that it was more likely that the break was caused by my teeth grinding against each other. I certainly wasn’t going to object to that hypothesis.

The dentist fixed the tooth again. This time, he didn’t need to numb my mouth because he wasn’t doing very much drilling. The whole procedure took about 20 minutes, and at the end he told me I was “better than ever”. He then had me move my jaw around to see if there was any way in which I could make my lower teeth collide with the newly repaired upper tooth. I managed to find an extremely contrived and awkward position that achieved such a collision, and the dentist shaved the artificial part of the repaired tooth accordingly.

The tooth has held up just fine so far, but I’ve been extremely careful not to use it to bite anything that will provide significant resistance.

A step backwards

25 May

I just discovered that one of the two teeth I had repaired on Thursday is broken again. Surprisingly, it’s the tooth that was only slightly chipped, rather than the one that the dentist told me was likely to eventually need a crown. I’ve been avoiding biting into anything with it, so this is frustrating to say the least. I’ll have to call the dentist’s ¬†office tomorrow morning and see what they say.

The longest I have ever taken to eat a Clif Bar

24 May

The last thing I ate before my accident was about 90% of an Iced Gingerbread Clif Bar. I had purchased 30 of the seasonal flavor Clif Bars at the Grocery Outlet the day before (for $0.59 each), and I brought one along for my ride. I ate most of it at the first regroup, about five miles before my accident. The remaining 10% survived the accident, so I put it in my freezer with the rest of my perishable foods.

This afternoon, seven weeks and a few hours after I opened the Clif Bar, I removed the little remaining piece from the freezer and left it out for a few hours to allow it to thaw. After thawing, it was hard enough that I didn’t want to bite into it directly, so I broke it into small pieces, which I allowed to soften in my mouth before chewing. I think it was a little bit harder than a normal Clif Bar, but it tasted fine.

The almost normal diet

24 May

My diet has been pretty much normal for the last few days. There are still things I can’t eat, but these things are few enough that I don’t really notice them.

Yesterday, I made a Tofu Kale Stir-fry which has been good except that I was too lazy to devein my kale, so it is a bit chewier than I would like my jaw to have to handle. I’ve also eaten various vegetables, some udon noodles, some seitan, and I haven’t had a problem with any of it.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the way the food I froze after the accident has turned out. I’ve had a couple of sandwiches on the bread I threw in the freezer, and I can’t even tell that the bread has been frozen. I’ve left the Chickpea Cutlets in the freezer, though. I’m guessing those are still too hard.

More non-bills

23 May

I opened the mailbox today to find an envelope from Blue Shield of California. I figured that this had to do with my medical bills, but I was surprised to receive mail from Blue Shield of California because neither of my insurance policies were through that entity.

Opening the envelope, I found three sheets of paper with two explanations of benefits. Each was for a claim for services rendered on 04/05/09, the date of my accident. Both claims were received by the insurer on 04/24/09 and processed in 3 days, and the documents claimed to have been issued on 4/28/09. Each carried a “Subscriber ID” number that somewhat resembled the one on my card for the UC Berkeley Student Health Insurance Plan.

One statement was for services from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, the hospital where I received emergency care. It listed 10 items, all classified as “MISC SERVICES”, for a total cost of $1,944.10. The second statement was for services from the Berkeley Emergency Medical Group, and carried 3 “MISC SERVICES” items totalling $1,179.00. This was the first I had heard of this entity or any of its charges. Both statements explained that Blue Shield hadn’t paid any of the costs, justifying this with a note:

Our eligibility records indicate that htis person is not currently enrolled in a Blue Shield plan. Please contact the Blue Shield Customer Service Department if you have additional information regarding eligibility.

In other words, Blue Shield sent isn’t paying for my medical services because I don’t have insurance with them. It would have been nice if they had, obviously, but I can’t say I expected any better.

Of course, this raises the question of why a claim was submitted to Blue Shield of California in the first place. It’s possible that the hospital confused Blue Shield with Anthem Blue Cross, which administers Berkeley’s SHIP plan. However, I already received on Wednesday (but was too lazy to blog about) an Explanation of Benefits from the SHIP plan for some small charges for Radiology services from Bay Imaging Consultants administered on 04/05/09, so it seems that somebody in the hospital must have gotten their hands on my correct SHIP insurance information that day. The other possibility is that they billed Blue Shield of California instead of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts but used the my SHIP member number.

I’ll have to call the hospital’s billing line on Monday to get things straightened out. I may have to call the Berkeley Emergency Medical Group, also. I’ll try to get itemized bills, as well. I really don’t understand, though, why everything is getting billed incorrectly. All of my providers have seen my insurance cards, so it just shouldn’t be that hard.

New teeth

22 May

I went to my dentist’s office yesterday morning expecting to have my routine six-month cleaning. I had called to schedule an appointment a couple of weeks ago and explained that I needed two appointments: one to have the teeth fixed, and the other to get them cleaned. The receptionist scheduled one appointment, which she told me was for the cleaning. She said that the dentist would look at the chipped teeth and we could decide what to do about them thereafter.

When I went in yesterday, though, the dentist looked at my teeth for less than a minute before he started discussing the repair options for the front teeth. The fastest option was bonding, which he could do on the spot. However, for the tooth that was more seriously broken, this would probably eventually fail. The other option was a crown which would cover the whole tooth, which would also have the advantage of looking more natural. However, he wouldn’t be able to begin work on that while the arch bars were on my teeth.

I elected to get the bonding done, even though I knew it might just be a temporary solution for at least one of the teeth. The dentist numbed my mouth, and over the course of the next half hour had me periodically bite down and open my mouth. He then had me rinse my mouth and look in a mirror. The teeth looked terrible. The seam between the natural tooth and the artificial piece was very visible, and there were also white splotches on the tooth.

The dentist told me that I should avoid using the bonded teeth to bite into harder foods for a while. This, of course, wasn’t a problem because I had been avoiding harder foods altogether. He also told me that the repaired teeth would never be as strong as my natural teeth.

From the dentist’s office, I took a bus to campus, where my first stop was a bathroom to see if my teeth had somehow changed in the last twenty minutes. Somehow, they had. I didn’t even recognize my teeth when I looked in the mirror. At first glance, they looked natural to me, but upon closer examination I could see that they weren’t. I could see that the bonded piece was a slightly different color and a little bit shorter than the other one. Still, they looked much better than they had in the dentist’s chair. My guess is that when I looked in the dentist’s chair, there was some substance from the procedure on the surface of the tooth, but this had rinsed off since then. The idea of having swallowed this substance is not a particularly pleasant one, but I seem to still be alive.

Finally, a photo:Repaired teeth

The picture isn’t great, but for comparison, here are the chipped teeth.

Bike maintenance

21 May

I took my bike in for a tune-up (which is covered under the one-year maintenance warranty from Missing Link, where I bought it) yesterday. I was told that my rear brake pads needed to be replaced. This was somewhat surprising in that I had only ridden the bike for about two months. My old bike had been going on the same rear brake pads for about five months, and weren’t at the point of needing to be replaced. I’ll never know for sure, but it’s quite possible that the condition of the brakes played some role in my accident. I’ll have to watch my brake pads more carefully from now on.

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