Something Weird Happened…After a Tooth Infection

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On December 23, 2018, I broke my mouth guard. In the process, I broke two teeth, rear right side molars. It was a really bad day to do that, and on the 26 rushed to the dentist. The pain was already up there. For medical pros, anywhere from eight to oh my god. Yes, opiods were prescribed for the pain.

There were a few things that came soon after. First an emergency appointment with an endodontist, and the first of three courses of antibiotics. I had two root canals in two different molars within two weeks. I got very sick due to the infection. I have not been that sick in a long time, if ever. And yes, a tooth infection can be fatal. So that did run through my mind.

The infection was so bad that we ended up at the ER thinking emergency oral surgery and sepsis, possibly septicemia. Oh, there were other, just as bad, scenarios. Thankfully this ER was a rare beast and had a dentist on staff. So it turns out we went to the ER on the worst day, and by the next day started to feel better. I was sent home by the dentist with instructions to come back if it got worst. I was also told that the dentist would have gone to the ER as well and that this sometimes happened. But that it should resolve with the course of antibiotics I was on. Fun fact, I needed a third one to completely eradicate what was a pretty persistent infection.

And here is where the weirdness starts, as well as family history. When my mom was a teenager she had typhoid fever. From family photos, she was overweight, if not obese as a youngster. After the infection subsided she lost all that weight and never regained it. She said she learned to eat. I suspect something else happened. Why? Because that has happened to me once the tooth infection resolved.

Let’s be clear about this, She was in her weight range after that and always ate small portions (what most dietitians would call a normal portion but in our portion distorted nation, they are just small.) When she snacked a little too much (corn chips were a favorite of hers) and gained a couple of pounds, she immediately watched it and lost it. She was also very active, and until the last year of her life went walking at least three times a week.

I remember her saying to me often, ”you served me too much!” Or if we went to a restaurant she tried to find both the cheaper and smallest entree. And quite often, even though she was part of the clean your plate club, she left food behind. Most remarkably, she was seldom hungry. She ate at regular times because it was time to eat. It wasn’t because she was hungry. I find myself doing the same, with one more caveat, I am allergic to gluten…not a fad. So I look for small, cheap and gluten-free.

Physical hunger was a rare beast for her.

Fast forward to my infection. Something similar happened. I am rarely, if ever, hungry. I eat because I know I need to eat. My perception of what is a normal portion also is about half of what I used to think a portion should be. Meaning, I can hear my mother if too much is on the plate…” you served me too much.”

Exercise is not a chore, but something I crave. It is odd as hell because I had to talk my way to the gym. These days I look forward to it and am much healthier.

I have lost close to fifteen pounds at this point. I am not on a diet. I cannot stress this enough. I eat when I need to eat. I do so slowly and mindfully. I actually have to look at a watch to know it’s time to eat. I have been told, maybe set an alarm, and have considered doing such. The only exception is if I have a sugar low, in which case I tend to have a healthy snack. However, physical hunger used to let me know when one was coming. That is gone. So I test my blood sugars more often, especially at night. I am still trying to find out what are the new physical cues that I need to eat.

Oh, and my primary is a tad incredulous, never mind the weight loss and lab values are what they are. In other words, they are much better than they have been in years. I wonder if the infection somehow changed my brain? Because yes, I do feel different vis a vis food. It’s weird, I enjoy a good meal. I cook almost every day, but I have to remind myself to eat. And at this point in my life, I have almost no cravings. Though a small latte seems to be the extent of it. It used to be a large latte, which is an example of what I say about portions.

And if something is sweet, it will be something I feel to the point of it is too sweet. Perhaps even my taste buds changed a tad.

I am not complaining, since I needed to lose this weight, and could not. I was stuck in the same plateau for years. Now I am losing this weight, not working at it, and getting my exercise.

So I posted a far shorter version of this on Social Media, going, WEIRD. Two other people piped in with similar stories. However, don’t look for this in the medical literature. I guarantee you will find almost nothing. I know why my primary is incredulous. From a science-based methodology, it makes little sense. There is very little, if any, medical literature on this. However, there is no way you can do a controlled study. Why? Start with all the human testing protocols. You will break most ethic rules in ten seconds flat.

It is not a blessing or a miracle, and quite frankly, I have no idea how long this will go on? If I share my mom’s experience, probably the rest of my life. However, there must be an explanation for this. And I do wish doctors started keeping a database of these events. A post-event database could help illuminate if there is something to this? I have a few theories of what happened, and I know that how I taste food did change as well. I am positive that so did my perception of food portions, and my satiation point. I do not mind. But an explanation would be excellent.

I am sharing this in the hopes that a medical professional will start putting a database together. Some relevant questions would be what is the triggering event, and how long does this last? For the moment, I am close to fifteen pounds down, if not more. And I am sure at this point that further weight loss is possible. When you are not hungry it is not that crazy.

Nor is this disordered eating. I am actually enjoying my food on far more of a schedule.

So to a healthier me. And if you happen to share this experience, you are not crazy.

Edit one. I bumped into this BBC program the other day on Netflix. And two things seem to start to make sense. The antibiotics and the probiotics I took while sick, somehow, might have changed my gut biome.

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Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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