Sharing stories, knowledge, and rants about living with metal allergies.

I Hate Nickel


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Entries in braces (7)


Long-Term Effects

Are there any long-term effects from my nickel allergy illness?  I was exposed to nickel 24/7 for 2 years while I was wearing braces and became grossly ill and incapacitated.  Did that leave any chronic conditions?  I’ve always said no, so far (knock on wood) I’ve seen no lasting effects.  Once the braces were removed, my body healed; my sensitivity to nickel is stronger now, but there don’t seem to be any lingering problems.  However, today I realized I have to qualify that statement.  My nickel illness experience left no permanent physical effects, but apparently there are psychological ones.    :(

Yesterday my dentist told me that I need a root canal and a crown.  It’s unfortunate, but not a big deal.  I have had two root canals in my lifetime, and I already have one crown on a tooth that I broke when I was younger.  I’ve never had any fear of the dentist or of pain.  For example, when I was twenty I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at once without the use of anesthetics, (my dislike of being drugged strongly outweighed my concern of the possible pain).  My current dentist knows of my nickel allergy and my experience from the braces, so I’ve been assured that no nickel will be used during my treatment.  The crown will be all porcelain.  It should be no big deal.

So, why, as I was talking to my husband this morning about it, did I burst into tears?!  If it’s no big deal, why did fear wash over me at the thought of my appointment next week?  I was seized by a host of what-if scenarios.  What if they didn’t take me seriously when I asked that no nickel be used?  What if the lab sends the wrong crown, and it’s a metal crown instead?  What if they simply don’t do the research, and their assurance that there is no nickel in anything is complete crap?  What if I have to go through this all over again?!

It is a big deal.  I am petrified.

“Allergy” is such a vague term, open to so much personal interpretation and inference.  Is there ever a guarantee that others will take it seriously?  I realize that we cannot rid the world of allergens, and I realize that what harms me may be perfectly healthy for 80% of the population… but that scares me - what that 80% might do.  Not out of malice, but out of ignorance.  We can all agree that it is perfectly reasonable to expect to not have a gun pointed at you.  We can all agree that it is perfectly reasonable to go to a restaurant and not be fed arsenic or bleach.  We cannot all agree that we should not be fed peanuts or strawberries.  We cannot all agree that we should not be given nickel jewelry or orthodontics.  This is why it’s always on the allergy-ee (person with the allergy) to speak up when in a given situation.  These dangers are not “dangers” to everyone else, so it’s up to me to inform.  However, at that point, all I can do is HOPE that people will listen to me, not forget, not misunderstand, etc., and so, metaphorically, not feed me arsenic.  Those with life-threatening allergies are told to avoid these situations completely, because relying on strangers is too risky an option.  This is a new experience for me, and I am fearful of the implications.

How do I reconcile this with daily life?  I have to go to the dentist.  I can’t avoid it.  One day, I will have to go to a doctor, or to a hospital, and I will have to put my trust in strangers again.  No, it won’t instantly kill me if they screw up.  But does that make it any more ok?  I am less afraid of death than I am of going back to that point of illness.  (What is life if you cannot join the living)?  One day oh-too-soon I am going to have lie down in a dentist chair and trust that strangers really do care and will strive to do no harm.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Are there any long-term effects from my two-year ordeal with a nickel allergy?  Yes, absolutely.