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Forgiveness: Seventy Times Seven



In 2021, right after my thirtieth birthday in June, I was finally in a phase where I felt released to share my testimony. Up until that point, I had not developed any MS (multiple sclerosis) symptoms again, following the procedure roughly two years prior. I had grown confident of the cause, and (unfortunately) the origin of the problem was confirmed for us a few months later, in September 2021. Though healed of the MS and much wiser than before, we still did not have all the answers to the ingrained problems in our lifestyles. For example, up until losing a filling in June 2021 and causing myself severe vertigo and nausea, I didn’t realize that I clenched so often at night. This health dilemma led me to a dental practice in Potchefstroom which supplied me with a specific mouthpiece to prevent my trigeminal nerve from being damaged and leading to the problematic symptoms. Months later -the same month my first testimony would run in the JUIG! magazine- I would visit this practice again, in no way being able to predict the regret which would follow.


Deception is the first word that comes to mind when I think of that event. Roughly a week prior,on a Saturday morning, my sensitive tooth became an issue I could not ignore any longer. I had been planning to go to a dentist immediately following our 12-hour relocation and was delaying an unnecessary visit to a local dentist as much as possible. I did not then have access to the ozone I usually would use to manage such an infection, as my oxygen cylinder could not be refilled. With the COVID-19 pandemic, oxygen had become worth more than gold. And so, after an episode of mind-numbing pain, I decided that I would take a chance and go to this practice again. I had, after all, been satisfied with my experience the previous round. This would be the first time I met with the dentist though, as it was the oral-hygienist who had helped me with the needed mouthpiece.


While making the appointment, a thought came up to me; Perhaps this was happening so that I may share my testimony with this dentist before we leave. On the previous visit, I had already shared our history of the MS-root canal connection with most of his staff. And so I started to prepare myself emotionally for this next opportunity.


I spoke with Johan Jacobs again during that week, and he also encouraged me to share my testimony. I took with me the relevant information and in this, I prayed often for protection and guidance. Though I am naturally shy in such situations, I felt the need to push through my discomfort this time. There were two main reasons: firstly, for the testimony to be shared; and secondly, for the dentist to understand my tenacity in avoiding a root canal treatment. I went to them to simply and humbly share my experience and offer the medical information they could use to verify the cause with, but I was deceived. I felt mocked, even. Not specifically in the physical, though the doctor pointedly asked why I hadn’t “cured” my toothache with the ozone. Within I felt as if he was laughing at me, and at my testimony. Shaking off the feeling, thinking that I was just nervous and that the dentist’s humor was for the sake of lightening the atmosphere, I sat down in the chair and tried to resist the inner urge to flee.


After a quick examination of my mouth, the dentist bluntly declared that I would need a root canal. Either that, or I would need to have the tooth extracted. My mind swirled with information brought up by these two options. At the same time, there was a part of me that was wondering whether he had heard ANYTHING I had shared about my life-altering experience with root canals. But I decided to focus on the practical and pressured decision I had before me. As you can assume, the root canal was in no way an option. However, extracting a tooth without prior preparation and the dentist’s cooperation regarding the removal of the ligament could also be very damaging, as we know per prior experience. I declined the first option almost simultaneously as his giving it, and when there was hesitant silence after he gave the latter option, he offered an alternative: He could clean out the abscess and then cover the tooth with a temporary filling. I exhaled my tension. Though financially taxing, that option gave me some time, some breathing room to decide what I would do next. The best option, of course, would have been to go to a biological dentist*. But their appointments needed to be made at least a month ahead of time. So it had seemed that this dentist would have been a good second option. Because this dentist did the correct removal of amalgam fillings, he had to have known that dental practices have not necessarily always been healthy. I honestly thought that with his knowledge and my explanation, he may have been sympathetic to my testimony. It was within that frame of mind that I tried to still my discomfort. As I lay back again, my heart still beating heavily with unease, I tried to focus on what the dentist was doing at the site.


I have always loved surgery. Not on myself, of course, but I enjoyed the two years I worked as a veterinary assistant in the hospital wing of a practice in Potchefstroom. I am quite familiar with surgical equipment, and as I usually ask many questions I have a broad understanding of what the purposed design of the tools usually are. I now was the one being operated on, but as I don’t feel anxious about visible internal body tissues and such, I usually try to “watch” what the dentist is doing. A part of me also likes knowing what next I should expect. As usual, first the needle… oftentimes the most stressful part. I watched as he deftly filled a developing cavity, and then waited for the drilling of the next tooth to start. There was a funny taste in my mouth behind the rubber dam used to prevent unnecessary exposure to the infection. Following next was some pressure, a bit of rinsing, and suction. But then, he pulled up a tool that looked like a handle with a spiraled wire tip and started to dig in my abscessed tooth. Uh-oh! I stiffened. My body knew what was happening before I could logically conclude. My adrenals started pumping. I fought against my body’s urge to run as I was caught in this struggle, my instinctual brain fiercely trying to communicate within the logical parts of my mind. You see, I remembered seeing a similar tool. It was on The Root Cause movie, being used to clean out the root canal of a tooth. That was the absolute last thing I wanted to happen. If the root canal is emptied, there is no longer any blood supply. There is then no way for oxygen or infection-fighting white blood cells to reach the deadly anaerobic bacteria. As soon as I could force my way into my thinking brain, I tried to calm myself. “Relax. He said he wasn’t going to do a root canal. I should trust him. He said…” And so I tried to convince myself that my base instincts were mistaken. But I couldn’t deny the internal trembling or the tingling snaking its way down my neck.


Afterward, the dentist walked me to the accounting assistant and explained to her the codes she needed to create my invoice. I then asked for the second time if I could leave the information regarding the MS-root canal connection for him, and he mildly agreed. The lady before me, who I am going to call Cindy for the sake of anonymity, wanted to hear more about my journey with MS. She was at that time doing tests, as the doctors suspected the possibility of MS. She seemed earnestly interested and truly desperate for a solution, and so we made a coffee-appointment for the following day during her lunch. That evening, however, after we had spoken some more regarding my journey and suggestions that stemmed from it, she balked. Our appointment never happened, but she did let me know that she also was diagnosed with MS, shortly after our meeting. I pray that the information she now had access to would lead to her freedom, and that she would have the courage to choose the road less traveled.


A few days after the procedure, a friendly neighbor picked up my referral letter from the dental practice for me. The envelope was open, and as it was at that time lying amongst other documents I read it just to make sure that it was the one meant for me. I could in no way have prepared myself for what came next. As I read the letter, addressed to the referred dentist close to our new town, my blood turned to ice. I stopped in my tracks and reread the letter, dissecting the sentences to try and make better sense of them. There, in black and white with the dentist’s signature, stood an acronym that I had no other interpretation for than an emergency “Root Canal Treatment”. (Nood WKB: Wortelkanaal behandeling.) I felt faint. My body remembered 2019, the worst year of my MS symptoms, all too well. I couldn’t go through that again! This must be a mistake. In my panic, I grasped for a solution, some reasonable thought to explain this away. My heart cried aloud to our Father in Heaven, and He answered me. “Peace, My child. Be still.” was the whisper in my soul, and I held on, feeling the anxiety ebb away. I would deal with this as it develops, I decided, and not worry about tomorrow. Perhaps this description was just the closest to the procedure he carried out, I thought.


The pain in my tooth was gone, and so I could once again focus fully on packing and planning. We were moving to a town roughly 12 hours away with 3 small children on board, towing our bakkie with all our earthly possessions on board. During the process, my back started to act up, but I chalked it down to overzealous lifting and packing. The real issue started with the move itself. I had noticed that the numb pressure in my back felt more intense, and noticed that I seemed a bit clumsier. But in a chapter such as we were in, it was easy to convince myself that I was simply tired and overworked.


The big move was happening. We woke at midnight and started packing, loading, and strapping up the boxes. Most of everything was items that we needed for daily use, so the main packing had occurred within the past three days. After waking the boys, we left around 2’am. I was tired but didn’t meditate too much on it, as there were many possible causes. Regularly turning to face the rear to sort out quibbles, hand out snacks, and offer entertainment during the long drive was not easy on my back. My logical conclusion then, on the second day of the drive, was that the intermittent twisting along with the hours of sitting had caused the already fragile intervertebral cushion in my spine to bulge again. I had no feeling in my legs, and they seemed unwilling to move despite my conscious effort. But a herniated disk would not explain my scapulae which felt as if hot irons were being held to them, or the fact that my numbness started much higher up in my back than the L1-L2 area where my disk had possibly ruptured. My thoughts kept on tumbling about, searching for a truth-filled answer. But all I got was confused allegations and physical disability.


Within the days that followed, symptoms rapidly multiplied. Some of them I could group, possibly caused by the stress of moving or my back injury. But others were completely irrelevant. My brain was in constant confusion and fogginess, which did no good in helping me find the solution. And my short-term memory was severely affected. My husband and I would actively engage in a conversation, and less than 5 minutes later I would be unable to recall the topic at all. I kept filling my mental jar (and often taking notes) with my symptoms. It was days later when I realized; these symptoms looked the same as those in 2019; though much, much more aggressive in progression.


I knew what needed to be done. That wasn’t the issue. I had to have the tooth correctly removed, the periodontal ligament drilled out with a slow-rotating burr, and then the jawbone cleaned out with ozone. It seemed so simple. But performing the task would not be easy. First of all, we were now at our farthest from any biological dentist*. That meant that I would have to fly to either one, on my own, in my disabled state, and have strangers transport me back and forth. Not only did this feel like an unsafe choice in South Africa, but the finances regarding such an expedition would also be comparable to a lower middle-class monthly salary. We just didn’t have the funds, and since I was 100% sure of the cause, I didn’t feel like wasting thousands of Rands on scans I didn’t need. The solution seemed to be to go local.


While we had still been in Potchefstroom, I already had researched the dental practices in our soon-to-be hometown. I prayed for a sign as I went about this, because referrals would be difficult with the small number of people we knew there. The first thing I took as a sign was this dentist’s name; it meant “belonging to God”. He had a practice in Church Street. His receptionist was the most helpful and friendly person I had spoken to in a long time, and once we knew we needed a local dentist, two of our trusted friends recommended this specific one.


I phoned and chatted to the receptionist about my dilemma. I would need to know if the dentist would be willing to adjust his regular practices as well as irrigate the area with the ozone I would provide. Theirs was a very busy practice. We made an appointment for two weeks later to discuss the options with the dentist, and in the interim, we prayed. In the days that followed, I struggled with thoughts of the previous dentist ignoring my plea, and I had to very purposefully rein in my mind’s path regarding. We already had two reasons to believe that he had done a root canal: the letter obviously stated it, and my symptoms were in line with the previous root canal issue. My husband and I decided that we would not share the history with the new dentist, but only our procedure request and ask that he confirm whether a root canal treatment had been done. If the dentist confirmed it, my husband would then contact the previous dentist.


The dental practice was situated on the busiest street in town, but inside was a calm and welcoming oasis. We were welcomed by a friendly staff, and almost from the first moment, I felt as if the dentist was somehow familiar. I judged him a person of integrity, but still shied away from easily trusting anyone at this stage. In a way, I suppose I felt that it was my fault I was in this situation in the first place. My husband had come with me for this first appointment, and after introducing ourselves we shared our request. I could settle for no less than following the guide given, and this was difficult for me to convey to a medical professional who was also unknown to me. But, as our Good Father works, I should have expected someone compassionate to my plea to have this toxic tooth removed. I was grateful when the dentist did a quick examination of my mouth, as we only had a 15-minute appointment. Without having shared my history, the dentist confirmed that this tooth was definitely a root canal-treated one. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This was such a mess. We left the office with an appointment for two weeks later. The toxic tooth was going to have to be in my mouth for more than 6 weeks.


During the time between, I experienced some of the worst symptoms I ever had before. I think that the only reason I wasn’t becoming some sort of crazy was the fact that I knew what the cause was. We had family come to visit in the weeks before I could have the tooth removed, and I struggled to focus on conversation and general tasks which needed to be done. Little did I know that this visit would bless and encourage me much more than my physical difficulties would challenge me.


My body was once again taken hostage by this infection, so very similar to the one in 2019. I struggled each moment to function and react normally. Unable to drive, my days were spent mainly at home. And after finding myself unable to take any more steps halfway around the block, I started to withdraw all the more into my home. Unpacking boxes and unpacking my heart, I found myself communicating all the more with my

He could understand my heart’s deepest anguish in this place of physical brokenness and wrestling against the shock of the deception. It was within that struggle that something new was opened within; forgiving seventy times seven times. (Matt. 18:22)


Lord, look what he did to me. Forgive.

I can’t drive because of this. Forgive.

I’m not gonna make it up those last three steps. It’s not okay! Forgive.

My body is weak and trembles constantly. Forgive.

Getting dressed is a struggle, Lord. I can only wear certain shoes or else I may fall. Forgive.

I am 30 years old, Abba. But I have to make choices as if I am 90! Forgive.

I have no appetite, no inspiration, joy, or patience within.

Forgive. Forgive. Forgive, over and over.



In that choice to forgive (Matt. 6:12), I foundfind myself releasing those hurts, those barbs that heldholding me captive. My soul then more inspired, found peace within. So many times I have had to make that choice again when a new frustration arises that was caused by this incident. Practice makes perfect, the saying goes, and I can readily agree that this is true when it comes to forgiveness.


My husband did call that dentist. Not with accusations, but with questions. He called to confirm the dentist’s statement, which remained the same as the one given to me. He specifically stated that he did not give me a root canal treatment. This upset me, as you may imagine. How could he…? It took more than a few minutes to get my mind back to what I was being led to do in this situation. Before the call, we had been unsure of what we should do about my request being ignored by the dentist, and the damage that occurred as result. But in the days following, a certainty grew within. We were not being called to pursue a judgment in calling out the dentist on his malpractice, but rather to forgive and leave the judgment to the One who knows. He knows us in our innermost beings, in complete fullness. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” is what we read in Deuteronomy 32:35. In that realization, peace suddenly dawned on me. Had He not guided me all along? Can He not be trusted with the uncomfortable details of this situation? I know that He can.


The day of my release from the infection broke with relief, and I cannot fully express how excited I was for this tooth extraction. If that sentence was taken out of context it would certainly earn me a few baffled looks from strangers! But I must say, at this point, I was overjoyed with being at the top of climbing this grueling mountain with only sloping hills heading homeward. My new dentist was very gracious and well-informed, and he did not even bat an eye when I arrived with all my equipment and explanations. To experience such overwhelming compassion and grace healed some hurts caused by my previous experiences. The extraction was done gently and carefully, and though he did not usually drill after a well-performed extraction, he complied with my request. After the drilling, he irrigated the area with the ozonated water I had been bubbling on the countertop, and then he closed up the operation site. All the while, I was listening to his pleasant conversation and watching photos shuffle across the overhead screen of his family and travels. All this was done in only half an hour, and after 6 weeks of what felt like a taste of hell, that seemed almost too good to be true. Thankfully, it wasn’t!

Within the first 3 days, I started to see improvement. My severe brain fog started to lift, and I felt that I could focus and remember more. Gradually over the next few months, I felt pieces of myself “clicked” back into place again. The weakness due to this episode, as with the previous, left the worst repercussions. To this day, I do not yet feel as I did before last year, September 2021. But there is a sense of relief in the confirmation I received along with the experience; that confirmation is that the MS I experienced and was diagnosed with was fully caused by the dental pathologies in my body. And it is within that testimony that I stand and share the wisdom given to us by our Creator; wisdom gifted to us through the fire of this refining experience.


In the present, 8 months after the unwanted root canal treatment was given, I can testify that I once more am free of all multiple sclerosis symptoms. Am I in perfect health? No. There are definitely things that need to be addressed, some of which I believe stem from the trauma of the past few years. Some of the problems I face daily are mechanical and due to the earlier MS symptoms, which can only be fixed by supernatural healing. But I am free of the symptoms which led to my being diagnosed with MS. I do not need a wheelchair now, 8-years after the diagnosis, which is the mainstream expectation that was conveyed to us. There is certainty and clarity, and so, so much hope which I now can share with the world. And that is why, even though this definitely could have been avoided, I will embrace the value of this journey anyway.


Blessings, René


 
If you haven’t yet read the testimony that is part one of this victory journey, I would like to encourage you to do so. It offers better context for this second part to follow. I honestly didn’t expect to experience more in this specific category of our journey, but life happened and I am grateful for the confirmation we received –though it came at no meager price. It can be found at the following link: https://www.zadoak.com/post/from-multiple-sclerosis-to-measureless-grace
 

*A biological dentist is a qualified dentist who adopts a holistic approach within dentistry. These dentists recognise the dangers in modern dentistry in practices such as root canal treatments, and incomplete extractions of teeth leading to pockets of (possibly) necrotic infections in the jaw. Such infections wreak havoc in the entire system, and can be (such as in my case) the sole cause of major diseases such as MS, Alzheimers, and Cancer.









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