plate shift or screws loose

Plates shift all the time.  In the earth’s lithosphere, the theory of plate tectonics describes how the continents drift over time.  Drift is barely measurable during a human lifetime.  Enough drift produces a shift.

I had been living in San Francisco, CA for six years when a plate shifted below the Loma Preita mountain north of Santa Cruz and caused devastation in the SF Bay Area.  I was in Hong Kong on a short trip at the time and could only watch the news and hope that those I knew were OK.

Nowadays though, I’m keeping my eye on another type of plate shift, one held in place by a set of screws.  I came to New York on a routine home visit and prudently had the periodic recommended CT scan on my neck/head.  The results showed the beginning of possible plate shift.  (Ahh, so that’s the reason my face has had that tingling feeling lately.)

The doctor who installed the hardware told me we could go in and take out the plate.  Plates or rods are installed in bones so that they properly set, after which the metal serves no purpose.

The scan shows that the screws holding in the plate may be coming out.  Not only that, there appears to be deterioration in the upper part of the mandible, the result of the gift that radiation, from five years ago, keeps on giving.  Taking out the drifting plate may be like “opening a can of worms,” the surgeon says.  The surgery could resolve the issue or complicate it.  There is no road map for radiation effects.

“Let’s take another CT scan in six months,” the doctor says, “and until then, just live life,…and make sure you don’t get hit in the face.”  I guess what he meant was try your best to prevent a plate shift.

In the meantime, if I hear someone telling me I’ve got a few screws loose, I’ll know they won’t be wrong.