ostrander 1Tammie Ostrander of Seabeck, Wash., has never been more ready to celebrate her wonderful life. “I feel like the richest woman in town this Christmas,” says the Clear Creek Dentistry patient, describing the culmination of the last nine months. “I have been given a priceless gift for which I am indebted to Dr. Lyle Beck!”

During a routine cleaning appointment last spring, one of Clear Creek’s dental hygienists encouraged Ostrander to get a full panoramic X-ray. “Sandi (Olsen) is always so thorough. She noticed they didn’t have one for me on file and informed me my insurance (Tri Care) would now cover it. I don’t keep track of changes in my policy like that, so I would not have known I could get an updated scan as part of a preventative visit. We went ahead with the X-ray and, boy, am I glad we did.”

“Dr. Beck came in after the scans were taken to talk with me, like he always does, and review the images together. Then he said ‘there’s something in your head that doesn’t belong there.’ I kind of joked it off at first, because we always have fun conversations during my appointments, until I realized he was quite serious. He told me I needed to make an appointment with my primary care doctor or with a surgeon immediately to further evaluate an abnormality he was seeing.”

Due to the relationship she’d developed with Dr. Beck, since the office opened in Silverdale seven years ago, Ostrander knew to trust him implicitly. Within just a couple of weeks of that dental “discovery,” Ostrander had a CAT scan, followed by an MRI, confirming Dr. Beck’s intuition and her own worst fear. “I was sitting in the dentist’s chair in mid-March and, gratefully, had made it to a seat in front of a neurologist in short order (by the beginning of May). The neurologist ordered an angiogram and lab work that confirmed I had a cerebral aneurysm, which showed my main artery looking like a corkscrew. I was stunned!”

With virtually no symptoms beyond the occasional headache or neck ache, Ostrander was immediately put on blood thinners to reduce the swelling in her main artery and pressure on her brain. She was told she had 30 days before they would need to do surgery to place a stent and pipeline. “I waited more nervously than anything I’ve had to wait for in my life,” Ostrander said. “I did a lot of praying.”

Shortly before her June surgery took place, Ostrander paid a visit back to Dr. Beck. “By then I had been told, several times by several different doctors, that the aneurysm was ready to burst. If it had, I wouldn’t have had time to even get medical care before my brain filled with blood,” she said. “How do you say thank you to someone for intervening on that?”

ostrander 3ostrander 4The months following Ostrander’s operation were filled with more worried waiting to see if her body would accept or reject its “new parts” and hopes that she would not develop an infection. “I am only 58. I have two grown daughters and a son, and grandchildren who I love dearly. My youngest daughter got married in September and my sixth grandchild was born. I had all these amazing things happening in my life, yet the aneurysm was like this dark cloud hovering over all of it,” she said. “I did not know what was in store for me, only knew I really didn’t want to check out yet!”

Fast forward to the “present.” On Friday, Dec. 18, just one week before Christmas, Ostrander opened an early gift. It was a text message from her daughter, Tanya, written before she was even awake from her follow-up angiogram. It read: “Hey Mom, The doctor just came out and told us that you’re all healed. He said the aneurysm is cured, there’s no need for any further follow-up. He was really pleased with the results. I am so relieved and happy. It is such an amazing blessing that your dentist even found it. I love you!”

If a miracle means something ordinary becoming extraordinary, then Ostrander unquestionably believes she was given just that. “No blood clots, no infection, no more aneurysm…a Christmas miracle!” said Ostrander, still recovering from this most recent procedure. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and telling everyone I know to go to the dentist regularly and stay on top of their own preventative oral care. It was something I really hadn’t taken seriously until all of this.”

ostrander 2Ostrander admits she, like many other busy moms and grandmothers, had not always made her own health the priority. “I would tell myself ‘I’ll do it later, I feel healthy.’ This has totally changed my view on having regular check-ups. You have to take care of yourself first to be there to care for others, and you really can’t take your health for granted,” she said. “The team at Clear Creek Dentistry is so educational. They want you involved in your own care and share their knowledge at each visit so you can become a healthier overall being.”

Celebrating at home, with her family and a clean bill of health, Ostrander struggles to find words that amply describe her feelings. “Dr. Beck saved my life,” she said. “If his expert eye had not recognized a problem on that first scan it just would have been a whole other story. Fortunately, I have a well-educated, observant and kind dentist, who took the time with me to make a difference and be the turning point in restoring my health. For that, I will be grateful forever and always!”

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