Since I do not have children, it naturally follows that I have never given birth. Unless one counts constipation, and I don’t.
One hears about the pain of childbirth. That it is a pain like no other. Unless you talk to a middle-aged man who has passed kidney stones. But how would he know? He’s never given birth. To validate that statement, we would need to talk to a woman who has done both.
But to get back to the subject of pain . . . as a childless woman, I truly believe that I have come as close to the pain of childbirth as I am likely to do without involving pointed nuggets and urine.
I have had the root canal from Hades.
I did not know what a “hot tooth” was until this last dental visit. A hot tooth is a tooth that refuses to be deadened. Mine was a premolar. My dentist – a very good dentist – shot so much novocaine into my gums it shot back out and squirted both of us in the face. The right side of my face numbed, even my eyeball, but not the nerve in the tooth. Oh no, not the nerve. That nerve was a very long nerve. It encircled my ear and ended up somewhere around my pituitary.
How did I get in that state? I had a pain in my tooth that wouldn’t go away. I went to the dentist. He diagnosed an abscess. He prescribed antibiotics. I took the antibiotics. I threw up the antibiotics. I returned. He said . . . and run if any dentist tells you this . . . “I will just open it up and irrigate.”
Irrigate is a misnomer. Irrigate, to a non-dentist, means to flush with water. To a dentist it means “take a pointed object, pick, scrape, and gouge the temporary cap off, stick a syringe into the cavity created, and suck out what you can. And if you accidentally pull out bone shards and organs, so be it.” Also, if the patient’s jaw is swollen, squeeze it hard. And if you don’t unseat the patient using only the pressure of your thumb, you aren’t pushing hard enough. And all this is to be done without the benefits of euthanasia. And that is not a typo.
After it was over – the first time – he said, “Let me do it again.”
I said, “Crap.”
I asked for permission to cry.
But they didn’t understand me since my words were garbled. I had four hands in my mouth at the time and I couldn’t feel my tongue. I did manage to make some noise, though. A sort of inner screaming that came out through my nose.
And then I was freed. I stumbled out into the reception area, wild eyed. People stared. Unable to talk, I motioned to my husband for some Ibuprophen. He gave me three. Three, sadly, wasn’t enough to kill me. So while he made arrangements for my next torture session, I ran out to the car so that I could lie down. I didn’t want to pass out in public. However, there was a very real danger that I would aspirate in my own vomit, but I didn’t mind. I welcomed it. But it didn’t happen.
We left the dentist and drove to Wal-mart to fill my prescription. A prescription for the same antibiotics I couldn’t keep down the first time. But this time we bought peanut butter. I hate peanut butter. I am possibly the only human who does hate it. It tastes the way socks smell and gets under my tongue so that I end up licking the air and drooling like a dog trying to swallow hair. But I’d found out that peanut butter on toast helped my brother keep antibiotics down, so peanut butter it was.
Unfortunately, I had to take four doses a day of the antibiotics. That meant four meals with great wodges of peanut butter slathered on edible objects. Twenty days of antibiotics. That means 80 meals full of peanut butter. Of course I had to follow it up with great mounds of comfort food. I have gained much weight, another plus that has made this experience memorable.
However, one course of antibiotics was not enough. I had to ask him to phone in another prescription. I finished my last round yesterday. I celebrated by buying a new dining table.
In three weeks I get my temporary crown. But only if my tooth looks good. Only if my body hasn’t rejected the root canal like it would a liver transplant. If it has, then the tooth gets pulled. And if it does, I will look like a jack-o-lantern.
Do you have any of your own dental stories you want to share? You could even tell us about the first time you’d lost one of your baby teeth. It’s all blog comment fodder.
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