Becky says things about … pain

Gentle Listener, I want to take you on a journey.

A journey of pain.

It is a journey I have been on in the last week or so, and I felt that it would be selfish to keep all the pain to myself – considering that there was such an incredible amount of it – so I decided to chronicle my pain to share with you.


Friday afternoon
2pm – Whilst eating a roll for lunch, I get a twinge in my upper right-hand second premolar, on which I had root canal treatment three years ago. This is not unusual, as it occasionally twinges. I think no more of it and cheerfully finish my roll.

6pm – On exiting my office into the cold, I get another twinge in my upper right-hand second premolar. It is a slightly more intense twinge, up in the gum. Hmm, I hmm, what dark force is this? But it’s Friday evening and no time for dental concerns, and I go and get drunk with my best friend.



10am – Through the blur of a mild hangover, there is a dull ache in the root above my upper right-hand second premolar. Hmm, I hmm, this is the same upper right-hand second premolar in which I was getting twinges yesterday. Let’s try eating something on it. I eat something on it.


2pm – The aching bud above my upper right-hand second premolar has blossomed into a delicate tree of unpleasantness. It is very sore to the touch and, every now and then, I get a cold, icy ache flaring up towards my eye socket. This brings back happy memories of actually having the root canal treatment and being able to feel the dentist shove a rod so far up my face that I felt it nudge said eye socket. I buy precautionary painkillers.

9pm – Despite the precautionary painkillers, the sharp, twisting sting above my upper right-hand second premolar is now throbbing. I cannot even think about touching it. Eating on that side of my mouth is inconceivable. I take more painkillers and try to go to sleep. Lying in bed feels like this:



5am – I am still awake. My mouth and cheek are alive with the sound of pain. I have taken two more doses of painkillers. I finally fall asleep from sheer exhaustion at around 5.30am.

7am – I am woken by a fiery shot of pain so intense that it makes me sit bolt upright like I’ve had a nightmare in a film. A blue fire licks at my root and burns my cheek. I tearfully call the NHS emergency dental number and, through a fabulous spoonful of luck and the wonders of our National Health Service, I get a dental appointment at the nearest hospital at 9.30am.

9.30am – I stumble to the hospital. I see Dentist Norman. I hope Dentist Norman will tell me I’ve just got a bit of food stuck between my teeth, and send me home with some dental floss and a sticker. Instead, Dentist Norman tells me I have an infection at the top of my root canal, the root canal on which I had treatment three years ago. He gives me two sets of antibiotics and tells me they should kick in within 24 hours. I wish Dentist Norman a happy Valentine’s Day, and crawl to the nearest pharmacy where I collect my drugs, after almost passing out over the counter, and hunch outside like a junkie on a comedown and shove drugs into my shattered mouth.


6pm – Pain. I live within it. I have never been without it. Crunched in by my cell of pain, my non-painful life does not exist. Work, play, friends, food, hopes, dreams, YouTube, have gone, all crushed to pulp by my pain. I don’t know what day it is, I don’t know where I have been or where I am going. The pain is like someone jabbing a rusting steel rod up into my root and twisting. I slurp some lukewarm tomato soup and lie in my death bed like a broken, drugged dish cloth.



7am – I have had a few hours sleep. Twice in the night I sat up in bed mournfully eating half a slice of dry bread to line my stomach before taking more painkillers. This morning the pain has clearly decided to branch out, and has spreads its thorned wings to my lower jaw, my ear, my eye socket, my nose. I weep snottily through fears of the antibiotics not getting off their arses to take my pain away.

1pm – I curl weakly in bed clutching an ice pack to my cheek. Every time the ice comes into contact with my skin, the pain instantly fizzles and dies for two glorious, beautiful seconds of pure relief, before roaring back into my face like some sick prank. Electric shocks of pain are now gripping my eye so that it feels like the lower rim of the socket is shattering. Lighting bolts of pain crack along my jawline. My cocktail of codeine and ibuprofen is no longer a match for the pain, serving only to faintly dull it for 20 minutes or so, before giving up and letting the pain grin its hideous grin. Through the blue bars of pain and the doped-up haze of all the drugs, I seriously contemplate stumbling out into the road in my pyjamas and asking someone to drive into me.


7pm – And then… a miracle. The electric shocks are not so intense. The throbbing is not so powerful. The feeling of a rusting steel rod being twisted into my root is not so acute. Could it be that the antibiotics have finally woken up and decided to do their one job???


9am – Instead of spending hours of fitful consciousness writhing in pain, I woke only once to take painkillers. Otherwise I have slept like the dead. I check on the pain. Yep, there it is. But it is a different pain. It is as though the pain in my root above my upper right-hand second premolar has got bored with being above my upper right-hand second premolar, and has wandered off to explore other parts of my face instead. My back lower molars are agony. The bridge of my nose is throbbing. My eye socket – and this is probably my favourite of all the pains, that feeling that the delicate ridge of my eye socket is being drilled by a needle – is bursting with pain. But my upper right-hand second premolar? Not so bad at all, thank you.


2pm – After spending yet more hours in bed, the pain is slowly but surely fading, like a tide going out. A tide of needles, fire, and bombs.

7pm – I manage to eat something that isn’t a) Heinz tomato soup; b) dry white bread; c) my own fist. I haven’t taken a painkiller since 1pm. The drugged wooziness is slowly lifting, leaving in its place an exhausted, crippled shell, like a woodlouse that has fallen asleep in the sun.



10am – I have slept for nearly eleven hours. I take no painkiller. The pain – all the pains – is sinking, all the time sinking. And what commences instead is a spectacular painkiller withdrawal involving me shouting and then crying at two of my best friends, trying to itch the twitching feeling of unrest deep inside me somewhere, and writing ‘Never take up heroin’ on the fridge.

And now, a week on, the pain has all but gone, and the tooth of doom is being whipped out imminently. I want no part of its heinous cruelty anymore. I have been advised that the infection will only return, and that does not interest me one jot, so out it must come.

And what advice can I give you, after going through my journey of pain? Keep the number of your friend with the fastest car next to your bed.


31 thoughts on “Becky says things about … pain

      1. Well, considering my teeth have seen far better days and thanks to a maniac dentist doing a seriously over zealous scale to my teeth a few years ago, I now live in fear of going to the dentist in case all my teeth pop out during a scale. Reading all the comments has done nothing to allay my fears and I now await the day when I develop one of these infections eek!

  1. Good description of pain there – your words and the stick deliver. When I had the pneumonia years ago, I was pretty much just kill me now. I think having a high fever helped because I wrote a lot of blog posts with stick pictures and got a lot of traffic. I was so completely out of it for a while that it was like I didn’t even know what was really happening to me besides trying to bark up a llama through my stomach since my chest had quit working. I am amusing when high I guess? Glad your tooth pain is better. That stuff is awful, and here in the states, most of us have no dental care cause pfft, who cares about that!

    1. ‘Trying to bark up a llama through my stomach’. That is a wonderful description, congratulations 🙂
      I had some seriously weird thoughts whilst on the drugs as well. It was kind of nice but… kind of awful at the same time…

  2. Mmmmmm. An infection. So sexy. I’ve heard that women have a greater tolerance for pain than men do. Cold comfort, I know, but it’s a FACT. There’s an author named William Goldman who wrote a suspense novel called Marathon Man. In it, the evil Nazi is an ex-dentist and tortures people via their cavities. The scenes are about as fun to read as this toe-curling experience.

    1. I know, I felt ultra sexy. Hugely sexy. Sexy sexy.
      My mother also reminded me of Marathon Man. I am aware of that scene. It is horrific and I hadn’t thought about it until now, so thanks very much, you’ve made my tooth throb…

  3. I feel your pain – only with me. it’s earache !

    every morning, for the last two weeks, I’ve thought – ‘bugger it’, I need to see my GP after work”

    then, after work, I think – “hang on a mo. let’s not be hasty. I don’t feel too bad, actually. Perhaps I’m on the mend. I’ll leave it till tomorrow”

    then tomorrow comes and I think “bugger, I should have gone to see my GP yesterday!”

      1. So I’m about to relate my own story, feel free to skip this if you want to.

        My family has bad teeth no matter what we do. So right now I’ve already had one adult tooth pulled (not counting the wisdom teeth) and I’ve broken all four molars. As long as I can (a) eat and (b) stand the pain, no dentist as there’s literally no point. I’ve resigned myself to the fact I’ll be getting dentures at some point because I’ve already spent thousands of dollars to no avail.

  4. Well done. Finding a laugh in such an ordeal takes a remarkable ability to disconnect while observing and then composing an entertaining recounting. You need a book deal. 🙂

  5. Wow! I guess these are the experiences that force us to appreciate our good health when we have it. Sorry you went through all of this though!

  6. You’ve seen Castaway, right? That bit with the iceskate? And when this was going on you TOTALLY UNDERSTOOD (and possibly searched under the bed and the back of the press for a spare skate)?
    Yep. I have been there too. I didn’t even make it to the end of day one, nearly OD’d on random old prescription painkillers I found in my sock drawer, and had to have a friend drive me to the Amercian Primark version of a dentist to have it out that evening. What I remember most was the dentist yelling at me for crying before she even touched me – fuck her. I’d been crying for hours by then! I’d rather the iceskate.

    1. Ugh. I know exactly the Castaway bit you’re talking about. I WISH I’d had an ice skate. I would have done some serious self operating.
      Your dentist yelled at you for crying??!! Can I assume she’s not your dentist anymore??!!

      1. She was NEVER my dentist. It was a huge after hours emergency so I went when it was still open and begged and paid whatever they wanted. I was very OD’d. Worst pain EVER. Closely followed by a kidney infection… Childbirth has nothing on either, because you know that shit will end eventually!

  7. I could barely make it through the post…It’s like the movie Cake with Jennifer Aniston…only much, much worse!
    I’m sorry you had to endure so much cruelty.

    1. Correct!
      I have been HIDEOUS for half this year. Neglected pretty much everything, but a few things have happened in old England over the last few days so I thought I’d have a go at saying things about that…. Watch this space…

  8. I absolutely love your posts, I’ve not had any email reminders for ages so I figured I’d have a look see if you’d been writing, low and behold you had and you entertain me soooo much 🙂

    1. Aww, thanks! I’ve been horrendously lax in recent months – pure silence! – but I’m working on a piece right now so hopefully should say some things very very soon!
      Thank you for your lovely comment! 🙂

  9. Really pleased to stumble across this delightfully amusing take on what sounds like a week of heinous agony. Having just started blogging as, it’s a lovely reminder of the importance of humour,so perhaps I should entitle my next post The Elysian Fields of Croydon and include small photos of its many litter-strewn streets. Do you have any plans for another book?

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