Tag Archives: Tooth

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.

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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.

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Saturday

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.

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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:

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Sunday

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.

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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.

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Monday 

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.

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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???

Tuesday

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.

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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.

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Wednesday

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.

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Becky says things about … the dentist

I sit here before you, most ardently listening Listener, with a metal rod in my face.

No, I have not developed a penchant for elaborate facial piercings, or become involved in a vicious dispute with a steelworker – I have been to the dentist.

The dentist, Listener. The Tooth Attacker, the Oral Bandit, the Face Raider. Or, if you’re so disposed, the Smile Saviour, the Dental Happiness Lord, the Ivory Saint. Whatever you want to call them, a trip to the dentist is never enjoyable and always fraught with discomfort, humiliation and involuntary loss of dignity.

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The trip gets off to a bad start. The dentist’s chair itself is impossible to enter in a decorous manner.

‘Please take a seat,’ the dentist said to me yesterday.

‘Yeah, right,’ I thought, as one look at that chair told me that carrying out this simple task wouldn’t be calamity-free. Reclined like a lilo on a choppy sea, and flanked by table-like arms containing an evil plethora of lethal instruments, protruding wires, and stacks of highly expensive, breakable equipment, the only method of taking that kindly proffered seat was to perform a strange and ungainly backward shuffle, involving my bottom pointing obnoxiously towards the dentist’s face, a little jump over the arched seat, and an impact of my bottom with the chair that sounded like a hippo fainting.

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Then you’ve got to open your mouth. As wide as is humanely possible, wider than the anatomical limitations of your jaw will allow – but you’ve still got to do it.

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No one wants to have  someone peer intently at a part of their body and make a judgement. No one. True, every day we may think ‘He could drop a few pounds,’ or ‘She desperately needs to dye her hair’, but we have neither the tools, the mental determination, nor the social permission to carry out these physical alterations on another human being at whim.

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A dentist, on the other hand, has all those things. A dentist can peer into your mouth, think to themselves ‘Hmm… I’d much prefer upper 13 to be filled with lovely porcelain’ or ‘That faintly discoloured second molar would look far better round my neck’, and then say words to you that you don’t understand but that you know are bad words, and what’s more, you MUST OBEY THEM.

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For who are you to question them? Who are you to disagree when a trained professional tells you that if you don’t have your root replaced with a metal rod, your tooth will rot, crumble, explode soon after, and leave you in crippling pain and with unsightly swelling for life? Unless you have the knowledge to match theirs – and, as a very wise woman once said, ‘No one has the dental knowledge to match that of a dentist apart from another dentist’ – you really are in no position to quibble.

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So once this master of your mouth has decided which particular horrendous procedure they wish to perform on you, there begins a depressingly degrading process.

Your mouth will be sufficiently numbed so that your lips feel like whale blubber. Pneumatic drills will be forced into your face – the sound of a steel tip breaking down your precious pearly whites will haunt you for days – and a sullen, silent assistant will suck up your uncontrollably gushing saliva with a small vacuum cleaner. And that is perhaps the worst thing of all: the silent judgement of the dental assistant.

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Halfway through you may be ordered to rinse. There is that slow, terrible, saliva-filled journey as the back of the chair is made upright (no journey is ever so painfully lengthy), and you swirl an unidentified liquid round your deadened mouth, dribbling 90% of it down your chin like a mumbling, toothless old drunk, and what you hope will be a clean-cut spit into the basin turns into a half-wretch, half-fling of stringy phlegmy liquid that dangles from your lips like the wretched futility of your blackened soul.

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Then the prodding, the drilling, the sawing starts again. I had the second part of root canal treatment yesterday, and at one point I had what felt like a metal spear rammed so far into my upper gum that I felt it nudging my eye socket. My eye socket, Listener. Not content with assaulting the lower half of my face, this dentist attacked the upper part as well.

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And when you’ve been speared, stabbed, suctioned and dentally abused to within an inch of your sorry life, you must go through the dribbling rinsing process again, and then comes the hilarious punchline in this protracted and traumatic sick joke:

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You leave a broken, bloodied, bankrupt woman, a rod in your face, one side of your mouth hanging lower than your knees, and to top it all off, an ill-timed and premature sip of water on the bus results in you dribbling all of it down yourself in front of four disapproving elderly ladies.

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So I am left with a rod in my face, a filling the size of Finland, and a severely diminished dignity.

All offers of sympathy / empathy / cash are most welcome.

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Filed under Life eh?, Mishaps, Rants, The Beauty of Life, Thoughts and Musings