There are a few words or phrases that universally send a shiver down the spine of most people. Examples like Internal Revenue Service, or gerrymandering, or even the never-appreciated advice to calm down.
But I think this month I’ve got those entries trumped with two words I’ve had to utter with great frequency and usually in a sphincter-clenched whisper.
I’d place a bet with high odds that you just shuddered whilst reading them, right?
I’d never had one before, although I knew precisely two people who have—one who refuses to speak of it, and the other who won’t keep quiet. Therefore, my data pool is rather sketch, and I wasn’t sure what to expect when after four days of increasing tooth pain, people began to raise their brows in some knowing gesture and then pre-diagnosed my endodontic needs.
Now I say the phrase “tooth pain” but find the need to course correct that inaccurate description, as distress was initially coming from the area where most of my teeth exist. I think by now we’ve all been exposed to a clickbait headline or two that shrieks of the frightening story of teeth growing in someone’s brain or eye or lung (referred to as teratomas)—not that this was the case—rather, I could not precisely identify the “where.”
The where was sometimes an “I can’t chew on this side,” statement, or a “I think I’ve broken my jaw—does it look broken to you?” question, or even a “why the hell is my eye socket throbbing?” type of demand for answer.
Yeah, not at all helpful to friends and family, but apparently those descriptors fall neatly under the category of “I know what this is, and it’s going to be expensive” to your average dentist.
Visiting an endodontist was not unlike visiting my regular, favorite dentist who is overwhelmingly aware of pain in any manifestation and will work like a gladiator to slay the existence of it, except my endodontist possessed no aware of pain part. Maybe it’s just that the physician who was about to drill into the bone structure of my body had grown tired of telling people, “Aww, it’s not so bad,” because patients come back and egg his office or set his car on fire in the parking lot on their way home.
The whole root canal procedure would not have been half so bad if in the middle of it the endodontist had not said, “Yeah, we gotta stop and do the second half of this in a couple of weeks. I just don’t have enough Novocain.” (Or maybe he said patience, or competence, but I think I recall him mentioning there was a Harry Styles concert he had to get to.)
So, in the interim, I’ve been ginning up by reminding myself that I birthed TWO babies. And the old story women always tell other women who are pregnant for the first time is, “If it was that bad, we’d all be creating “only child” families, right?”
A good number of us are going through the agony of childbirth because we know that at some point we’re going to finally have help with the housework.
A root canal makes no such beneficial promise.
It’s not like I even have at least nine months to eradicate the memory of what I just went through, as half of the problem is still buried beneath a crown sadistically reminding me of what I have to look forward to once the grains of sand run through on my timer. It’s like the ER doc discovering you broke two bones in your arm—both upper and lower—putting a cast on one and tying a yellow ribbon of remembrance on the other so as not to forget where to do the rest of the reparations once he returns from his golf trip to the Bahamas.
The advice of “Remember to take your Advil” does not hold much of a candle to the urge to find the nearest pair of pliers and complete the job oneself. But for the sake of wishing to show my teeth for any future photo shoots and selfies, I shall hold off on any autodidactic dental care for now.
Wish me luck with the fun follow-up, but if none appears on my doorstep, watch this space for part two.
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