Regular readers may have noticed a post entitled Inducing Numbness appear and disappear not once but three times earlier this week. On occasions technology defeats me for reasons I can seldom identify; Monday was one such occasion for which I would apologise if I could guarantee it would never happen again! And something curious seems to be going on where the justification (line spacing et al ) is concerned again so please speed read in such a way that the appearance is swiftly passed over! However sorry for irritating you if indeed I did – I shan’t make excuses but will mention that on that particular evening my poor choppers were extraordinarily painful – the dull gnawing ache that drill relentlessly through the tooth vis the jaw bone ending in the centre of ones ear!
I don’t know what it is about toothache and earache that is somehow sooo much more unbearable than the regular nerve/muscle pain that is part of the fabric of my world. A type of flock wallpaper lining the environment fitting snugly into every crevice with only the odd joint visible. The texture raised slightly allowing even the tiniest jolt to be immediately transmitted to my ever ready exhausted pain receptors – as if they were minuscule sea anemones with gaping mouths buried in the midst of waving tentacles that are oh so adept at capturing each promising molecule to be gobbled, digested and converted into perhaps an ache or a needle sharp dart that swallows my breath momentarily! Oh the diversity of discomfort is quite humbling and utterly phenomenal in its innovation.
For some weeks now I have been limited in what I can comfortably consume especially in public. Chewing and biting has been challenging shall we say but on the upside I have fully explored the potential of the hand-held pulverizer! A fruit soup preceded by a vegetable concoction accessed via a straw to facilitate delivery from the vessel to the back of my mouth avoiding contact with teeth if at all possible; on a point of information should you be a lazy tart like me you may need to sieve the smoothie if you omitted to remove the stones from the stewed fruit before zuzzing away merrily. Only when pouring the viscous liquid from the pan where I had been seeking to obliterate any element likely to require anything more than the most mild of mastication did I notice dark ‘bits’. Hard dark sharp bits to be exact. Curious as the pre-mush state had been plums, peaches and figs hence the attractive strawberry hue. I had heard a few crunches as I had plunged the implement into the pan but put it down to incompetence on the part of the operator; the red pan was a cheap Morrison’s affair already scratched from previous soup making. And then I realised the offending bits were fragments of plum stones (teach me to go straight for the value range – only stew anything with a price in pennies )
So I duly went to the Dentist for a scheduled appointment made in anticipation of follow-up from the Dental Hospital; in fact the receptionist had said she’d contact me if the communication I not been received (presumably so neither of our time would be wasted). To cut to the chase the aforementioned communication had not been received and the Dentist seemed bemused as to why I was there – to put me out of my misery perhaps? Please? I really really really would prefer not to find myself listening to the World Service for a fourth night in a row! Plus to distract myself I seem to have reverted into some teenage Enid Blyton world in the wee small hours, Mallory Towers or St Clare’s where randomly middle class gals indulged in midnight feasts – I’m guessing a nutritionally balanced soya yoghurt or warm almond milk were not in ones tuck box for such emergencies! If only I stopped there ladies but no there are so many other irresistible goodies when trying to distract oneself from toothache or occasionally the ‘disturbed’ sleep associated with one to many of my special lollies!
So the only thing the Dentist could be persuaded to attend to this week was a temporary filling which curiously did not require an injection. As he spoke in tongues to the dental nurse who mixed various pastes which were then poked into the tooth I kept bracing myself for the needle. The numbing wipe thing was applied except of course there was no numbing as there was no anaesthetic in it. After the tooth cavity was full a warm flat thing/palette spoon-shaped was applied to presumably fix the paste in place. And then I waited aware that I resembled someone at prayer as I clasped my hands firmly together. The overhead light was suddenly, or so it seemed, swung out-of-the-way as the Dentist pushed himself into an upright position on his wheely stool. ‘If you give your details to the Receptionist we’ll chase the Dental Hospital’ and with that the Dentist paused before saying ‘did they say anything about what they might do? Because if you need some complex root work then they might do it at the Hospital’. Nothing had been indicated to me at all but I somehow sensed that my Dentist was angling to offload the complex patient as I suspect whatever needs doing to arrest the decay will be difficult and a bit of a long job. No cash cow here sadly! The Dental Business must be a lucrative one as this practice closes for daily for lunch and at midday on Fridays. It is the only dentist I’ve been to where the Dentist himself is often heard gossiping with the receptionist(s) on matters of a domestic nature – supermarket bargains, holiday plans etc. What shocked me most was paying £40 for a temporary filling – without the discomfort of a needle too! Frankly this is one occasion where one expects to experience pain – ironically I left feeling as if I’d been conned rather than having been spared a few hours of dribbling in public!
Later that day I went to a meeting with a colleague and her baby; the baby is beginning to teethe and eager to gnaw away at anything that strays in the vicinity of her tiny chops. No wonder babies cry so much when teething as its their first encounter with toothache – something I’ve only twigged recently. Having discovered Orajet – Bongela for big girls basically – I stormed my way through the meeting with numb lips ( a most odd sensation). of course the ‘advice’ came from the Dental Hospital the next day – when I was once again dodging sheep in the mist in Mid Wales. The letter was wordy enough to merit having written it but without actually saying anything of substance beyond prescribing high fluoride toothpaste! However there was one interesting fact, each of the Fentanyl ‘lolly’s’ contains 1 gram of sugar which is one hell of a calorific addition to ones daily sugar intake! For someone obsessed with limiting my sugar intake this is a tad hard to swallow – quite literally – so once again I find myself in a quandary. Do I continue with the drugs and see if I can retain the remaining teeth or do I brace myself for another round with the Pain Consultant? The prospect of either is exhausting; but the toothache is not pleasant.
This situation takes me back to my days of working in supported housing projects and one particularly memorable client. A young man who had been street homeless for years during which he had become addicted to heroin and other substances as a result of which he had lost most of his teeth. In his post rehab state he had become evangelical in his mission to pass on the wisdom embedded insight. He walked into a conversation I was having with another tenant in the project and without pausing to get the full picture he launched into telling this tenant that he needed to be careful not to overdose whilst being transferred from oral to patch based medication – apparently methadone can make you feel nauseous but the odd few cans of Special Brew would help as long as you didn’t overdo it! Rough diamonds they might have been but they were gems in their own way – the time my flat was burgled they didn’t understand why I declined their kind offer of finding out who’d do the job and getting my stuff back!