Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The poker, the scraper, the gouger

After a solid imperial decade-long break, I have returned to the dentist. Actually, I went to the dentist three months ago or so, because my teeth were rotting out and the pain finally became too much to stand. I basically had three states of being - asleep, plastered, or in agonizing pain. Since I’m a teacher, not a pyramid scam participant or a camaraman or a fireworks salesman or a delivery driver (or any other of my many illustrious occupations), a perpetual state of drunkenness at work simply wouldn’t do, thus the agonizing pain portion lasted far too long, upwards of six hours a day. So I went to the dentist, and he discovered two massive cavities (my first!) on the right side of my mouth. One (by far the more painful of the two) was in a wisdom tooth, which was pretty much on the verge of splitting in half. Right away he shot me up with novocain and popped that puppy out. Strange stuff, novocain, and my first experience with that as well. Here I have a tooth so sensitive that it can’t handle lukewarm coffee, and I’m awake and perfectly aware how much my tooth should be hurting, yet it doesn’t as he twists and prods at it with hooks and claws and whatever else. I just had to pay him 9 bucks (gotta love universal health care) and promise not to eat, drink, or smoke for two hours.

I asked about the other tooth, which I knew had severe problems as well, as it was so jagged on the side that I could almost cut my tongue with it. It’s not a wisdom tooth, so yanking it wasn’t an option. He told me I needed a root canal (fuck!) and that we should get started right away, but while treatment is dirt cheap, a wisdom tooth requires a crown that costs $300. That’s for the cheapest crown, and I may want to splurge for at least the second-cheapest crown. I’ve got class, after all. The other tooth, jagged condition that it may be in, didn’t particularly hurt, and paying for a crown at that time would have severely damaged my Philippines budget. Needless to say, when faced with the choice between almost preventative (remember, little to no pain in that tooth) dental care or money to splurge on beachside rum, you know which way that’s going.

This week, the lack of pain was gone. That is to say, last Friday at work, my tooth caused such a massive level of pain that I honestly thought I was going to throw up. The waves of pain radiating off of this tooth on the right side of my mouth pulsed from my left ear to my shoulder. Sometimes I couldn’t hold my head up. It was unreal. The weekend came and the dentist was closed, but I did manage to keep myself pretty liquored up, so I never ran into anything like Friday afternoon again, but I knew the time had come to return to the dentist. For my root canal. Fuck.

After failing to get an appointment Monday, I went Tuesday. The place is called, hilariously/ironically London Dentist. Fortunately, the dentist speaks pretty much flawless English, much better than other doctors I’ve had here, like my urologist. Er, I mean, chiropractor. At least the chiropractor provides happy endings.

The root canal takes a few sessions to do, but each are amazingly short. In the first, on Tuesday, I started with more novocain, and then he put a sheet over my head with a mouth hole, and got to prodding, scraping, and drilling. Holy hell is it odd to have somebody drilling while conscious. I would have much rather been gassed, but I had to be at work in an hour. So pretty much, I was paralyzed in fear throughout the ordeal, but couldn’t feel a thing. It was all over in 10 minutes, and then I went to work on more drugs than I’ve been on at work since my Kwik Shop days.

The dentist told me that the drugs last 24 hours, so I figured I shouldn’t drink at all on Tuesday night. Strangely, I think I became a bit addicted to the novocain. As it was wearing off late Tuesday night, I couldn’t concentrate on anything for more than a minute or two, I kept touching my face, I ate like 20 mini Dove bars (with the left side teeth) and smoked like 400 cigarettes, yet still had a feeling like something was missing physically, like I was on a transcontinental flight or something. I suppose as long as I can avoid the novocain pushers on every street corner in this town, I’ll be fine there.

I returned to the dentist today. This time, no drugs were needed, he said, and we started right away. There was still really no pain, but basically ten minutes of pure terror. I’m on the chair, and he’s poking and scraping and gouging, and I never know exactly what will happen next, and then I hear what sounds like a welding torch flaming up, followed by a “be very still, this will be hot.” Fortunately, he was just melting something to stick in my teeth rather than actually using a flame thrower on me, but the not knowing and terror is almost worse than anything else. I’d almost prefer the dentist starting the session by punching me in the face. Even if it doesn’t knock me out, at least it would give me something to think about.

Anyway, I go back tomorrow. Hopefully, for the last time, at least for another 10 years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Now that you're approaching the big 3-0, it's time you consider taking care of yourself.