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My mouth hurts

Posted by Mick on March 10, 2010 – 10:16 pm

Now every tooth in my head hurts.  Is that fair?

For those of you who are just getting to this party, here’s what’s happened so far.

I have a genetic pre-disposition to dental problems.  I have a pathological fear of dentists, which leads me to eschew regular visits to the dentist.  I have only rarely had dental insurance.  All of which is to say, I gots bad teeth.

This weekend, I started noticing some pain in one of my back molars.  It’s one that I’ve known was going south, but when I wanted to fix it I didn’t have the money, and though I’ve had insurance for a while now, I’ve been procrastinating going to the dentist.

I can do without the lectures on how I should have been more diligent in going to the dentist.  I know this.  Did you notice my choice of words earlier?  Pathological fear of dentists.  Pathological.  Of, relating to, or manifesting behavior that is habitual, maladaptive, or compulsive.

The sad thing is that it’s self-fulfilling.  Every time I do go to the dentist, it’s a painful experience.  The fact that it’s my fault doesn’t change the effect.  The pain reinforces the fear.  But anyway…

This weekend I noticed the pain.  I decided to deal with it now, rather than procrastinating.  This was progress, believe me.  Previous me would have held off until the pain was unbearable.  Made the appointment, went in as scheduled, they acted like they’d never seen me before (it’s been maybe 2 years) and made me re-fill out all the paperwork.

They took some x-rays, because they always take x-rays.  The dentist came in, poked some metal things in my mouth, and then he broke the news.  The tooth was beyond saving.  I was not surprised.  It’s been expected.  That doesn’t mean I was happy about it, you understand, I’m just mature enough to accept the consequences of my own behaviors.

Then they said I might have to wait.  Even though they had my insurance card, even though they had called and confirmed that the insurance was valid, they couldn’t do a procedure because the computers at the head office hadn’t attached my insurance to my account.  Whatever that means.  I informed them that if they didn’t treat me today, I didn’t know when I’d come back.  I blamed that on my job, but I think we both know that if I left, I’d find some good reasons to procrastinate.  Hell, my job makes it easy to procrastinate.  Within a few minutes, a phone call had rectified the situation and I was ready to have my procedure.

I will say this for my teeth.  What they lack in the enamel department they make up for in the root department.  They don’t go easy.  The dentists did a nice job of getting me numbed to the point I didn’t feel any pain during the procedure.  That’s not the issue for me.  The pulling and pressure and strain of the roots trying to stay planted in the jaw.  The breaking of the tooth into pieces.  – these are the things of my nightmares.  Pain is pain.  I don’t like pain, but I can bear pain.  I’ve lived with pain since I was 16.  I believe it was the noted philosopher Dalton who said it best: Pain don’t hurt.  Terror is a completely different animal.

When I get in that chair, I experience a terror that is like nothing I can explain.  I can deal with it, I don’t scream and run like a child.  But I want to run.  I want nothing more than to scream NO at the top of my lungs, jump out of the chair, throw the dentist against the wall, and run.

And I never run.  Ask anybody who knows me.  I walk, I saunter, I might even prance, but I never run.

And that’s how we got here.  The physical pain hasn’t been fun, but it’s not that bad.  I made it through the workday with no pain meds.  The psychic pain has been worse.  I should be all better tomorrow, but it’s been a rough 24 hours.  And now, all my teeth hurt.  I understand the mechanisms that are causing this.  Physically, my muscles are sore from the pressure and the pulling, my jaw is aching from the violation, and of course this has aggravated my TMJ issues.  Did I forget to mention the TMJ?  That’s also inherited.  I don’t grind my teeth as bad as my Mother, but I do get all the jaw popping fun!  Have I digressed again?  Oh yes, I’ve digressed.

Physically, my mouth hurts, and that’s spread out over the whole mouth.  Psychically, I’m very “aware” of my teeth right now, and feeling each and every bit of the sensations in my mouth that get lumped in to the generic pain.  It’s a type of hypochondria rebound for a person who habitually tunes out pain.

Lest this all sound like a whiny bitch session, I will end the evening commenting on the wonderful medication I’ve received.  Much like the physical pain and the psychic pain, I’ve had the physical medicine and the psychic medicine.  My psychic medication has been provided by my lovely and talented wife.  My comfort food after the tortures of dentistry is potato soup, something else I inherited from my mother.  Tara found a great recipe for potato soup, went to the grocery store on her way home, and prepared a large pot of it for me last night.  Then tonight, she made me chocolate pudding.  Not that instant crap, either, I’m talking about real, cooked on the stove top pudding.

Love beats terror.  That’s a fact.

Be good to each other.

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