Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Drill, Baby, drill!"

No, I'm not actually talking about the Obama administration's energy policy - although that IS a scintillating topic these days - but rather my teeth and the two visits to the dentist (three, actually) in a mere two weeks. Sigh.
One of my biggest fears is going to the dentist. Ever since I was a kid, I had not-so-great teeth. Genetics actually did play a role, I can blame this partly on my mom. Plus, I don't know how anyone can go to the dentist without fear after seeing even just a snippet of "Marathon Man"! Talk about combining some of my deepest fears in one movie! It didn't help, however, that my fear and loathing of everything teeth-related drove me far away from dentists for several years (or a decade). A few years ago, I decided that since I have insurance, it makes no sense to not take care of my teeth, especially as I get older. Also, the stress dreams about my teeth shattering provoked me into some sort of action.
So, last week I went to the dentist to have old fillings re-filled (they were probably 25-years-old, but I had no idea that you had to re-do fillings!). I was very impressed with how calm I was throughout the process, and I didn't harbor ill feelings towards the dentist, even though I bit my almost-still-numb-tongue while eating dinner and had a huge wound on it for a few days. Gross, I know.
I didn't think about the nagging pain for most of last week, and I was adept at pretending that my headache all weekend wasn't caused by a toothache. I know what it means when one has a serious toothache at this point: Root canal, baby! Yesterday afternoon, however, I broke down and called the dentist about the pain. I woke up this morning not feeling so much pain, but I still went to the dentist, who then referred me to a specialist. I was supposed to call the specialist ASAP, but since the pain wasn't quite so bad, I decided that I didn't *really* need to see him/her. Until around noon, when the pain kicked right back where it had left off. Dull, throbbing, causing an earache and a headache, pushing up into my brain so that all I could think about was: PAIN.
Ugh. Made the call, they gave me an emergency appointment at 5:00, I took some tylenol with codeine (don't most people have that hanging around the house?) and got through the afternoon quite fine. I almost finished grading some papers too! By 5:00, I had convinced myself that the tooth wasn't so bad, but I did go to the specialist (endo-something) quite cheerfully because I didn't think that anything would actually HAPPEN today.
Ha ha ha. That's a funny thought, in retrospect. He looked at my tooth, poked around, and then told me that I needed a root canal. Duh. I knew that, but I just hadn't wanted to accept it. I asked about an appointment next week, and he informed that he would be out of town. He then delivered the final punch - "You can do it now or you can do it in three weeks, but the result is going to be the same."
So, 45 minutes and several hundred dollars later, I had a dead nerve, a puffy mouth, and a sense of relief that I had acted somewhat like a grown-up and had actually taken care of myself.
I will say, however, that while my fear of dentists and dentistry has not increased over the past few weeks, I am okay if I don't go back to the dentist for a while. A loooonnnnggg while.
That, unfortunately, is not in my future since I have at least two appointments in the next four weeks. Sigh.


Kim said...

You know, I've just recently decided I hate the dentist. They found 6 (!) potential cavities, and filled two of them at my last appointment (which was the day before my New Orleans trip, when I was already frazzled as all hell). I don't like numb face. I don't like my teeth being messed with. I hadn't had a cavity since I was, like, 5. Oh well. it's good to take care of the teeth and all... and, if you were having pain, I'm sure you're relieved to have it eased! I hope your dentist is at least nice and all. Mine is scary.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kristina, I can relate to this more than you know! Only recently have I had so many dental issues. It is a mystery why. I feel like I am single-handedly keeping my dentist in business. I hope that you are on the road to recovery!!

I do feel special that I am in your "most impressive" category. You are clearly once of the smartest people I know so I am honored!!