I have been suffering with a toothache this week; a horrible, awful toothache. It seems that a root canal I had when I was in my 20s has now come back to haunt me.

A year ago, my current dentist thrust my X-rays in front of my face and made a dire prediction: “You know, you’re eventually going to have problems with this tooth here,” he said, pointing to the cause of my current misery. “The dentist who did this root canal didn’t get your whole root. See here???” I pretended to look at what he was pointing to, but really I wasn’t listening as he explained about root tips and incomplete root canals, etc, etc, etc. Instead, I was recalling the dentist who gave me that root canal. The very handsome dentist. The dentist who I credit with completely curing me of dentist phobia.

When I was 28 years old I lost a filling in a tooth. Not having a regular dentist at the time, I picked one out of the Austin phone book and made an appointment, thinking I would just need to have the filling replaced. No big deal. The next day, I was sitting in the dentist’s chair when in walked one of the handsomest men I had ever seen. He flashed a dazzling smile at me and introduced himself. I fell instantly in love and made vow, right then and there, to schedule regular visits with this guy. Cleanings, whitening, straightening – whatever they offered. After reviewing my X-rays, Dr. Handsome informed me that I needed a root canal. My face must have registered instant fear, because he patted my hand and said “No need to worry. The horror stories you’ve heard are no longer true. Root canals are no big deal these days!”

True to his word, the handsome doctor performed a painless root canal on my tooth. It was so painless, I went out for a run afterwards. The only pain I ever felt was to my pocketbook, but after shelling out a few hundred bucks, I had a tooth that was as good as new. Plus a handsome new dentist. I scheduled those regular cleanings and continued to see (and lust after) Dr. Handsome for the next few years. Everything he did was painless and easy. I actually looked forward to going to the dentist twice a year.

Fast forward 20 years to my current (and not nearly as handsome) dentist predicting the failure of Dr. Handsome’s work. “Not possible.” I thought, dismissing his predictions, “Not Dr. Handsome!” But sadly it now appears he was right after all. My tooth began to hurt on Wednesday. By Thursday it was becoming unbearable and I went to the dentist. By Thursday afternoon it was confirmed: The tooth was infected, and now I needed a specialist to fix the incomplete root canal Dr. Handsome gave me. Of course, as luck would have it, it appears to be Vacation Time for Endodontists, and I’m not even going to be able to schedule an appointment until Monday.

In the meantime, I have a fairly large supply of pain medication and DVDs. I lurch from bed to couch in a synthetic opiate haze. I sleep a lot.

Pain is a horrible thing. It consumes your whole being. It makes you irrational and desperate. Pain even causes people to take their own lives.

Right now though, I’d settle on killing Dr. Handsome.


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