My lovely friend Emily has been nagging me about getting my achey tooth fixed for months. And, yes, my tooth has been achey for months, but in a very low-level way, like the way your muscles ache the day after you’ve had cramp, or lots of sex.
So I’ve put up with it, got used to it, ignored it, because the last time I tried to have it taken out – the one thing everyone who sees it does agree on is that there’s no saving this tooth – the dentist couldn’t get in enough local anaesthetic to do the job, because of my pathetic post-chemo gums. So I had five hours of a numb and painful face but no extraction. Sedation makes me weird and doesn’t work either. General anaesthetic, as you know from yesterday, wasn’t an option when I lived in London.
So I’ve put up with the low level of pain in the hope that eventually my mouth will heal enough for a local anaesthetic to work. But on Friday, low level of discomfort became raging, galumphing agony, and so the time to get the tooth fixed is now.
(At this point you might be thinking, for heaven’s sake, woman, you’ve had a cancer removed, you’ve had chemotherapy and a robot arm and two children the traditional way and nobody likes the dentist, pull yourself together: I agree. I totally agree that I should just take a deep breath and let someone yank the wretched thing out on the once-it’s-done-it’s-done principle. Agreed, agreed. Until I get in there, and feel so vulnerable and cowed and all of the crappy dental experiences I’ve had over the last few years crowd in. And the smells and the way everything sounds strange because the source of the noise is inside your mouth…I admit, I get pathetic, and feel susceptible to anxiety, and a bit panicky. It’s as though the dentist is the place where all the fear and worry I pushed away from cancer treatment feels it can come out, and it does. Also, when you’re at the dentist you can’t really have a stick to bite on.)
So, I’ve spent the weekend managing the pain with a don’t-try-this-at-home mix of paracetamol, ibuprofen, ibuprofen/codeine, sleeping tablets, things with custard, and fingers of 12 year old The Glenlivet. Unsurprisingly, given this cocktail, I haven’t felt up to much and I haven’t done much, but I have discovered that Northumberland has a general anaesthetic dental service. This morning, I am seeing my doctor to talk about a referral and antibiotics. (I’m fairly sure that the tooth is infected, on the basis that it feels exactly the same way it did the last time I was in this much pain, and it was infection then.) I have every confidence in my doctor, and also, in my relentless-niceness approach.
If things don’t go as I hope, I’ll just have to bring in Emily.