Saturday, February 28, 2009

Much Altered State

Since my last post I’ve been a non-blogger and all due to pain and drugs.

Several weeks ago I noticed a crack across the top of my rearmost bottom left molar in my much undersized mouth. The cracked tooth bothered me at times, especially when eating, so my dentist and I decided it was time to take action. Over two visits she drilled it down to size, and slapped a crown on it.

For a week it seemed fine. But then, it started to throb. I asked her to go ahead and do a root canal, something we had wanted to avoid since it was so far back in my little bitty mouth.

Doing her thing, she Roto-Rootered out the nerves in the molar’s roots, but only after working very hard to remove the week old crown. To do this she used a kind of dental slide hammer. Placing the hooked pointy end of it under the edge of the metal crown, she then sharply slammed the slide hammer to its up stop, putting tremendous force on the entire tooth, and on the entire jaw for that matter.

Of course, she did this only after injecting a healthy dose of Lydocaine. I always tell my dentists not to scrimp when it comes to anesthesia. I GOTS to have it numb Baby!

Unfortunately, the brand new cement holding that crown tightly in place was some strong stuff. She slammed that slide hammer again and again, but the crown would not budge. She would move it around to different edges of the crown, hook it in, slam it, check it, and then do it again. Each time she did it, I could feel the smashing pressure of it all the way to the base of my neck. She did this probably close to 20 times before the crown finally came loose. Even then it took another half dozen more upward smashing thumps to knock it completely loose from the molar.

I’m sure the extended violence it took to remove that recalcitrant crown is what caused the throbbing pain to take over “my entire world” as soon as the anesthesia wore off a couple hours later. She had warned me that the root canal itself was going to require the continued use of analgesics, but for no more than a day or two; so that’s what I thought was causing the thudding ache for the first 2 or 3 days.

But I’ve had root canals before and this pain was different. It didn’t resolve, and in fact got worse and worse. Nothing I took helped, and that includes Tylenol, Advil, Naproxen, and anything else I could get my hands on, except for a couple of wonderfully effective Percosets that I happened to have lying around (thanks to a buddy). The problem is that two was not nearly enough.

After a day or two of that, mind numbing desperation and despair set in. After a pleading call to the dentist she agreed to see me over the weekend. She met me at the door Saturday morning and her first remark after seeing my pinched face was “You look terrible.”

I told her I felt terrible as I slid hopefully into the dental chair. She examined her handiwork, but could see nothing out of the ordinary. She took an X-ray, but it revealed no hidden infection, as confirmed by the fact that there was no tell-tale swelling. I already knew by this time that it was irritated nerves, probably some kind of neuritis from the trauma sustained during the hammering I took on that crown during my last dental visit.

Monday morning I had Divine take me into the Mercedes Medical Center, the local Tricare hospital. We used a driver since I was in no condition to operate a vehicle myself, and like most Filipinos, Divine doesn’t know how to drive. At Mercedes Doctor Arcebido confirmed my own suspicions, declaring that the pain was neuropathic.

I nodded agreement, “Yes Sir Doc, I was already pretty sure of that. I just want relief. What kind of good drugs can you prescribe for me? Because right now I can’t sleep and I can’t eat. I want this pain to stop. Please, whatever you prescribe, make it strong!”

Humoring me, he grinned and nodded, and wrote out an RX for two meds—one for pain and the other to relax the jangled nerves.

Once home, hoping for at least some level of relief, blessedly, within 10 minutes of taking the two pills the pain subsided and I fell sound asleep. Oh it’s still there, waiting just beneath the surface; because as soon as the meds start to leave my system the pain springs right back into my jaw; although now, I think it might be resolving. I hope it’s not just wishful thinking. I’m not exactly sure—I don’t wait too long after it re-rears its angry ugly head before I pop more pills to drive it back into its dark cave where I much prefer it.

I hate pain. It’s like a living thing when you have a lot of it, especially when it persists day after day without let up. It takes over your consciousness. It becomes the center of your life. It’s horrible.

On the other hand, since I began taking my prized pills their side effects have made it impossible to be able to go into the office. The side effects include a little nausea, and a whole lot of sleepy wooziness. I have a hard time concentrating, and just trying to walk the few steps to the bathroom I look like a drunken sailor. It’s only now that I am learning to function through “the fog,” at least enough to get some things done, like right now.

And on that note, come hell or high water, I’m determined to get my butt back into the office on Monday (I hope); although I’ll probably have to have someone drive me in. I certainly can’t operate my scooter or my car like this. I’ve been feeling uneasy, having left Pete, my heroic fellow volunteer counterpart, in a bit of a pickle since the beginning of all this jaw aching mayhem.

Am I done? I think I am. I’m not sure. Anyway, let’s call it done and post it. I just thought maybe some people checking out my blog might want to know what happened to me. I’m still here, just not reading and writing much, and in a “much altered state.”


Ed said...

Hopefully it gets better soon. I've not had the pleasure of a root canal and have only had two cavities and after reading this, I would like to keep it that way.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you were in that kind of's an awful place to be. xo

PhilippinesPhil said...

Wow, perfect teeth almost. Good for you. From the time I was 8 or 9 I averaged 7 or 8 cavities a year. Just one of my many faults.

Thanks darling. I knew if any one was going to offer sympathy it would be you.

KA said...

pain meds are great... no? I'll be on a few post-surgery.

As for my Ex, he was both a liar and a thief. As far as I know, he's not a rapist though...

PhilippinesPhil said...

Well, at least thats SOMETHING. Not much of a character qualifier though-- least he's NOT a rapist! grin...

KA said...

Hey, if I lower my standards, the field becomes wide open, right?

PhilippinesPhil said...

I agree. And I thank goodness that my girlfriend has such low standards!

But hey, here's my qualifiers, I'm not a rapist, not a thief, and I don't lie (much)...