Friday, February 8, 2008

This is Your Blog on Drugs

That's what I was going to call this blog, anyway. It turns out the prescription painkillers I was prescribed did almost nothing for me. Oh, well.

I was brushing my teeth last week when suddenly a piece of my molar fell off. Well, it more or less peeled off. That's what you get for ignoring your cavities, kiddies. I officially feel like a southwestern hillbilly. Luckily I had two days left of insurance from my previous job in which to have a dental adventure.

I'm petrified of the dentist. Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who wants to spend their lives inside other people's mouths is either a nut job or a sadist or both. Of course, I have to make the exception for my boyfriend's mum, a dental hygienist, who is one of the nicest people I've ever met. We called her that night at around 1am to find out what we should do, and she didn't even complain about the hour. In any case, I just don't understand the profession, and most of the tools I see in the office resemble torture devices from spy movies. (Remember that tooth-pulling torture guy from Alias? Seriously. Imagine that guy giving you a root canal and that's what I picture every time someone says "dentist.")

I've sort of known for months that I needed a root canal, actually. The molar in question has been in pain for years, following what I think was a botched filling. The dental industry has had so many opportunities to redeem itself, but is constantly failing. This particular incident was in November 2004 - I had three fillings done and, not only did 8 shots of Novocaine not numb me while drilling, the fillings hurt constantly for several months. And it wasn't just a little ache, or a sensation when eating hot or cold. It was a constant throbbing, blinding pain in my teeth.

I called the dentist and she prescribed a painkiller (it was acetaminophen-based, but I don't remember what the naughty stuff in it was. Not codeine, though, since I was too busy in college to be taking anything that would render me useless), which, as per usual, did nothing. I put myself on a regimen of Excedrin, taking two or three pills every four hours, including a dose at bedtime to avoid waking up in excruciating pain (this almost always failed). By January or February I was no longer in constant pain, but still had regular toothaches. Even years later that one molar always bothered me, but I just thought that, with my history of panic and anxiety, it could be psychosomatic.

When a brown spot appeared on the tooth — followed by a crack — I knew I was wrong. So last week when the tooth just finally broke, I wasn't so much shocked but angry that I'd let my fear of dentists get the better of me.

Seriously, though. The dentist guy from Alias. So scary.

So I've got a temporary filling in place and will be getting a crown on Tuesday. I'm not happy about it, but seeing as the only real pain I've had so far from the root canal is from chewing up my own cheek (and let me tell you, that is some serious pain), I'm feeling better about it. But, you know, if I'm going to be doing this whole dental thing on a regular basis, I'd better at least get some fun drugs out of it.