Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I think someone edited my letter to Santa

There are a lot of reasons I suck at life, and today I'm going to tell you a story about one.

Once upon a time, a bright eyed, bushy tailed version of myself moved from my hometown in upstate NY to Baltimore, MD, to change the world as a special education teacher. Being young and dumb and confused by the world, it was a tough transition. Eventually though, I became a Maryland citizen, got a library card, found a grocery store, a doctor, and all the other life necessities that one needs.

Except a dentist. At this time, I was living the hip city girl life, basically exactly like Carrie Bradshaw, except wearing flats and solving 6 year olds' arguments about farts rather than writing a sex column. I still kept up with my cleanings, more or less, but bounced around different dentists, trying to find one I liked.

When I got married and moved to the burbs, I knew I needed a new dentist. I hadn't loved that one, and I would also walk the 2.5 miles there through sketchy neighborhoods because it was better than trying to find parking. Now, I was a good 10 miles away, so that was out.

The problem was, I have enough trouble getting motivated to complete time sensitive tasks. Something like "find a dentist" got pushed waaaaay down to the bottom of my to-do list with all the other vague non-deadline items. Plus, going to the dentist sucks, and that wasn't helping.

Then, I started getting a toothache. It gradually hurt more and more, I couldn't chew on that side, etc, etc. I applied my normal method of problem solving, which is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away on it's own. I have about a 50% success rate with this.

Maybe a week and a half ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with throbbing pain all along my gums near the sore tooth. It hurt so bad that I couldn't fall back asleep, and I am really, really good at falling back asleep in the middle of the night. I finally had to take some extra strength Tylenol (I'm not all annoying martyr about it but I hardly ever take pain meds, aside from during/after races).

So, shockingly I was in the 50% of the time where ignoring the problem wasn't working out. Or was I? While my mouth hurt the whole next day, after that, the pain was all gone, like magic! It had worked!

However, I had a sneaking suspicion that things were too good to be true. What got me to finally put on my big girl panties and man up was my recent obsession with Holocaust memoirs. Both stories discussed women in the camps suffering from infected teeth. It prompted me to get my head out of my ass and realize that I'm lucky enough to have dental insurance and a job with sick time and find a freaking dentist before things got even worse.

My friend Kristin recommended her dentist because he was "gentle", and I was sold.  I loved him from the moment I met him. He noted that I checked the "fear of dentists" box on the new patient questionnaire, and asked if it was due to a bad experience. He didn't seem to judge me at all when I explained that I'd had nothing but good experiences, I just have anxiety about needles, medical procedures, pain, and life in general.

He confirmed my suspicion that the problem had not magically gone away. The nighttime pain was the infected nerve attempting to regenerate, and the subsequent lack of pain meant that it had failed, and the nerve was now dead. This is apparently VERY BAD.

I needed a root canal as soon as possible, and until I got the root canal, I would be at risk for an abscess, which would also probably take place in the middle of the night, but would be significantly more painful and more complicated to fix. I can't tell you anything else about what he said because at that point my mind had spiraled down the panic rabbit hole, because:
1. Root canal
2. We're 3 business days out from the holidays, aka a stretch where all dentists will be closed so if this horrible abscess happens I'm totally SOL.

Despite the fact that I had no one to blame but myself and there was no reason the universe should take pity on me, it did, and a root canal specialist is able to fit me in tomorrow.

I thought that was the universe taking pity on me. Until they showed me the $500 bill. That's for me to pay, after insurance has covered their portion. I barely had time to take it in because I'd only gotten a morning sub and I had to rush to work to pick up my class from lunch.

I was so nervous and upset that I was nauseous and didn't eat lunch. That's the first time I can remember being too distraught to eat since my high school boyfriend dumped me when I was 16. Even finding another woman's bra in my college boyfriend's studio apartment after we'd been dating 3 years didn't curb my appetite in the slightest. Quite convenient that this exciting first took place right before a procedure that will most likely render me unable to eat, at least for a short period. No worries though, I was starving by dinnertime.

This really isn't at all what I asked Santa for, but I guess it's what he's getting me, so ready or not, root canal, here I come.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who totally screwed myself with the whole "ignore the problem" genius plan.

I would also like to hear about root canals that were minimally painful and had a quick recovery time. Anything else about root canals just go ahead and keep to yourself.


  1. At first I was going to complain that this post needed pictures or gifs, but you still made me laugh out loud with just your words so obviously I need to take notes.

    Stock up on pudding and ice cream. I hear that helps the healing.

    1. It would have had gifs, but you weren't on gchat to find them for me while I was writing it.

  2. The worst part about the dentist is the bill. I was freaked out about having to have a root canal also, but it was really nothing. They numb's fast, then it's over. They send you home with a prescription for pain pills, but I never even had mine filled. Motrin did the trick. It'll be fine. Don't worry!

  3. Seriously, a root canal is not bad at all! I have had THREE (I like sweets a little too much). The root canal is way less painful than the toothache. Plus, I felt normal the very next day.

  4. Oh darlin, no bueno! Ugh. I've never had a root canal so I'm no help there but I can sympathize on the bill. I swear, medical stuff costs SO MANY DOLLARS.

    By the way, I think you need to write a completely separate post relating to all of those high school and dating stories. Thanks in advance.

  5. Root canals are NOT that painful. I've had 4. The most painful part is holding your jaw open, but a good endontist will give you rest breaks during the procedure so that even that isn't so bad.

    Honestly, you will probably feel MUCH better after than before because you won't have the pain from the infection, which is just about the worst pain ever.

  6. I've had two root canals-one being a result of putting of a visit because I wanted to buy shoes or something. I told the doc I was nervous & it took me a lot to get numb. I got extra shots (yep, plural) & maybe laughing gas? It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be! But milk it anyway!

  7. Ugh I hate going to the dentist, too. And my dentist is my uncle.... it's nothing personal against him and he knows that. I'm glad you're going to get it fixed before it turns into an abscess because I had a friend that had one of those, and it sent her to the ER in the middle of the night. They were all like "why did you come to the ER for a toothache? We can't co anything for you" and she was like "I'M IN THAT MUCH PAIN GIVE ME SOME F-ING PAIN MEDICINE." So you're avoiding that. Merry Christmas! :)

    In all seriousness I hope it goes well and that you get to feeling better afterwards soon. I have no idea what recovery after a root canal is like, but when I had my wisdom teeth out I was alright after a couple of days, and in the interim time I was on some good meds.

    1. Omg, I appreciate the kind words but I was terrified to go to sleep last night because of this story!

    2. OMG I'm sorry! I should have held off until phase 1 of the root canal. At least you DIDNT wake up in the middle of the night with searing pain. Then I would have felt awful! I would have had to come run some middle-of-the-night miles with you during your 100 miler to make it up to you!

  8. I had to get a crown a couple years ago. It was from using my back teeth to open the damn wall flowers from bath and body works. This little shits don't open easily! I cracked my tooth and there was no repair. $500.00 later, I had a better tooth that took months to get just right.

  9. Mine are usually technology related. My computer starts doing wonky things, and probably should be wiped and reloaded with everything, but I'm too busy/too annoyed/too stubborn to actually do anything more than back it up (usually I manage at least that much). I just keep nursing it along, dealing with the strange quirks, error messages, warnings, and the like...until something really disastrous happens - usually when I'm in the middle of doing something REALLY IMPORTANT. So instead of actually handling the problem on my own time, I (and my husband, who gets dragged along because he's better at technology AND has a ring that I gave him, so why not?) end up rushing, cursing, and crying at my computer at all hours of the night. [Clarification: I'm the only one cursing and crying. He's a pretty level headed dude.]

    Speaking of computer HAS been acting a bit funny lately. Blerg...

    1. This is me. And then I get all mad at Eric, like, why aren't you freaking out about our horrible problem like I am? Except it actually has nothing to do with him. I just want everyone to suffer when I suffer.

  10. I've never had a root canal, but my friend had a couple and said they really aren't as bad as the fear mongering would have you believe. It's just the sounds that get you.

  11. Root canals aren't that bad and the one I had was also the result of ignoring a problem. Here's my sad story - I was being a good homeowner one day and decided to re-do the caulk around my tub. Our house is old and slanty, which means that the tub is also slanted and tends to be weirdly slippery. As I was caulking, I ended up slipping in the tub and smashing my face and front tooth into the tiled wall. Even though the pain was excruciating, I thought nothing of it and continued my day as if nothing was wrong. Bad decision.

    A couple of days later, my front tooth turned purple. I decided I should probably go to the dentist and see what was wrong. My dentist told me that I damaged the nerve when I fell, and the tooth turned purple because blood from the nerve drained into it due to my resistance to go to the dentist. I ended up having to have a root canal to kill the nerve and then I had to get a crown placed on my front tooth because my tooth would never be white again.

    Sadly, I didn't have dental insurance at the time, so I ended up getting a $2000 bill for the work. It would have been way cheaper to hire someone to caulk the tub.

  12. I hope your scary tale does not give me nightmares.

    But seriously, I have had two root canals and they are no big deal. As others have said, the bill is the worst part. Lucky you to have any dental insurance at all. If I ever need another one, I'd probably have to mortgage my soul to the devil to pay for it...

    Good luck... you'll be chowing down on anything in no time!!

  13. Um, I haven't found a dentist here in TX and we moved in 2010...I suck at these grown up life things.

  14. What everyone else is saying! I've had fillings done that were infinity times more painful than my root canal. I was probably as terrified as you, but you get all numbed up and then you get some sweet pain pills (which I didn't really need but took anyway because I like pills) and it's really no big deal. The worst part is having to sit in that chair for hours and hours. Bring an ipod or something.

  15. Nooo! No root canal here, but I've had cavities. I was a good patient and had regular dentist cleanings in nj with the last one being in feb 2012 right before we moved. I was cocered right away but didn't find a new one in ca until june 2013 and a cavity was awaiting me, as well as loads of shame for not flossing enough. Moral: I floss more now. The $500 bill sucks especially right before xmas :( quick, sign up for a health savings account for tax-free medical expenses?? Off to read your next post and see how it turned out.

  16. It ain't too bad, heh. Going to the dentist seems sometimes a chore, and costs can be a problem. But it's always a good thing to really step up and take on a problem like you did, with all the frailties and the shortcomings the process is bound to expose. Though at least you are getting there. Persistence, after all, is its own reward. Especially in how it arrests, say, physical malaise.

    Barry @ Gateway Mini Dental Implants


Thanks for commenting! Comments make me probably more happy than they should.