*smack* Hurts, don’t it?
As painful as that joke might be it is nothing compared to what has been going on in my mouth these past few days. I had a tooth start bothering me a couple of weeks ago so I went to visit the dentist. S/He advised that the tooth I was complaining about had previously been subjected to a root canal so I shouldn’t be experiencing any problems there. S/He speculated it was probably just a bit of an infection and prescribed antibiotics. And also filled three cavities.
So this Tuesday the tooth with no nerve began hurting like a motherfucker. I could knock the pain down for a couple of hours at a time by taking heavy doses of Advil and/or Tylenol. I even used some of Jee Yeun’s prescription pain pills left over from her shoulder surgery but they didn’t help much either. After a mostly sleepless night, I went back in to see Dr. Sohn. S/He once again diagnosed an abscess below the tooth, did a little leveling off of said tooth to even my bite, and prescribed more antibiotics.
Wednesday night was also mostly sleepless and pain-wracked and Jee Yeun, bless her heart,
got sick of hearing my whinging hated to see me suffer so she insisted I visit the dental clinic down the street. When we hit the street at 10:00 a.m. it looked like a scene from a disaster movie. Throngs of people pushing and shoving to get into a massive line of jam packed buses. Never seen anything like that so I immediately figured something must be up with the subway. It was. Fortunately, we were walking to the dentist so we were able to observe the madhouse without actually participating in it.
Jee Yeun told me this dentist is very famous and related to the family in some distant way and that people come for all over the country for his services. She stressed we had to get there early to get on the list of walk-ins. When we arrived there were 3 folks ahead of us, which didn’t seem too bad. And then the receptionist came out and apologetically announced that the doctor would not be in until 3:00 p.m. Apparently he was doing some charity work that morning which is admirable, although it did not reduce the ache in my tooth in the slightest.
Back to the apartment for more aspirin and the brief interludes of comfort it provided. I had also been applying heat in the form of a damp towel microwaved to a level of warmth right below that used for skin removal. I don’t know if it helped, but it didn’t hurt. Jee Yeun insisted I should be applying cold to the tooth. I explained that Dr. Sohn had specifically advised me to apply heat and s/he said that people who used cold were doing it wrong. Armed with info she found on the internet Jee Yeun called the dentist’s office to say that heat wasn’t working. Shortly thereafter Dr. Sohn called my phone and asked how I was doing. “I’ve been better” I truthfully responded. S/He suggested I return to her office the following afternoon and she would remove my crown to try and relieve “pressure”. By this point I was ready to tell her to just yank the damn thing out altogether and be done with it.
Meanwhile I’d gotten a text asking me to sub on a team in the Thursday night dart league. I was inclined at first to decline given my condition but then I figured if I was going to suffer regardless I may as well suffer doing something I enjoy. The pain was in an aspirin induced remission when I got on the subway, but by the team we reached Samgakji station the tooth was screaming again. So I ate some Advil dry and continued on to the Bull and Barrel. The dentist had advised me not not drink while taking the antibiotics and I had pushed back a little asking “why?” S/he gave me some bullshit about making the body weaker so as not to be able to fight the infection. So, I hadn’t been drinking and I ordered up a diet Coke at the bar but for the record it was only because I didn’t feel like drinking not some whacky doctor’s orders.
By the time I had finished my second Coke the pain had again subsided and the dart match was ready to begin. I prefer to play darts while maintaining a finely tuned chemical balance that provides a maximum level of confidence and relaxation. Achieving this state of mind normally requires the consumption of beer, so I ordered up a Cass. It tasted good and went down smooth so I had another. And another.
Now, it could be that the antibiotics finally kicked in and killed that nasty infection. Or it could be Cass beer contains some unadvertised healing powers. All I know is that I slept through the night for the first time in days. I awoke pain free and have been pain free ever since.
Which leads me to the point I wanted to make when I sat down to write this overly-long post. Pain sucks. I have zero tolerance for pain. That pain can even be allowed to exist in the 21st century strikes me as being particularly inhumane. Pain I think is very subjective and very personal. No one else can feel your pain nor can you feel theirs. So, how does one truly measure pain. When someone says “I have a high tolerance for pain” I don’t think they are in any way stronger than me, I just figure their pain is not as severe.
See, as I wrote about this experience with pain I knew some reader somewhere would be thinking “what a fuckin’ pussy. He ‘gets a damn toothache and makes a big deal about it. Why doesn’t he just man up and handle it in silence?”
Fuck that. That tooth hurt so bad I literally could not sit still. Moving around didn’t help either, but Jesus, I couldn’t just sit there and take it. So maybe that does make me a wuss. I’ll tell you this though, I certainly appreciated that scene in Castaway where Tom Hanks removes his tooth with an ice skate. You reach a point where you just can’t stand it anymore. I guess my pain intolerance does not bode well for my future. I will not be one of those brave souls who withstand immense pain while battling cancer. Just put a pillow over my face and let me be done with it. Please.