I put it to you today that some toothaches are worse than some life- threatening conditions, if we weigh them on a pain scale. This is no joke; I am very serious here. With these terminal conditions, there is a terminus, a bus stop where you get off and get welcomed by a flood of white light, a beckoning aura that swallows you and plant you on the other side or if you are lucky you get a quick medical attention, a reprieve, maybe some lasting therapy, maybe something to buy you some time. Either way, there is a placebo that relieves the pain or there is none.
No, not with this toothache, you stand no chance! No leeway, no drifting out of consciousness, no back alley. You do not even get to die. Every route you take ends in a cul-de-sac and you are left to deal with the pain. This was where I was a night ago- at the end of my tethers. The throb in my tooth like a salvo killed my night sleep. I moaned and groaned and cursed and cried but this pain did not abate a slight.
Yesterday was one day I‘ll never forget in a hurry. I had the most agonizing night of my life with this terrible toothache. That must be the weirdest qualifier for a toothache, but it is a good one. I understand that for many people this would be nothing but holding up a hand lens to a mole hill and you would have been right except that in this case, a hand lens could not have applied and I had not the luxury of one anyway. Heck my troubles weren’t even visible, and if they were I couldn’t see them. I’d have needed a high definition microscope to see those vermin for what they were- miniature Draculas, complete with horns, hooks, claws and fangs. Even more so, I suspect these ones of which I speak, are mutants, fiery aliens cast away from the general population of the main breed, seven times stronger than the first time they launched an attack. Oh the words of the good book, how so true!
You should have seen me yesterday as I held a mirror to my mouth like a dimwit fascinated by the slimy landscape of his oral cavity. I clutched the damn reflector like it had some laser power to burn out those nasty germs. This is what you get when the devil decides to take residence inside the cavity of your tooth, and then decides to throw in a party for good measure. You just go berserk in your desperation to stop the pain. It’s like looking for an elephant in your pocket. The only thing I needed yesterday night for a clown act was an audience to throw in the bananas. You’d think that if I had any sense I would know that peering at my mouth would not stop the pain. But I didn’t do it for lack of reason; I did it for distraction –albeit a futile one, when counting sheep became impracticable. It was a blatant impossibility just to drop off to sleep.
They say healing comes when you are at sleep. Balderdash, hogwash!!!
Whoever said this certainly didn’t factor in relieve from dental pain into that body of generalization. These dental bugs are the most vicious at night, and they do not come unprotected. They come padded in drug-resistant suites, inflicting pain as they danced the night away.
So you see, my dental trouble stood tall like an imposing mountain over every other bodily concerns yesterday. Did I say bodily? Oh no, earthly more like. I wasn’t thinking that I was being melodramatic, like you are probably thinking now. I wasn’t thinking about the impression my girlfriend would get if she saw me then, I wasn’t thinking of what anyone would think about a grown man groaning over a tooth ache. I wasn’t thinking of what a Master’s degree would do to my career. No sir, I wasn’t thinking of any of those. Those are matters that crop up in moment of retrospection or for people that are detached from the reality of my circumstance. They are not the thinking of a man in the throes of pain. I suppose a woman in labour might understand this sentiment better.
I understood also that my comfort wasn’t going to come from asking myself of how many people really do die of toothache. That would have been an irrelevant question in the light of the referral pain that had spread to my neck, back and shoulder and a migraine building up in my head. So, at that point, statistics wouldn’t have helped. I just wanted the pain to go. I just wanted reprieve which I know would only come in the application of the dentist’s forceps.
This is one experience I cannot help but set down in writing. The reason is simple. Doing this is my post-trauma therapy. It’s how I get to make light of a very painful personal experience. I still cringe from just remembering that just a night ago I was writhing in pain, desperately praying for a relief and getting none. I couldn’t avail myself of a comic relief then but tonight I’m having a victory party. I have the villain, the second molar on the right side of my lower jaw. It is out of my mouth; this errant defector who opened the door for the enemy to attack, right in front of me now as I write. It’s my spoil from this battle. When I am done here it goes into my treasure chalice where the first casualty from about a year ago awaits. I do not mind playing the buffoon here, if it helps me keep my sanity.
The first time I had a tooth pulled out of my mouth I had with me a Canon camera, I wanted it filmed. At the time, I had a little reprieve from the pain to think it’d be interesting to watch later how the dentist extracted the grinder from my mouth. However, the dentist declined. I thought he was being difficult. Was it a Hippocrates thing? I asked. No he said brusquely.
After he pulled the damn thing out of my jaw he asked me smugly if I still felt the whole thing was a picnic, a home- video for public viewing.
It is a serious business; his eyes seemed to say like I had the airs of Mary friggin’ Poppins when I walked into his sterile workshop (his hand tools bear a resemblance to those of a carpenter). This bugger should know that I was the one who couldn’t endure the pain; I was the one who came all the way to have the damn thing out of my mouth. He on the other hand gets paid for reaping out teeth from the jaws of hapless victims, yet he had the nerve to give me the attitude. Of course this was no joyride for me, but wasn’t it Jesus that said if a member of your body offends you, then be rid of it. I am a true disciple and this tooth had done more than offend me. This member had shown me the gnashing-of- teeth act; I’d rather not have the total hellish package.
Still, I didn’t feel my bid to have a dental extraction filmed sounded that morbid. I had no inkling then that my fascination for novelties might somewhat have taken a turn for the horrific.
So before he threw out my plucked tooth, I demanded for it. It was his right to object to a filming; it was mine to demand for my tooth. He paused for a while, nodded his head and rapped more cotton wool around the bloodied wool that held the sucker tooth and handed it over. I collected it with as much pomp as I could enthuse to rile him some more. This was one kodak moment I wanted to freeze in time. I had a mental picture of photographers snapping away.
That was fourteen months ago.
This morning I didn’t have the presence of mind to do the diddly whoop with the dentist (who just happened to be the same dentist that had the first one removed). Payback’s a bitch huh!
After a long winding torture of a lecture on oral hygiene and the need for regular oral checkup, he set to work- the licensed Grim reaper, but my savior nonetheless. He handed the tooth to me in a fluff of white wool, my latest bride in virginal white. I thanked him profusely for his help and kind words and prayed silently never to see his supercilious face again.
I tell you, there is no matter critical enough to trump the distress of a man in this kind of pain. Every other thing is feather weight, paper thin. In the words of an English essayist, sickness enlarges the dimension of a man’s self to himself, he his is own exclusive object. Nothing made sense to me except the pain and even the pain knows no sense, no reason. Not in the tablet of Ibrupfen that was supposed to block the synthesis of prostaglandins (a paracrine chemical that naturally induces pain as its physiological activity). Not in the reddish local chewing stick with the pepperish flavor that was said to be the magic wonder for all sorts of teeth trouble. Not in the salt and warm water solution, that came popularly recommended, that I have been guzzling for the past five hours. Not in the myriad of medications and mouthwashes, burning my tongue with a hot tang that I have had to endure. Not in a thing! They all just rolled off these bugs’ backs while they partied on.
What I found strange about this experience was that this happened to me, not once but twice. Good oral hygiene hasn’t been an issue for me. I brush twice daily, eat calcium-rich food and all, no biggie! But the vacant spaces on both sides of my mouth would tell a different story. They would forever stand as a hollow monument to the empty ruins of two fallen teeth and a constant reminder that I should have been to the dentist’s sooner than I did. What I didn’t know was my undoing. And after I got my first baptism of fire through the claws of a dentist’s wedge, still I drifted and the ultimate price came in the loss of a second tooth.
I guess I haven’t exactly been in the good books of the tooth fairy or the tin rooftop gods of my childhood days. You see, where I come from, those milk teeth after fallen off get sacrificed along with seven small pebbles to the tin god. All you had to do was throw these bits on the roof of a bungalow if you desire a permanent replacement for the missing tooth, or so the legend goes. It is an age-long tradition of my childhood days that I flagrantly did not observe. So nonconformist was I, that I kept every single one of my teeth to myself until they eventually got missing one way or the other. If only I had known about the tooth fairy then, I might have had a few coins in exchange.
So now that I sit by my PC to carry out a post-mortem on this fallen tooth, I am ethically bound to explore every possible angle. The ridiculous seem to take preeminence here for want of the usual suspects that have been marked off on my checklist. I am of the mind that this is a grand conspiracy theory against me -those the tin gods want punished, they first make pigheaded, never doing what their peers did, and years later come to suffer the consequences of their action/inaction under the dentist’s tool. This is my candid summation!
I just hope and pray that with this latest extraction, I will be excused from this fiendish orthodontal scam. It is sad enough that my friends now call me twice the toothsie (a title akin to that of a veteran, I guess), I hate to think of what mischiefs they’ll come up with if they find my front tooth missing tomorrow.
Truthfully between the enduring pain of dental sensitivity and tooth extraction, I will not hesitate to have the entire set pulled out in a heartbeat rather than go through another toothache in the future. (twice beaten and you can expect paranoia).I hear there are dental prosthetics now that fit perfectly and are strong enough to crush the toughest of bones. So while I’m praying that I have seen the last of the dentist’s wedge, I’m equally trying to come up with a viable defense for toothless-ness (just in case, you know).
There’s a good one that one of those knuckle-head friends of mine mentioned a while ago- toothless kiss! At the time, it sounded like a hare-brained idea but the more I think about it, the more I see the merits. As a matter of fact, a toothless kiss might just be the next best thing since the liberal movement against circumcision.
Imagine what it would feel like to have just tongue, saliva and lips in that roll of rapturous pleasure- no teeth getting in the way like the interception of a rail crossing along a major road. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
Also consider, even though remote, that possibility of being bitten in the heat of the moment while kissing, that wouldn’t be fun now, would it? (except if you get the kicks from sadomasochism), because then there’d be an increased risk of contracting HIV. That would certainly not be a good thing.
…there goes a point for toothless-ness!
In the spirit of fairness, I did some findings on my own just to balance the scale (the mouth must be made for more than the lustful).
There is the eating, chewing, cracking, munching, breaking e.t.c (how could I forget???), that should have been the first to present. But hey, man shall not live by bread alone, right? And didn’t that wizened economist Abraham Maslow group sex -and all its lustful accompaniment, on the same basal level as food in his theory of the human need? That man has a good head on his neck for sure.
Inspite of Maslow’s brilliance, food still gets a little concession in the order of things in my book, and this irrefutably brings the teeth to the fore. I definitely need for this to be the last time I go for a tooth extraction or I might as well order for that prosthetics now.
Okay I give up. A toothless grin would not exactly become a fashionable thing in my time, but I still say out with the bad tooth!
23:05 hrs 04/09/2012.