I Made It!

I don’t know about you, but it seems like the most simple things in my life turn into something really bazaar. If a problem arises, most people take care of it and move on. But, not for me. Once I discover a problem, it seems to get much worse before it gets better. For example, I woke up with a tooth ache one February morning. It didn’t hurt too bad, and I was hoping that it wouldn’t get any worse before I could get in to see my dentist in two weeks.

Three days later, my entire head was throbbing with pain, and I was eating ibuprofen like it was candy, but the pain persisted. Friday morning my alarm clock went off at 5:30 and I bet I hadn’t had two hours of sleep. I got up and took a shower then went to work. By nine o’clock that morning, it was hurting so bad I was determined to knock my tooth out myself if I had to. I told my boss that I was leaving and didn’t know how long I would be gone, but I had to get my tooth taken care of that day.

I arrived at my dentist’s office around ten o’clock that morning, and I’ll be damn, his office was closed. And an hour later, I discovered that most dentist’s offices were closed on Fridays. I drove to every dentist office within a forty mile radius and they were all closed. All but one! I was so relieved when I found a dentist who actually worked on Fridays that I almost forgot to turn my car off before rushing into his office.

I talked to the receptionist and explained that I absolutely had to see the dentist today. I told her that I was in sever pain and had not slept in three days and I have been eating ibuprofen like it was candy and it hadn’t phased the pain. She said the dentist could see me in a few minutes and she had me fill out the new patient forms. In about fifteen minutes, the dental assistant came and got me. I followed her to the last room on the left and sat down on the chair.

I really can’t explain it, but as soon as I walked into that room, I had a funny feeling that this was not going to be a pleasant experience. A few minutes later, the dentist came into the room. I guess he was in his early fifties and he was tall and skinny and he reminded me a lot of Gene Wilder when he played Dr. Frankenstein. But, as I said before, I was in so much pain that I was willing to do anything to get some comfort. He took x-rays and examined my tooth and told me I would have to have a root canal. I said, “Okay, let’s do it.”

He proceeded to work on my tooth for damn near two hours, and I don’t know if he didn’t give me enough Novocaine or what, but this pain was excruciating. It hurt so bad, tears were rolling down my cheeks. The facial expressions of the dental assistant were saying, “Oh you poor thing; I don’t know how you can sit still while that maniac is killing you.” I was thinking, “No wonder this guy could fit me in so quickly. I’m probably the only patient he has ever had. God as my witness, if I get out of here alive, I will never, EVER come back!” Finally he was finished and he put a temporary filling in, and I got out of that chair, paid my bill and when the receptionist asked when I wanted my next appointment, I just looked at her and said, “I don’t need another appointment because I won’t be coming back.” I turned around and walked out that door and when I got in my truck, I thanked the Lord that I had survived.

Two weeks later, I went to see my dentist, and he examined me and took x-rays. He asked me how the root canal had gone and I said, “It was horrible and I will never have it done again.” He laughed and told me if I ever had a problem like that in the future, to call him and he would take care of me. He was satisfied with the work the other dentist had done, so he just had to do some prep work to finish up the job and then he would put a crown on the tooth.

I have the best dentist in the world. He stays so busy that you have to wait nearly a month before you can get an appointment to see him.  But the wait is well worth it because he is so gentle that many times you don’t even need a shot to numb your gum.   I had three follow-up appointments with him  and each time he drilled out the temporary filling and replaced it with a new one, and I didn’t get one single shot and I never felt any pain.

It was now mid May, and two days before I was to receive my crown, my tooth started hurting again. When I arrived at my dentist’s office, I told him my tooth was starting to hurt again. Evidently I didn’t precisely explain  how it felt because he just thought my gum around the tooth was sensitive from all the work that had been done on the tooth. As soon as he put the crown on, I said, “Something’s wrong.” He looked puzzled and said, “What do you mean?” I said, “It feels like it did before I had the root canal.” He told me it was probably still sensitive and for me to give it a couple of days and if it still hurt, come back and see him. I couldn’t understand why it hurt either because all the nerves in the tooth were gone so how could it possibly hurt?

I told you my dentist’s office is closed on Fridays, didn’t I? Well guess what? Friday morning I was in so much pain, I didn’t care if he was closed or not. I called his home and told him I had to see him because I could not go through this agonizing pain again. An hour later he met me at his office. He couldn’t understand what could possibly be wrong until I told him, “The only thing I can think of is what the other dentist said after he finished my root canal. He said that it was strange that I only had two canals because most people have three.” My dentist said, “Oh.” A couple of x-rays later proved that I actually had three canals and that the other dentist had missed one of my canals. It also proved that my dentist is fantastic because without the use of Novocaine, he had drilled on that tooth several times and I had never felt a thing.

Now, I had two options. One, have another root canal, or two, have the tooth extracted. Now I wouldn’t advise anyone to have a tooth pulled, but I had gone through this horrible ordeal once and I really didn’t want to go through it again. Plus, I was taking a trip to the Grand Canyon in one week, and I sure didn’t want to be in pain while I was on vacation, so I decided to have the tooth removed.

My dentist made me an appointment with an oral surgeon and on the day before I left for my trip, I would be pain-free. He also gave me a prescription for pain medication to ease the pain for the next few days. I was dreading getting my tooth pulled and the closer the time came, the more I dreaded it. I had told my friend, Lynn, about my upcoming appointment and she told her mother, Rose.  Rose called me and  said they might put me to sleep so she insisted that go she with me. I reluctantly accepted her offer.

My appointment was at ten o’clock and Rose picked me up from work at nine that morning. We arrived at the oral surgeon’s office about fifteen minutes before my appointment and when the assistant called my name, I followed her back to the room. They hooked a blood pressure monitor and heart monitor up to me and the surgeon came in and talked to me. He asked me if I wanted to be put to sleep and I said no. He gave me a couple of shots to numb my gum and he said he would be back in a few minutes to extract the tooth.

While I waited, the assistant was talking to me and asking me all sorts of questions about my health. I had no idea why she was asking about my family’s history of strokes, high blood pressure and heart problems, but before I knew it, she had two other people in the room with me asking me questions too. Pretty soon, they had Rose in the room and I still had no idea what was going on. All I knew is that I wanted this over with and over with as quickly as possible.

When Rose left the room the oral surgeon came back in and asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this today. I said, “Absolutely! I am leaving for the Grand Canyon tomorrow and I want to be pain-free while I am there.”   At that time, there were three assistants and the surgeon in the room and they all were really nice and they kept asking me if I was alright. One assistant put a damp rag on my head and the others were watching.  The surgeon extracted my tooth and once it was done, he said, “I need to know the name of your doctor. Your blood pressure is 215/185 and that is very serious. I would put you in the hospital, but I would rather you see your regular doctor.”

They called my doctor’s office and told them I was on my way. I don’t know why they wouldn’t let me walk through the lobby but they had Rose pull the car around back to pick me up. I insisted that I was fine, but they kept insisting that I wasn’t. They practically carried me to the back door and put me in Rose’s car. Rose and I arrived at my doctor’s office a little after eleven. And we sat there for damn near two hours before I could see the doctor. I was still numb from the Novocaine and couldn’t speak clearly and each time I went to the water fountain to get a drink, water would roll down my lip and get all over my clothes. I felt like the biggest idiot in the world and I was pretty embarrassed that everyone was making such a big fuss over me. I felt really bad for Rose because she had been nice enough to volunteer to take me to the oral surgeon that morning and now I was taking up her entire afternoon at the doctor’s office.

Around one o’clock I finally got in to see my doctor. He took my blood pressure and even though it had gone down to 185/172, it was still extremely high. He ran every test imaginable on me that day. X-rays, EKG, blood test, urine test and the whole nine yards. I spent all afternoon in the doctor’s office going from one room to the other to have something else done. When Lynn got off work, she came over to relieve Rose. It was four o’clock when all my tests results were in and the doctor called me back into the exam room. He told me he was going to put me in the hospital and I said, “No. I can’t go to the hospital.” He looked and me and said, “You’ll be alright. I’ll take good care of you.”

Now I don’t cry very often, but I started crying and I was shaking my head “no” and I finally managed to say, “I cannot go to the hospital. I am going to the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I have never been to the Grand Canyon before, and I want to go at least once before I die.” He gave me a sympatic look and then he grinned and said, “As your doctor, I am telling you that you need to be hospitalized. But, I can see this is very important to you, so I will let you go.  You have to promise me to get this prescription filled right after you leave here and start taking it as soon as you get it filled. Call me Tuesday or Wednesday and let me know how you feel, and come see me as soon as you get back.” I smiled and said, “Yes sir!”

So you see, what are normally typical and usual occurrences for most people become extraordinarily weird events for me.   A simple root canal procedure turned into four-month long ordeal. A simple thirty minute extraction of a tooth turned into an all day visit at my doctor’s office.   But the most important thing was, was that I made it to the Grand Canyon and even though I was on two different types of strong pain medication, I remember the trip like it was yesterday. While I was at the Grand Canyon I sent my dentist, the oral surgeon and my doctor a post card that simply said, “I made it!” 🙂


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