Seventeen years ago I had a cavity. Not a big cavity, just a small little nuisance that continued to moan, “Hey! I’m here! Do something about me or I’m going to bug you incessantly!” And it did, so brave gal that I am, I did something about it.  

I had to go to ‘that’ place. You know ‘that’ place, right? The one that, when you first open the door, the smell hits you like a baseball bat in your nasal passages? That smell no one can truly define because we’re all too afraid to figure out what it really is? That place where they use a car jack to open your mouth to the size of a two car garage? That place where that one obnoxious light shines brightly in your face, so bright you try to keep your eyes closed but they flutter consistently and uncontrollably from the intensity? That place where fingers the size of watermelons wander painfully through your mouth, tugging, pulling, scraping and picking until you want to bite them and spit them out the nearest window. The place that has that sound.  

You know the sound… 

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  

At first you might think it’s the nail salon, “Yeah! I’m getting fake nails!” but then reality hits and you realize, “Holy S&%!! That’s going in my mouth!”  The dentist.  

It really was just a small cavity. But that one tiny, little nuisance kept me away from that place for seventeen years. My theory? When I have pain, I’ll go back. And wouldn’t you know it, seventeen quick years later, I had pain.  

After a few months of torment from my poor, small molar crying out in excruciating pain each time I took a sip of Starbucks or a gargle of ice water, I decided seventeen years was long enough and I must again be brave. What a mistake that turned out to be!  

Don’t get me wrong, my dentist is a great person. He’s kind, funny, sympathetic, understanding and not overly expensive. But he’s still a monster. He can inflict pain in ways I’ve only wished capable. And that was only toward those high school bitches that wanted to steal my boyfriend, so I knew I’d never really have to go through with those evil thoughts.   

I started to feel the pain sometime close to Halloween. Tepid at first, more annoying than painful. Apparently God was preparing me for pain more intense than labor because by Thanksgiving I couldn’t even breathe in cool air without grabbing my jaw and praying my life would end. Immediately. Please realize I am not one to forget pain. And I remember labor. Thirty six long, agonizing hours of back breaking, horrifying and almost intolerable pain, sans medication. I recall telling my husband, over and over, “I will never, ever do this again.” And I haven’t. Nor will I. Ever. We got him snipped almost right after my C-section because I was so flipping miserable! (See what a great man he is!) 

That pretty much sums up how I feel about a root canal too.  Never, ever again.  

Thankfully at the time of the dreaded dentist appointment, my wonderful dentist gave me some fun drugs that made me relaxed and calm. Then he shot me up with the ‘nummers’ and I thought, “Hey, this ain’t so bad! I guess I was scared for no reason!”  

And then it happened.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  

Oh my! Apparently the nummers didn’t kick in just yet!  

A few more minutes and a couple of shots later I was good to go. After the drilling and the scraping and the soldering (who knew?), he finished and I was actually grateful that I wouldn’t experience anymore of that intensely unnerving pain.  

Or so I thought.  

Unfortunately the pain didn’t go away. Sure, it was better but it wasn’t gone. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I thought once you had a root canal the pain was supposed to be over. It just wasn’t. I still felt an incredible, horrible shooting like pain each time I drank a coffee or even ate oatmeal. I started taking the prescription pain killers and once those were gone I carried a bottle of non-aspirin pain reliever with me and downed a few of those before I ate anything with any type of temperature.  

Finally I went back to ‘that’ place and he took an x-ray of the area formally known as my tooth. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No signs of any reason for pain. He suggested I see a chiropractor because my jaw was seriously tense and that could be the reason for the pain. Off I went to the chiropractor. For three months, almost once a week.  

Still no relief. So back I went to the dentist. Finally he decided there must be a problem and we scheduled a repair to the root canal.  And I anxiously awaited my next appointment at the dentist. I actually grew excited to go, knowing the pain would be gone and I could live to eat in freedom and enjoyment once again. No longer would my Decaf Grande Non-fat Latte be painful, just once again enjoyable. The excitement in me grew. The anticipation almost overwhelmed me.  

The day finally came. Now mind you, I’m still desperately afraid of the dentist but just knowing I could end the pain of the last few months made the fear almost worth it. As I sat in the chair preparing to have the needle of nummers shot into my jaw, I grew even more scared, yet still excited and almost relieved.  

Little did I know it would take seven needles of nummers to make the highly inflamed pain tolerable? Tolerable by the way, does not mean gone.  

Repairing the root canal wasn’t fun. The pain was constant and as I sat, fists clenched and feet straight with angst, I held my breath and hopped this would be the end. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. The repair work was done only yesterday and all last night I sat up in agony, downing pain killers every three hours in hopes of catching a few hours of sleep.  

Today has been better, though I’m still feeling the pain and still taking the drugs. I’m hoping it will be gone soon and that the whole thing is over. I am consistent with flossing and brushing my teeth and feel confident that the dentist didn’t lie when he said my mouth was in excellent shape even though I’d missed seventeen years of dentist appointments.  

You might be wondering if there is a moral to this story. There is. If you don’t go to the dentist for seventeen years and then have to go because of a root canal, make sure you have a whole lot of pain relieving drugs on hand because honey, you’re gonna need it!


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