Friday I went to the dentist. Again. I’ve been visiting him somewhat regularly since having a root canal done because I’ve been having varying degrees of pain around the crown. I’ve had consultations with the root canal guy over and over, and I’ve been told each time that the root canal is fine. I was once told that I was experiencing ‘phantom pain,’ like a memory of how bad it hurt before I had the root canal. Right. As if. I suppose I should be glad no one told me the pain would go away if I lost weight, but it’s just as annoying to be told the pain is all in my head.
At Friday’s visit, I got to see a different root canal guy. The other one seems to be out of the picture now. And this new guy, Dr. B, took one look at my x-ray and found a problem. Really. That simple. Apparently, I’ve had an infection growing and growing and growing in a space that should have been filled during the original root canal. Swell. When B called my dentist (Dr. D) in to show him what was going on, D got upset. “She’s been complaining about this for a long time. How come no one saw this before now?” I silently cheered Dr. D for that. I’d have done it aloud, but I had some weird metal scope thing stuck in my gum, and couldn’t speak.
But really, why wasn’t it found earlier? Because the other guy couldn’t hear me? Couldn’t believe that there could possibly have been something wrong with his work? Really annoying. Because of course the infection wouldn’t have gone this far, wouldn’t have been able to cause me this much discomfort, if it had been found the first time I complained of pain. The second time. Yeah, it’s only in my head. Chalk one up for medical chauvinism.
So I spent a couple of hours in the chair yesterday (talk about a fun Saturday afternoon!) getting this taken care of. I won’t go into detail, but basically there was a lot of drilling and infection treating and when this is done, I have to have the root canal redone and have to get a new crown. And there’s the possibility that this won’t work and I’ll have to go back and have a much more invasive surgical procedure.
And all of this I have to pay for. And all of this my insurance covers only a teenty-tiny piece of. And then there’s the pain. Yes, the pain.
On Friday Dr. D asked if I wanted a prescription for painkillers. I said no, that I’d take Advil. He wanted to give me a prescription anyway. “You’ll fill it,” he said, “and take it if you need it. You don’t have to be brave about pain.” I liked that. So what should he give me? I couldn’t remember anything I’d taken in the past. Ok, there were the Morphine (drug-form this time, not musical) and Percocet I took after my abdominal surgery, but that seemed a bit extreme for dental pain. Dr. D offered Tylenol with codeine or Vicodin. Vicodin? Um … don’t people get addicted to that? I chose the Tylenol. Codeine was a known quantity. I’d taken it last year when I had the double whammy of sinusitis and bronchitis. It makes me loopy and silly, but I was never tempted to spend the rent money for my next hit of the stuff.
Today I’m cursing myself just a little, thinking the Vicodin might have been the wiser choice. My face is killing me. No, make that killing me! I’m grateful to Dr. D for insisting I take the Tylenol prescription, though. How silly of me to think I could have even minor oral surgery and not have pain afterwards.
(Dr. C — the original root canal guy — better hope I never run into him on the street.)