Friday, October 17, 2003

My tale of woe 

About a year and a half ago, I had a root canal done by a local dentist, who I'll call Dr. Shitbum. I have a major dentist phobia, probably because I had three root canals done in one day when I was four years old. So, when they took me into the chamber of horrors, I requested nitrous oxide.

Most dentists will happily provide it, especially if you explain that dental work is very difficult for you without it. In this case, I was at a dental clinic with several different dentists, and when I requested it to the assistant, she went and got the equipment and brought it into the room.

Then Dr. Shitbum came in, and informed me that he did not approve of the use of nitrous oxide. I explained to him why I felt it necessary, and he said, "Oh, you won't be needing it. Now what we're going to do today is a root canal..."

Right around the time they jabbed those horrible long needles into my jaw, I started sweating, feeling faint, and found it hard to breathe. I would have walked out of the office, but I couldn't -- I'd called in sick to get this emergency appointment and was in fairly serious pain. I started crying, which is incredibly unusual for me when it has nothing to do with people I care about. (Which is to say, I cry pretty damned easily if I get my feelings hurt by Steve, or my parents, etc. But that's the first and only time a stranger ever brought me to tears.)

I suffered through the root canal, which was incredibly unpleasant. Aren't they always? Afterwards, the dentist gave me this condescending speech... "See now, that wasn't so bad after all, was it?"

"Actually, it was fucking awful, and I'll be finding a new dentist after today."

I guess Dr. Shitbum didn't take me seriously, because I was presented with an estimate for the completion of the root canal -- well over $300. He refused to do anything other than a full-blown cosmetic job (pins, porcelain crown)... and this was on a tooth in the very back, right in front of my wisdom tooth. Not like anyone would ever see it, Christ.

Afterwards, he asked what I usually was prescribed for pain following dental work. Vicodin. He said, "You almost certainly won't need this, but I'll go ahead and prescribe it to make you feel better."

I had a shitload of pain following that root canal. I found out why, today -- he'd drilled too deeply, penetrating the area between the "legs" of the root.

I didn't go back. Now, I know I should have had the root canal finished by someone else, but my fear of dentists led to lots of excuses, and I didn't get around to it. Besides, I'd had temporary fillings last for years before without any problems.

Then, several months back, the tooth in front of the root canaled one, which appeared perfectly healthy from the outside, exploded. I bit down on a slice of pizza, and there was a sickening crunch. A rather large piece of that tooth fell out. It was painless, though, so I again didn't bother to go to a dentist.

I procrastinated a lot. And then, three or four days ago, that temporary filling came out. Around that time I let Steve know I'd probably need to go to a dentist fairly soon. Meanwhile, I bought a package of "do-it-yourself" temp filling material, and packed it.

I'd had some pain once the filling came out, but not terrible. However, several hours after replacing it, I was in unbelievable amounts of pain. I was also at work -- go figure. This is why I didn't write any blog entries yesterday -- I was in far too much pain to concentrate.

I took 800mg of ibuprofen (Motrin) and 1000mg of acetominophen (Tylenol). The pain wasn't helped much. I also noted I was running a fever, and had swollen lymph nodes on that side. At this point, I realized I wasn't going to be able to wait to see a doctor... the telltale swelling on my gum told me I had an abscess.

So I tried to call Steve. No answer for a while, but at 5:30am, once his alarm clock went off, he picked up the phone. I explained the situation to him, and he told me he was going to call in sick so I would be able to get to a dentist right away. After all, dental abscesses can be dangerous, especially if you have a history of heart problems, which I do. Bacterial endocarditis, anyone? In fact, my own grandfather died from a dental abscess (infection spread to his heart). That was a long time ago,though -- during WWII.

I got home, spent a couple of hours resting, then called a dentist at 8:00am. Since the only local dentist I know is Dr. Shitbum, I had to pick one out from the advertisements. And unfortunately, none of the ones advertising emergency appointments or nitrous oxide were in my town.

One particular ad for a female dentist caught Steve's eye. She had pictures of smiling teeth and a rainbow background -- he figured that meant she would be especially nice and caring. So I called her office, and they were able to get me in for an emergency appointment. We didn't really have to wait all that long, either, even though she had to work me in between patients.

They did the standard x-rays, which were quite painful since I had to bite down. After a bit, the dentist came in, took a look at the x-rays, and audibly gasped. She explained that I had an enormous abscess, and my jawbone itself was infected. "This is more than I can handle," she said. "You're going to need to see an oral surgeon."

The infection was severe enough that I'd require antibiotics to get it under control before anything could be done, so she prescribed these along with Vicodin extra strength (7.5 mg, as opposed to the usual 5). She also let me know they would have to extract the root-canaled tooth, and probably the one in front of it as well, as the infection had destroyed so much of the teeth they couldn't be saved. Furthermore, I might very well have to have my jawbone trimmed.


On the bright side, she did say I'd be getting IV Valium, which hopefully will make my trip to the oral surgeon a little less awful.

So, Wednesday afternoon, I'll be heading over to the chamber of horrors. I suppose I'd be dreading the visit, but right now I'm so high on Vicodin I don't really care.

Kataine needs dental insurance 

It was a dental emergency. She called at 5:30 this morning, saying approximately, "ow, my jaw hurts like fuck". So I called in absent and we went to a dentist who did emergency appointments. We got a nice dentist, which means Kataine got 20 7.5mg Vicodin. Why so many? Because she's going to have to wait a week to have the teeth pulled. The abcess is so bad the dentist said "holy shit, here's some antibiotics. Call an oral surgeon in a week, I can't do that shit."

And that's why she needs insurance. This was caused by a temporary filling that fell out quite a while back, and neither of us was in a great hurry to get it replaced. Because it would cost a lot. Now we're looking at paying about $400 total for 2 teeth pulled. If she had insurance, it would've paid for the preventative care and most likely she wouldn't be in need of opiates all the time. Uh, don't tell Kataine that, she'll never want to get insurance ever. Besides, her job doesn't have dental, and her teeth don't suck so much that buying it separately would save money.


I was unable to post yesterday due to a medical emergency. I'll catch up tonight, promise!

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