Death by Toothache

An image from 1300s (A.D.) England depicting a...

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Back in yore, rotten teeth killed people. Enamel cracked or was eaten away by food debris and lack of sufficient (or any) dental hygiene. Germs seeped into the root canal because dogs aren’t the only of God’s creatures with festering saliva, and infection blossomed.

Left alone long enough, pus oozes along the pathways hither and yon and before a person could scream for the local witch woman or butcher, sepsis and death.

Archeologists are forever digging up our bony ancestors who succumbed to the dreaded toothache. Many a mummy met his end for lack of root canal.

Last week, I could have been on track to become a freak statistic because people in the “modern” world do still die of the occasional tooth abscess gone horribly wrong.

Fortunately, I have Rob.

After messing about for close to two weeks with an infection that defied doctors, my own and in the ER, I noticed that my lower jaw hurt and suspected that a cavity filled at the end of July could have gone bad.

A call to the emergency number at the dentist’s practice on Sunday evening was less than helpful. Perhaps I am mistaken about the whole “dental emergency” thing, but I was expecting something other than “go to the ER and call us on Tuesday morning to schedule an appointment.”

Tuesday morning I was told that I could be squeezed in on Thursday afternoon for a 30 minute consult.

This was after I disclosed my saga and symptoms, which alarmed the receptionist enough to go to the cubicles herself and let the dentist know what was going on and ask for guidance.

His great wisdom? Sounds like a root canal was needed. Can’t do anything until the infection settles a bit. Stay on the antibiotics and come in next week. Tuesday. In the afternoon.

“Call my dentist,” Rob said. “I know it’s going to be awkward because you switched to someone new but she will probably see you today.”

I did switch to someone new. I wanted a better hygienist. The gentleman I was assigned to has huge fingers and is a very nervous fellow. My first experience with him was … painful … and though he improved, I dreaded going in.

And Dee did nothing but whine and wince.

So a friend suggested another practice and the hygienist was awesome and the Dentist does good check-up.

He sucks at cavities though. I had two done at the end of July. Horrific and then I ended up with the whole abscess thing …

“I’m not up for awkward at the moment, ” I told Rob.

But visions of dead mummies plagued me more than saving face did, so I called and I was worked in immediately – no questions.

She was concerned about the infection, the pain, the possibility that the infection was gaining strength. Changed my antibiotic. Actually found a pain med I could take without miserable side-effects and gave up some of her lunch hour to work me in the next day for a root canal.

The other guy had said that root canals can’t be performed until the antibiotics start to work.

Not true. Don’t ever buy that.

I spent about two hours on Wednesday in root canal mode. The worst thing about it is keeping your mouth open for so long that the jaw cramps. But the pain wasn’t bad. I’ve had two root canals now and never time did I suffer.

My opinion about suffering? Either the dentist isn’t skilled or you’ve had the misfortune of having a massive infection that simply couldn’t be effectively anesthetized. It happens.

Most of the time, the tooth drained. It was quite … ookie … that’s a professional medical term by the way.

The infection is still being subdued. I don’t feel great, but I am not hurting down my neck, across my chest and the pains in my ribs are mostly gone.

It was just the icing on several weeks worth of medical reckonings. My thyroid appears to be failing and I had two more eye swelling experiences, so the new doctor is sending me all over the greater Edmonton area to be tested for this and that.

“You can’t die until I am grown up,” Dee informed me last week as I tucked her in for the night.

“You can’t die at all,” Rob said later, “because that little girl simply couldn’t survive it.”

He didn’t have to add that it would suck a lot for him too.

I’m not dying, but I have been neglectful of some things that I would have jumped all over if I were back in the States and seeing my much missed Dr. C. I am simply going to have to bring the Canadian way of medicine into harmony with my own personal needs. How, I haven’t quite figured out, but I was told once that I am a force of nature, so Hurricane Annie will have to put her thinking cap on.

6 thoughts on “Death by Toothache

  1. shopping for health care providers should be the same as shopping for consumer electronics, automobiles and appliances – but it seems with the Canadian system, you may have far fewer options to choose from. my mom is still with her quack general practitioner because she’s afraid to hurt his feelings, despite several missed diagnoses and an administrative and nursing staff that is out right abusive…

    really hoping you can get this behind you soon – i suspect once you really start feeling better, it’ll be just like someone turned the lights back on! good luck!

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