Many years ago, on my 26th birthday, I woke up with a toothache. It'll be just fine, I said to myself. I'm healthy, it's my birthday--nothing can go wrong.
I then spent the rest of the day having an impacted wisdom tooth pulled, and celebrating by sleeping off the pain medication and eating three spoonfuls of soup. Such is life.
This should have taught me a lesson, but I'm too stubborn for my own good. Last week I seemed to have a cold, couldn't breathe at all, and my teeth hurt. By Thursday the pain had localized to one tooth, the very front one on the right. I made a dentist appointment for Monday. By Friday I felt like hell and called the doctor, who thought it was a sinus infection and prescribed antibiotics.
I got through Saturday (see previous post) and figured I was on the mend. Went to dinner with friends on Saturday night, and by dessert felt like a large, vicious animal was slowly clawing at my face. My amazing friends took out their cell phones and began calling around to find a dentist who could see me that night or on Sunday, and we learned that weekends were a really bad time to get a toothache in New York. Yes, there isn't a single emergency dental clinic in this entire city. We found one creepy-sounding guy who wanted $1,000 in cash to open his office, and many others who didn't return messages, including my own dentist. Those who would talk to me agreed that my symptoms indicated a root canal, what fun. My doctor's service suggested I go to the ER and get pain medication. Since I didn't want to sit in a room with sick and bleeding people for many hours, a friend gave me a Percoset she happened to have from an old prescription. I felt like a drug addict who just scored big time.
Went home, went to bed, waited to feel wonderful. Nothing. The pain lessened for about two hours and then came back with a vengeance. (I don't understand the appeal of getting addicted to this stuff. In my limited experience this weekend, it barely helps extreme pain, and makes you nauseous and tired whenever it does manage to mask moderate pain.) At 2AM, sure I was about to pass out or die, I went to the local ER and got, you guessed it, more Percoset, which had no effect whatsoever aside from knocking me out until daybreak.
Next morning a friend did some masterful Googling and found an endodontist who would open his office on Sunday. Despite inflicting extreme discomfort, he turned out to be the nicest, kindest doctor I've ever met. He thought that the dead nerve in my tooth was caused by a long-ago trauma--maybe I fell off my bike as a kid?--and had been irritated to the breaking point during a recent dentist visit. I'm just fine now, although my face looks like a blimp.
While sitting in the dentist's chair praying for the Novocaine to take effect, I sang the entire Friday night service to myself as a distraction and tried to figure out some meaning or reason behind this surreal drama of pain, friendship, unanswered phone calls, and random angels found on the Internet...