Has anyone ever had an abscessed tooth? If you have answered yes, let me cut you off and say, god bless your soul. That was truly the most pain I've been in for quite some time. And I've already had my wisdom teeth removed, been through childbirth (twice), and had a broken ulna.
I truly despise going to the dentist with a passion, even for cleanings. I have this horrible gag reflex (for which I have no explanation or really know why it happens) and depending on the hygienist and how gentle/forceful he or she is; some cleanings are worse than others.
Just to give you an example: On the Official Michelle Scale of Anxiety for Medical-Type Procedures this is how going to the dentist ranks (#1 being the worst, #10 the best).
- 1. The Dentist
- 2. Bloodwork
- 3 – 9. Everything else
- 10. Childbirth
That's right, it is a very scientific scale. I'd rather go through child birth a third time than go to the dentist any day of the week. In addition to my anxiety for dental procedures and the gag reflex thing, I also suffer quite frequently from vasovagal syncope. That is the fancy schmancy medical term for fainting. If I get upset/anxious enough I will go down like a ton of bricks. I have had this happen to me 3 times in my life, 2 of which occurred during bloodwork in addition to a number of "close calls". Sometimes I'm able to control the fainting, but sometimes I can't and will faint not realizing it until I'm being wheeled to the ER on a gurney. The time before last that I went to my usual dentist, I nearly fainted in the chair after the cleaning was over. Luckily, that was one of the times I was able to control it.
So there is your background. Then around comes July 19th…i.e. my parent's anniversary. The day started out fairly normal, and then after lunch i started getting this shooting pain in the back of my mouth on the left side. I took 2 of my co-workers ibuprofen and hoped for the best. I do get some aches and pains in my teeth from time to time and they usually pass within a few hours or over night. Not this time…after a few hours the side of my face was throbbing. I could actually feel it pulsing. The pain became the only thing I could think about. It consumed me. Around 3pm, I called my usual dentist, who I now refer to as "Dr. Asshole", to see if I could schedule an emergency appointment. They were unable to take me in on the same day, but did call in a script for vicodin for me. The only open appointment was the next day at 11am…and he was triple booked because he was going on vacation the following week. What could I do? I took the appointment and accepted the fact that I would be losing pay for the next day (since at that point, I was still in a probationary period with the new job). Since I had class that evening, I went and picked up the vicodin, popped one and again…hoped for the best. It was a long two hours and I was starved by the time I got out.
Eating was a joke. All I could think about attempting was liquid. I got a water and a chicken rice soup from the chinese place near the school. I took another vicodin….I was FLOATING.
I woke up the next morning again hoping that the pain was gone. It wasn't. In fact, it got a little worse. Popped another vicodin. I felt it kick in, but I still felt the pain and throbbing through the pina colada cocktail of meds. I got dressed and headed for the dentist. At Dr. Asshole's office, there is one hygienist that I really like and one that I really hate. Of course I got the one that I really hate…the sadist that has a picture of an english springer spaniel (which looks exactly like my parents dog) on her shelf. She wanted to get an X-Ray. Fine. Except for the fact that she shoves this thing in my face with such force that I nearly saw stars from the pain of it touching the infected tooth and then I nearly puked from my gag reflex. Instead of giving me a minute to compose myself, she tries to shove it in my face again. Then I start to remember that she's the one who asked if I was pregnant the last time I showed up and I start to resent her a little bit more. At that point she gets pissed off and retorts "Ugh. You're just going to have to wait for Dr. to take the X-Ray". Meanwhile, Dr. Asshole is in the stall next to me, apparently
torturing giving a filling to a young girl. Let me just tell you that hearing a child scream at the top of their lungs for a half hour is not a reassuring feeling right before you are getting a dental procedure.
Dr. Asshole finishes up with her and walks in and says "What's going on Michelle?" I started telling him about the pain I was in, he starts probing in my mouth to see where it was. Then he and the hygienist conspire against me and both some how manage to get the X-Ray before I feel like I'm going to puke my guts up (more on that later). He looks at it and tells me it doesn't look like anything is wrong. Huh? I'm like well I'm dying. And he says well, it sounds like nerve pain, I'm going to numb you up. Huh? How about explain to me what the hell you are doing before you start shoving stuff in my face? And then I made the mistake of asking if I could be knocked out to do whatever he was doing and he nearly flipped a shit. He basically kicked me out and told me to go and see this other dentist, a sedation dentist, and he'll be able to help me further….but in the meantime here's a script for an antibiotic and good luck. Don't let it fester.
The whole thing happened so fast. Like literally one minute I was in the chair. Then the next minute I was walking out the door. Not to mention I was hysterically crying because I didn't know what was happening and the pain was so intense. I think I next called my manager and explained to her what was going on, but I was upset and don't really remember the conversation context which probably means I didn't make any sense on the phone. I then called this other sedation dentist to see about getting an appointment. Yeah. Good luck with that. The receptionist told me he was book solid for 3 months which made me even more upset. Sunglasses on, midday, I was driving down Wyoming Ave bawling hysterically…..what the hell am I going to do now?
In a moment of clarity, I drove to CVS and got the script filled and tried to call Dr Asshole's office back to explain the situation, but HOW CONVENIENT…the entire office was out on lunch. Yeah. Thanks. For nothing.
I started driving back toward my house and then thought of the name of dentist that was sorta kinda close to my house. I will refer to him as Doc Hollywood, DMD. Doc Hollywood looks like something straight out of…well…a movie. Every year, his office comes and does a program at my kiddo's daycare about dental hygiene. I had a magnet on my fridge with his number for years. One of my former co-workers also went to him and said he was really good and was a sedation dentist as well. I figured what the hell do I have to lose, and called the office. No one answered, but I did leave a message rambling on about my problem. Within 10 minutes someone from the office called me back and asked if I could come in at 2pm, but to bring my X-Ray's from Dr. Asshole. Dr. Asshole never gave me the X-Rays. so I had to drive all the way the hell back to Kingston from Harveys Lake to get the X-Rays.
Fast forward to 1:30, I pick up the X-Rays and drive all the way back to Dallas. I find the office with no problem and wait to be called in from the waiting room. When I was called back, I showed the hygienist the X-Ray and she calls in Doc Hollywood who introduces himself politely and shakes my hand. They both determine that the X-Ray Dr. Asshole took was crap and shows nothing, so he wanted to take his own. The hygienist gently puts the thing in my mouth and gets an X-Ray w/ no problem. Doc Hollywood doesn't believe that I have a gag-reflex at this point because the whole thing went so smoothly. He then examines my mouth and again remarks how I didn't have any issues with the gag-reflex. After the X-Ray is ready he knows that I have a bad dental abscess and the tooth is infected and that I will need a root canal. He told me that he was too busy to do it that day, but will try to work me in as soon as he can. In the meantime, the office schedules an appointment for August 2nd (i. e. 3 weeks away) to finish the root canal?
I started to freak out. 3 weeks with this amount of pain? I started crying again. The ladies at the front desk reassured me not to worry, they have cancellations all of the time, and they will work me in as soon as someone cancels. In the meantime, I go home and the pain escalates once again. I ended up calling the telenurse at Blue Cross to see what the hell I could do for it. I considered going to the ER. I considered smashing myself unconscious with a sledgehammer to the face. She advised I should call Doc Hollywood's answering service and tell him how much pain I was in. I did and Doc Hollywood called me back and told me it was ok to take 2 advils and taking vicodins every 4 hours instead of every six. This somehow helped and I was able to fall asleep that night. The next day, he was able to work me in for an appointment at 2pm. I went to work for a few hours and attempted to be pleasant while having to talk on the phone. It really wasn't working out. I left at 1:30 to go to the appointment.
He numbed me up and gassed me up with nitrous oxide. I was also under the influence of advil and vicodin. I was higher than a kite. At one point I was thinking to myself, "Oh my god, why am I screaming out loud like that?" Then I realized that the noise was coming from the TV. Then I realized suddenly that I was at the dentist. I said to myself…"Hey! Look at that, I'm at the dentist. I did have to come here today, and here I am. Ain't that some shit?" The dental work was HELL even with all of the drugs and gas. But I somehow managed to get through it. Doc Hollywood was able to drain the abscess (or whatever) and medicate the tooth and seal it off. He told me to avoid chewing on that side until he completes the rest of the work on Aug 2nd.
That night, he called me and asked how I was doing. He seemed genuinely concerned for my well being….go figure. I should point out that Dr. Asshole didn't follow-up with me at all or check in to see if I got the tooth taken care of. Friday came around and I was still in a lot of pain. Rich called Doc Hollywood and explained how much I was hurting and once again, being concerned, he prescribed a stronger antibiotic and more pain meds. Doc Hollywood finished up the work on August 2nd and after a few days of soreness, I'm back to my old self again.
I never, ever, EVER want to be in that much pain again. Doc Hollywood also was able to determine that some of the work done by Dr. Asshole wasn't done well and found/filled two cavities that have been missed. He is a really good dentist who does care about his patients. So guess who has a new dentist? This guy right here. Doc Hollywood, you won me over.