It's time now to put this to rest. I am well past it, it happened years ago. I no longer freak out from the minor pain I get when my gums bleed - which happens regularly due to immune suppression.
There is this clever sentiment, often used by instructors in meditation, that toothache is only a toothache because the moment it's gone, we cannot remember what it was really like. But let me tell you that is not true. I used to remember. To the point of panicking.
But first things first. Spring 2007. We are getting ready to visit our daughter who is studying in SE Asia. The flights are booked, the bags are in the process of being packed. The necessary vaccinations are done etc. and I develop a nagging tooth ache. Just as well, we say, let's check our teeth before we head into the jungles. The dentist finds nothing wrong, adjust some surfaces, rinses my gums and we agree that I may need one of these newfangled bite rails, but postpone this until our return. The tooth ache progresses beyond nagging, however, and I am back within 48 hours. This time x-rays without any clue and prophylactic antibiotic. Three days later, I am back with by now considerable pain. The dentists decides to drill into a crown on the off chance that there's a hidden something or other.
I cut it short here. Nothing was found to be wrong with the teeth but on the morning of our - now cancelled - flights, molar no. 1 was extracted, I drove home chewing on a wad of tissue and cried. The pain got worse. Over the next four weeks tissue samples from inside my mouth were taken to identify possible causes of infection, six courses of antibiotics were administered, two more molars were extracted, countless dry sockets were scraped with sharp spoons, layered with tissue soaked in antibiotics, clove oil and various anti-inflammatory agents, rinsed and scraped again and again. Eventually, we are now well into summer, a small part of the jaw bone was sliced off.
By now, I had been given every painkiller known to dentistry, local and full anesthetics when necessary and also when not, people held my hands, stroked my face, wiped my tears. The hole in my upper jaw was no longer infected but simply would not heal. And never for a minute did it stop hurting. It was a fabulous summer for soft fruit and plums but I climbed the walls in pain unable to eat or sleep.
Enter morphine. It did the trick. No more pain. NO. MORE. PAIN. But what next? I was not going to live my life propped up by morphine. Have you any idea what it does to your digestion? By that time, I was on seemingly - forever sick leave, had lost a lot of weight, our daughter had returned and watched with helpless worry. In the end, I found an expert in pain management therapy, who reduced the dosage in minute steps over a period of, I think, two years? And shortly after I had left it all behind me, had briefly chanted "no drugs ever again for me" with the hole more or less closed and healed, I got the diagnosis of the shitty chronic disease and during one of the initial meetings, the immunologist warned me to watch for possible wound healing disorders, especially in connection with inflammation of facial nerves and there you have it.
Unrelated music for balance.