I have been going regularly to an orthodontist for almost three years now. Last year, I felt severe pain coming from one of my right upper molars and I went and consulted another dentist, one who was authorized by Sandiganbayan’s health card. She discovered a gaping hole in my tooth and put three permanent and two temporary fillings’ worth. At least that's what she charged to my health card. She said I should observe if the pain would come back and then I might have to undergo root canal.
Root canal. The name itself sent shockwaves to my brain. Thankfully my tooth behaved afterwards and I forgot about it. I didn’t even mention it to my orthodontist, who to my mind was in-charge of a completely different set of teeth, and should concentrate on the braces on my lower teeth that I wanted to get rid off soon.
A couple of weeks ago The Pain returned with a vengeance. I couldn’t eat ice cream or drink iced tea without getting “electrocuted”. I tried to track down my orthodontist but he was on vacation in faraway Marinduque where he engaged in his other passion, farming. I have surrounded myself with people busier than me (my spiritual directress is a concert singer on the side, so it’s also a challenge to set up appointments with her; my CEFAM counselor is also in-demand, elusive and busy; my travel agent has a full-time job aside from her business… I could go on and on), so I tried to wait patiently for my dentist to come back.
The day he reported to his clinic here at Don Antonio I came knocking at his door. One look at the source of My Pain and he immediately injected me with anesthesia and proceeded with the root canal thing (RCT, as he wrote down on my card). He gave me 50% discount on the procedure. I wish the pain was lessened by 50% too.
I asked him how come I discovered the decay in the tooth too late. He said that was the tendency for dentists like him who were so preoccupied with braces that they overlooked tiny signs of decay. If we had been in the States, that would be called an admission of negligence and would then be obvious basis for a winning lawsuit. I pushed those thoughts at the back of my mind and just said we should be more careful next time. I have always taken care of my teeth so the numbing pain was foreign to me. The next two days I tried to stand it, but last Saturday it became unbearable and no pain reliever could help. I returned to his clinic and he did some magic.
Today while I was helping prepare our lunch I felt as if I got punched on my right cheek. How could one small tooth cause so much damage? Since it was a Sunday I didn’t have the heart to call up my dentist and disturb him on his personal time. I took all sorts of pain relievers – Biogesic, Alaxan, Ponstan - yet here I am still bothered by this blasted tooth.
First thing tomorrow morning, I don’t care if he’s still on the golf course, I would call him. He has the responsibility to make The Pain go away. I missed out on my friend Ria Apostol’s birthday party because I was bedridden in pain today.
So much of pain is like this toothache. We try to maintain our sanity and health by going to doctors and counselors and confessors and trainers, but we always miss out on tiny things which turn out to lead to bigger problems later on. We discover them too late, by which time we would be reeling with pain and angry at ourselves and looking for someone to blame. Toothache is considered on top of the list of physical pains that cause the most discomfort and distress. I have right now several other aches and pains that no amount of anesthesia or pain reliever could cure. Even my spiritual band-aids don't work. I'm confronted by ghosts I have left behind.
This healing process is taking much longer than I wanted. I’m supposed to be excited for my US trip already. My relatives are. My parents are. Yet I haven’t packed a single type of toiletry for this vacation. I’m too busy sulking.