Saturday, 6 October 2007

the tooth, the tooth

it's been a slow few days and pre race training has suffered what with the gap in sweden, nasty cold on return and to cap all of that, an infection in my wisdom tooth.

colds bother me these days but if you've indulged in a hefty nicotine habit you have to expect fragile lungs and mostly i manage to avoid them or grin and bear it. teeth now are a different thing. i've got pretty good teeth and me and dentists don't have to see each other much except that is for a recurring wisdom tooth infection. i get it maybe once, twice a year especially after prolonged drinking or illness. so i was none too surprised to feel a swelling starting after the cold.

most times i don't bother with the dentist. it's a struggle to get them to part with a prescription for metronidazole and analgesia i can manage for myself. but not this time! after a day i had to get T to get me to the dentist who, looking in my mouth only said 'oh dear'. it wasn't pretty. i worked the next four nights which, though painful, was better than being at home with nothing to do but pain. more dentist and i welcomed the injections and removal of bits of gum. small beer compared to the previous pain. a week later and it's finally receding but i'm left thinking about the whole experience.

i'm used to pain. if i've not fallen off, run into or been hit by something, it's chronic damage due to all of the above. but it's distant pain, feet, back, not my face. plus it's musculoskeletal pain and dealable with. at the most basic level i can rub the hurt, or rest it. not my face! no, the infection hit the nerve so it's nerve pain and there's just nothing going to be working for that. i think about how we treat pain at work, what we give, how long it takes, what it must be like to lie in a room while some stranger takes their time or won't give you what you want because they know better/it's not in the protocol/it's not your prescribed time

and then how pain affects us. i'm heartened to say that people at work notice something is wrong. i'm the leader and i don't do problems from home, it's old school, most likely stupid but i've got my professionalism and that's how i like to be seen so if i'm off form they notice. and it's difficult, difficult not to be snappy, difficult to maintain the things that make me me. normally i'm out and about blethering, at least it looks like blethering but i rarely have a non-planned discourse at work! but i found myself spending more time in the office. i felt i was failing me, failing them. i wished i had a copy of daudet's land of pain. i remembered a man with facial neuralgia, screaming and screaming.

i found myself thinking of a friend of mine who died a few years back. he had undiagnosed back pain. he lived in very rural scotland so it's safe to say his care wasn't what it might have been in a city but whatever, he never got to the bottom of it. i hadn't seen him in a long time but shortly before he died S asked me to maybe look in on him the next time i passed town. i didn't and when he did die i must've driven past where he was lying while the police were searching for him. we don't call it suicide, he just died of an illness he couldn't live with any more.after he was dead his wife dug out some old photos for the kids and one of them remarked that she couldn't remember daddy smiling and how much better he looked. S said that he couldn't stand what he'd become

i'm thinking about this just now, after a day in the sun, how fragile we are, how quickly even who we are can change. we are so lucky for those moments, take them so much for granted. maybe that's what the hospital gives me, the vision of what's coming, and to make the best of it while there's a chance

1 comment:

Marta said...

I hope you feel better now. I cannot think of you suffering.
I have discovered in time how vile I am. Not only I can't think anymore to all the pain I have had at my teeth, or my back, or others, without the feeling of horror pervading...I can't listen to others' pain anymore. I am just vile. I even throw the television away, I can't tolerate pain, not even the vision of it. And proportionally to this absurd incapability and sensitivity, my admiration for those who work with pain is infinite