Over the last month, I think almost everything that could’ve gone wrong with me has gone wrong. For instance: Sunburn. Horrible side effects from medication. Nausea. Vomiting. Dry mouth. All of those horror stories you hear listed in the disclaimer on the television drug ads, as the voiceover takes over and the woman rides her fixie with the basket full of daffodils off into the sunset. That all happened. Except for tuberculosis.
Additionally, I had a dentist’s appointment scheduled for next week, which I moved up to this week, because I’d been experiencing a toothache. I though it was being caused by some sinus pressure from allergies. I didn’t think much of it; I think everyone’s had that sinus situation once or twice. But since we’re operating in the realm of my body is no longer doing anything normal, the toothache got worse instead of better, and then localised in one tooth.
By Wednesday, the whole thing became so miserable that I had to call for an emergency appointment. And then I had to duck out of a relatively high-level meeting to rush to the dentist. The dentist took some x-rays, took one look at the films and hustled me upstairs to the endodontist. That doctor reviewed the pictures and said, Root canal. Now. Since I’m already so immunocompromised, the dead nerve had to be removed before an infection set in.
So THAT was happening.
I felt like this:
Hold on a sec, I said, I just need to message my office and let them know that I am having an emergency root canal. It was then that I discovered I had left my blackberry in a taxi between the meeting and the dentist.
So THAT happened.
There I was, numbed to the nose; my face covered with dental instruments; my suit covered up with a bib. Bzzz, whirrr, grrrrr, bzzzz, et voila! I had the dead gunk sucked out of my tooth, and I was quickly patched with instructions to come back the following week for Round Two.
Don’t look so dejected, said the endodontist, you’re going to feel better soon.
We paused for a moment.
There was no cavity in this tooth; the root just died, he continued. Are you sure you didn’t get hit in the face playing sports? Do you play softball; field hockey? Rugby? Lacrosse? Anything? Were you in a car accident?
I was hit by a car a year ago this week. That’s the only thing I can think of. But I wasn’t hit in the face. I might’ve clenched my teeth, though.
That’s likely what happened. Trauma to the teeth can sever the nerve and it looks like that’s what happened here.
It is so easy for me to get caught up in the things that are hurting me lately because I have been in an uncharacteristic amount of physical discomfort. I am used to things working, and the last year of incidents and accidents had left feeling betrayed by my body, and my fellow New Yorkers, and my partners. I was carry around a lot of…junk.
In other words, I had lost sight of how much dead stuff I had accumulated until I started to rot from the inside out, so much so that the the rot could be imaged for the world to see.
It’s funny, you know, to have people tell you that you are a pearl of a girl, but to feel so icky inside — physically, emotionally. When you hear someone say: I’ve never felt this way before! she is typically talking about being in love. Right now, I am talking about the feeling of constantly being on the verge of retching. Of being exhausted. Of getting winded easily. Of becoming lightheaded in an easy Bikram class that, a month ago, would’ve been exhilarating for me.
But what good luck; what revelation to have a root canal this holiday week! Isn’t that what this week is about — getting over the dead stuff; getting past the decay to much greater things? Being chosen; being saved. Redemption. I suppose in those terms of renewal, having the dead sucked out of a bad tooth, so the bone could live was an eerily apt metaphor.
I eventually got back to the office, only to discover that the tech guys had a spare blackberry for me, in anticipation of such emergencies as Meredith Having Another Blackberry Catastrophe.
The thing I’ve learned lately is that sometimes it takes time to realise things are dead, dying, decaying. Other times, it’s more obvious. And sometimes, you have no ideas of the ways you have been hurt until long after the damage is done, and you think you’ve healed from a very long year, then wake up one day with a toothache, and find out that the hit-and-run driver shredded your arm; and Bill shredded your confidence; and somehow between all of that, the lasting legacy was a dead tooth.
The good news is that things that seem complicated simply aren’t; problems that seem painful on their face can be fixed; and people who care can remove the dead, hurting stuff so life can go on in a much better way than before.