Holy cow, ho-leeee-cow, it wasn't so much toothache as whole, entire one side of my face-ache (I've been called that!) It was hell. It came in contractions, regular contractions just like you know what. Most of them actually made me cry (the toothache ones not the child birth ones which is odd come to think of it) and I don't cry easily. (That's absolutely not true, I cry all the time now. Happy or sad, I drip all over the place, must be my hormones. I'd be a brilliant actress.) So yes, that was last week. For three days before I finally gave in and went to see a dentist. I don't do dentists which is patently precisely why I found myself in such agony. I've been to a dentist twice in the last twenty odd years and both times it was a case of just removing the offending
bastard tooth because it was the furthest back at the top, I could manage perfectly well without it and you wouldn't see the gap unless I learned to grin like The Joker or was flat on my back with my mouth very wide open... for some reason.
Removal was preferable to hours of a tense, white knuckle, dentist's chair ride in an effort to save the offender. (Though it took less time I still had white knuckles and hyperventilated, I am pathetic.) However, you can only do this so many times - twice in fact, one tooth each side - before you start looking a bit equine. "Three days?" I hear you cry, "You managed to hold out for three days?????" Well yes, as explained above I don't rush to see dentists.
I also have a caring husband who told me on day one of the agony that it would be cheaper to go to Thailand to get it fixed! He was right (of course) you wouldn't believe how expensive dentists are in Australia but, putting that aside for a moment, I just wasn't sure I could organise my life quite quickly enough to be able to spend a week in Thailand getting all my teeth fixed and, while I'm there, I might as well get everything else I possibly can fixed too. (That's one long list!) Don't you just love 'em? Husbands not dentists. Oh god, imagine them being one and the same - if you were married to one!!! There's a subject for another post, being married to your dentist/gynaecologist.... someone told me a story recently of a woman who's gynaecologist told her he couldn't be her gynaecologist (have you noticed I can spell that? I was once, briefly, a medical secretary) any more and when she asked why he said it was because he wanted to take her out! (He meant 'take her out' in the romantic sense not the 'putting her flat on her back' sense.... oh, you know what I mean!) Anyway, how's that for a romantic "so how did you two meet then?" story! Sorry, no, couldn't be married to a gynaecologist. (Do you hear that collective sigh of relief?) Hence the decision to 'go local' was made and I took the recommendation of a friend who has recently taken herself and her family to a practice smack in the middle of town; Highlands Dental.
So there I was. Crikey (as they say down here) they've changed a bit in twenty odd years!!! (You can't count the two visits I have made because they were brief, under duress, huge duress and I was in such a state it was almost an out-of-body experience.) I was greeted by the sweetest young girl called Debbie who gave me such an empathetic look as she said, "you must be Jacqueline". I had explained on the phone that I was, to put it mildly, in a world of pain. My dear friend was there waiting for her daughter who was having a couple of fillings. (Did I mention that we live in a small town?) She and I usually laugh a lot when we are together but this time was a bit different. Though it was lovely having her there and we managed to joke a bit about her being my 'emergency contact' (I had to fill in the form for new patients) as the more obvious choice had suggested I bear the discomfort a bit longer and get on with organising our next family holiday. My friend's daughter appeared, reassuringly chirpily, and I shuffled into the chair in her place. Then out of the chair for x-rays and back in the chair for a chat with the reassuringly soothing (and older than me, no offence, always a reassuring sign!) dentist about which tooth looked the most likely culprit... then Debbie gave me a small pack of horse-strength painkillers and thoughtfully offered me a little plastic cup of water so I could take the first one there and then before I was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and an appointment to return the next day.
All I can say is that I hope horses don't get toothache too often. Those painkillers barely touched the sides, I was popping them like Smarties and to no avail. Still the contractions came and went, relentlessly, all night and all the next day. I was counting down the hours until my appointment, one of the most bizarre things I've ever done. Debbie was there, still smiling compassionately. She must have thought I was pathetic, a great big grown woman behaving like a three year old! She took me in, sat me in the chair and we talked about sedation. Yes, sedation! Fantastic, what do you have?! As I said, dentists really have come a long way recently and it appears that I'm far from alone in being a trifle anxious. Once a month, on a Friday, they have an anaesthetist at the surgery! Now you're talking... she said patients are taken to the point of being almost out cold but apparently they can follow instructions like 'open your mouth' perfectly. And best of all, they often don't remember anything about their visit! Sadly (big understatement) although it's Friday it's not the right Friday. She said that those Fridays are completely booked out for decades and they are going to try to organise more but that's no use to me right now. But Debbie is still smiling. Debbie knows something.
Debbie tells me about the Green Whistle. (I didn't know what it was either) . Apparently it's what the paramedics carry in the ambulances now, it acts as both a relaxant and a painkiller. You suck hard on this thing that looks a bit like a short penny whistle with a mysterious clear tube on the top containing the special ingredient that looks like black peppercorns. They click and shake and mix the ingredients and a noxious smelling gas is produced. Debbie tells me it tastes pretty disgusting but that I will only notice it for the first few breaths... and she's right. "Hang on", I said, "is this anything like that gas they give you in childbirth??? I sucked my way through a whole canister of that stuff and it did nothing!" She assured me that, although she hadn't tried the gas and air option, she felt sure this one would work. So I'm trying to drag in and hold huge lungfuls of Green Whistle while a second pretty blonde girl bustles in to get something and, as she sees me, says "Oh yum!" She apparently whistled when she had some dental work done recently and just loved it! Incidentally, I spotted her name badge... it said Grace Kelly. Lucky for her parents, I thought, that she turned out so utterly gorgeous, it would be a real bummer to have a name like that and look like the back end of a bus. I knew of a girl yonks ago called Elizabeth Taylor and, very recently here in Australia, a Mrs Kelly who called her son Ned - NTS (note to self) must ask Grace if she has a brother - who, for those of you not being held down under (?) was an Irish Australian bushranger and murderer who sported a somewhat unusual home-made tin helmet. He has of course since made his way into folklore, I should imagine Mel Gibson is writing the script as we speak. Anyway, naming your children after very famous people... that's for another discussion. I'm not sure whether the whistle worked or not but I have to admit that I had root canal work and I didn't feel a thing! How odd?