Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Truth about the Tooth


Couldn't find a picture of lavendula dentata so this will have to do.

Some decades ago the boyfriend I was besotted with, asked me if I would drive him to the Outpatients for an operation to remove his wisdom tooth. Not my idea of  romantic day out.. but just being with him was surely enough, even in the drab, depressing waiting room of an ageing hospital A&E.

Whilst we were sat waiting for him to be called in - he dumped me! Yes.. there and then in the clinical confines of casualty.  Perhaps he thought the atmosphere would protect him from my wrath and hysteria. He was wrong.  "Why are you doing this now?" I howled, unable to believe the dreadfulness of it all.  "Because I thought I would get all the misery of the tooth and you dealt with at the same time!" he replied. I pulled myself up and spat at him "Well I hope it fucking hurts!"as I stomped out of the waiting room and drove home through a black mist of emotional gloom and tears.

I am reminded of this charming little anecdote by the continuous pain that has been emanating from the area of my wisdom tooth for the past two months.  Three dentist and two doctors over a period of five weeks proclaim that it is not the tooth, coming up with a range of possibilities from sinuses to trigeminal neuralgia.  [You really don't want to have trigeminal neuralgia - I know because I've spent a lot of time on the web reading about it and becoming increasingly depressed at the possibility.]

I see a 'consultant'.  It is not a good time of year for 'consultants' because they are mostly spending their ill-gotten gains on holidays but the one who isn't sunning himself in the Bahamas sees me.  I tell him it feels exactly like toothache and that the pain only goes away when I take painkillers and I've been taking painkillers for six weeks.  When I see any of these bods I don't take the painkillers in order not to mask the excruciating pain so they will get more of a clue what is wrong with me. "It's not the tooth" he pronounces finally in a 'that's it and goodbye' kind of way.  I throw an emotional strop, wailing on about the pain and the effect it is having on my ME and how I can't go on... blah blah.  His secretary takes pity on me and fixes up a brain and sinus scan there and then.  It is a tuesday and by a fortuitous coincidence the brain and sinus scan van happens to only be there on tuesdays!  They rush me down to the van before I get chance to become too hysterical.  I've seen House.  I know the minute I get shoved head first into the scanning machine I will have a massive panic attack and then blood will start spurting from my eyes. Nobody reassures me - or indeed says anything other than mumbling "a couple of minutes" when I ask how long I will be stuck in this tube.  I close my eyes, feel the table I am laid out on slide into the machine, a whirring noise starts, I try and think nice calming thoughts but can only remember episodes of House.  Two minutes later I am out and told to come back in a week for the results.  In the meantime just keep taking the tablets.

I am like a Sock with a sore head.  I have never really considered the possiblity of what it could be other than tooth or sinuses. If we don't know what it is we can't cure it and I may face a lifetime of pain from some unspecific facial neuralgia. I have already used up my sympathy allowance from most of my friends and dare not whine on about it anymore which is a problem as  I have nothing else to say - it is all consuming.  I single out Fat Rascal to take the brunt of it. She lives up a mountain in France and surely any news from the homeland is better than none.  Fat Rascal doesn't watch House but sends extracts of my whingeing email to M. in Paris who does, and in fact quite enjoys hearing about health problems.  An email wings it's way back from  Fat Rascal.  "M. in Paris suggests that the bad news is that if it is House then it will almost certainly be some Japanese brainworm you have picked up on your travels - the good news is that if it is House then he will cure you with a short course of anti-bios."

Reassured that at least I am not alone in my fears that it is a brainworm of some description I go back to see the consultant.  "The good news is that your brain and sinus scan are completely clear, no sign of tumours, cancer, sinus problems or anything".   "So could it be the tooth?" I ask.  "I don't think so as that didn't show any problems either."  "Well how about you try anaesthetising the tooth and then if the pain goes away that might indicate that it is indeed the tooth?" I suggest.  "Yes we can try that but as you have taken painkillers already we will have to make another appointment."  I am wondering how much I should charge for my advice.

The consultant decides at this point to take his holiday - there's a surprise.  Whilst he is away I find the pain is worse but the good news is that if I swill cold liquid over the tooth the pain is sudden and beyond excruciating  - like someone digging a red hot screwdriver into my gum.  This now happens every time I swill cold liquid on it and is, in my opinion, conclusive proof that it is the tooth - which is what I said all along.

Lets hope that I am nearly out of the woods on this one.  If someone doesn't fix it or yank it out soon I will pull the bastard out myself with a pair of pliers. It's spoiled my summer but its not like there has really been a summer to spoil. Let's just hope that I have got the misery of the pain and the rain over with at the same time.


John said...

After all this and it boils down to a wisdom tooth? Why not tell medical science to get stuffed, go to your dentist and ask him/her to remove it forthwith? You seem to have nothing to lose (apart from a wisdom tooth and, IME, most wisdom teeth are better removed than left anyway). Then, if the pain ends you can make a complaint, sue, sew, darn and generally put your foot down until someone at least says sorry.

Nick said...

I spent a year telling my dentist that I had a problem with a tooth - nothing like as painful as yours, but extremely tender, and VERY heat sensitiive. He spent a year x-raying it, telling me it was fine, and that I should use sensitive toothpaste.
Eventually, he reluctantly agreed to try a root filling, and during that conceded that there was indeed a problem, and that it would have been better if it had been sorted out earlier!
Moral: dentists aren't always as smart as they think! Stand your ground and it'll get sorted!

James A-S said...

Speaking as a qualified Dental practitioner I suggest that you tie a length of string to the offending tooth, attach that string to a doorhandle and wait for somebody to slam the door.

It always worked in the Dandy.

Arabella Sock said...

My previous dentist did an unnecessary root canal on one of my front teeth as I was getting unexplained pains which I kept asking him could it be sinuses and he said that was impossible. It was the sinuses. For the first few weeks I was willing to believe that it was a sinus problem (this possibility is now widely recognised) as nothing showed up on the tooth X-rays. When sinuses were excluded they should have been more open-minded about it being the tooth as they admitted I could have a hairline crack in it which wouldn't show up.

Sometimes if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like crazy then the chances are it is, in fact, a duck!

I'm not a wuss about my teeth, had a load of work done without anaesthetic including the root canal as I was worried about possibility of anaesthetics making my ME worse (it turns out they don't) but also prefer a momentary pain to a numb face for hours. What amazes me is the cavalier attitude towards pain management (just keep taking the ibruprofen) and the fact that people are sent away with 'nowhere to go' in terms of what they can do to help themselves. This is private health too (although I have paid 2 different dentists to tell me there was nothing wrong with the tooth). If I had gone through the NHS for the consultants appointment I would still be waiting for it.

James - I have a vague memory of tying thread to wobbly front milk teeth and doing the door trick. Not sure it actually worked and don't have great hopes on it working on a wisdom tooth. But any idea is better than no idea so I'll give it a go!

Anonymous said...

Argh. Inexplicable pain and a bunch of firmly blank-faced medical figures does not sound like fun. (And what a horrific break-up story!!)
I love House, but fortunately my spins in the scanner haven't been as eventful as depicted either, although definitely claustrophobic. Neither have I been diagnosed with lupus, which is always a relief :) It was not a good plan to watch Scary Movie the night before the last MRI I had, as the scene where a girl is trapped in a similarly shaped sunbed kept going through my mind as it clicked and whirled and shrieked around me, trying to lie still :S.
Hope that you resolve the tooth ache soon!

VP said...

Oh no, so it continues!

My BIL had trigeminal neuralgia - he had occasional bouts of absolutely excruciating pain which were completely different to what you're describing.

Fingers crossed it IS the tooth because then something can be done about it. I've never had wisdom teeth, from what I've heard about everyone's troubles with them, I count myself lucky.

Helle (Helen) said...

Do you know Emil in Lönneberga? A Swedish series of books about a naughty, but very funny, boy. One of the episodes is all about how the maid needs to get a very sore tooth out, lots of good - or not - advice is given on how to extract the damn thing. James A-S's is in there, as it tying a piece of string to a horse's tail and giving the horse a whack so it'll gallop off!!

Hope you the damn thing sorted soon - those expensive know-it-alls can be a right pain in the a..., especially considering they often seem to know so little.

Christina said...

I love reading your bits and pieces when I remember to, and especially your lovely lovely Japanese garden holiday (blog recommended on friend Jane Powers' onebeanrow one).
Sorry to hear about tooth/neuralgia. Am prompted to write to offer hope that it won't be excruciating pain stretching from here to eternity. I had a similar thing, and ended up taking Gabapentin and diclofenac for trigeminal neuralgia and was similarly depressed about the prospect of it continuing (freaked out by tales of unremitting TN online...) Had several b****y awful weeks of horrible pain night and day (having to sit bolt upright at night for a bit of relief, leading to dribbling whilst doing a teensy bit of snoozing).Think it related to pressure in that area though was apparently not an abscess. Doctor convinced not dental. I think it abated eventually, but the tooth did end up having root canal treatment some way down the line, I think. Main message: would like to think you'll be feeling much better shortly!

janerowena said...

I had a similar experience - it lasted from September right around to the following January, and involved two dentists, a consultant and a large abcess before one dark and stormy evening about 20 minutes before the dentist was about to shut, half of my tooth fell out. I got there just in time, he extracted the rest and apologised profusely. As you mentioned before, it had been a hairline crack that no x-ray had been able to pick up. I'm really hoping for your sake that that is all it is. It was very wearing.

Arabella Sock said...

You will all be really interested to know that I am now toothless! Or at least one wisdom tooth down on a full set. The consultant finally admitted it was the tooth last Friday when I told him it was very sensitive and he tried putting some freezing liquid on it and my reaction left him in no doubt. So he sent me back to the dentist!!! What is the point of him if he couldn't even extract a tooth himself so I had to pay a dentist to do it.

Although I'm not usually at all concerned about dental stuff I had completely lost confidence in everyone by this time so I was really quite scared. It was OK though, totally anaesthetised that area and it came out easily. The anaesthetic itself was fairly unpleasant inasmuchas it made me feel like the back of my throat was closed and I would start choking.

So that is that. I had the first full night's sleep I have had in two months. All I need to do now is get over my probable addiction to painkillers.

Thanks for your comments and sympathy everyone.

janerowena said...

Did you find out what the cause was?

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Jro

Well it was obviously the tooth as although bit sore from the extraction the horrible pain has gone. Unfortunately the whole experience has given me yet another bad ME relapse and I am slumped on the sofa feeling miserable and angry. I can see that they needed to check out sinuses and other possibilities but for all these doctors and dentists to refuse to accept the possibility after I had been in pain for weeks it was the tooth just because nothing showed on the X-rays is disgraceful and now I'm paying the price for it both financially and health wise.

Not a happy Sock at all.

Yan said...

I think you've been extremely brave. I hope the Sad Sock effect disappears quickly and you are back to your usual Cashmere self again soon.

janerowena said...

I think I was hoping that they could look at the tooth/gum and see what had gone wrong in the first place. But I really really do sympathise - mine went on for almost three months 2 dentists and a specialist before it split in half. I was using clove oil, sore throat spray and anyone's painkillers I could lay my hands on.

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Jro - for some reason your comment went into moderation and I only just found it. Most odd.

I hardly dare read my previous comments - so bad-tempered and now the pain has been gone a while it is difficult to remember how awful it was. I wasn't getting at you just having a general rant! Three months of it must have been hideous for you.

janerowena said...

It was - which is why I don't think you were being at all overly bad-tempered. I even started thinking I had cancer of the jaw or something!