Monday Donna says, “I’ve had this tooth that’s been bothering me. Think I’ll call Beverly.” (Not just to share the news—Beverly is actually our friend and dentist, Dr. Murdock.) When Donna goes beyond thinking and the announcement and actually picks up the phone I have my first clue that this tooth must really be hurting—like jackhammer/blowtorch in your mouth hurting—because Donna has excellent, finely honed pain management skills. Skills I do not possess. Anyway. She calls, gets an appointment for Wednesday and spends the time in between dosing up on Aleve with the occasional vodka booster. See I told you it was really hurting.
Wednesday Donna leaves and heads to the dentist. (By the way, Donna who lives in Brooklyn spends so much time in NJ that she goes to the dentist (and dry cleaner, pharmacy, car repair) in my neck of the woods. I say “Sounds like a root canal to me.” I can discern this because I have had more personal experience with root canals than I wish to remember. She has had zip, zero, a novice.
Two hours later Donna returns and says: “Root canal.” But she is able to say this clearly and distinctly—not the garbled, thick tongued, twisted lip speak that usually follows time in the dental chair. She takes her antibiotic, some more Aleve and we return to work on the new (2010) book. Two hours later the dentist induced anesthetic has worn off, the pain meds aren’t working too well and Donna says to me: “She says I may need to see a root specialist.” I say, “And this slipped your mind until now?” Donna says, “It was all too much for one afternoon. But it still hurts kinda bad.” At which point I know that the pain she is enduring would drive most folks screaming into the street. Example: Donna once endured in-office surgery under the influence of Valium only—not even a bullet to bite on.
Later Wednesday evening, confident that the morrow will mark the end of the tooth issue, Donna goes home for the long holiday weekend. I go out. (I called it “plans.” Donna says it’s a “date”)
Thursday morning I wake up to this email:
So, the aleve was gone, by 8pm, which made my drive home really fun. The bad news--the tylenol w/codeine is no better. I took two when I got home. Another one 1 1/2 hours later. By about 12:15 the pain was manageable--not gone, but manageable. I'll call Beverly's office and see if she can prescribe something stronger, because although it's better than last night, it's still bad. I'm driving down after Mom's dr visit.
Thursday mid afternoon Donna and her Mom show up—they have been to Beverly AND the aforementioned “root guy.” Who has performed surgery. Donna looks like a chipmunk with her store of food for the winter (or a wad of chewing tobacco) tucked into her left cheek. She also has stronger drugs which she does not take because she’s still got to drive back to Brooklyn.
Late Thursday afternoon Donna’s Mom calls me to say they have arrived safely, Donna’s taken the Oxycodone and gone to bed.
I have PLANS.
I check my Blackberry a little after midnight and find this email:
So, I thought that since I'd graduated to oxycodone, that my pain troubles were over. Which worked for the first dose. The label said I could take it every 4-6 hours, as needed and being a good dooby, I was trying to make it to the long end of the spectrum. BIG MISTAKE. I got to 4 hours and 10 minutes, realized I was in deep doodoo and took a pill. That was at 9 o'clock. I am now trying to keep myself occupied until 1am so I can take the next one and not remove the left side of my face. I don't think I'm gonna make it. My left jaw and chin looks like it was transplanted from Clark Kent. The whole left side hurts--even my lips. Great way to start a holiday weekend.
I had been in the ladies room, feeling annoyed because I had something stuck between my teeth and no floss. I stopped feeling annoyed. I am contrite. I email back:
I'm so soooo sorry. You have to be on the early side of pain meds--no matter what it is. The dosing instructions are ALWAYS on the cautious side. Which doesn't work when in pain!!! Take before the 4hr mark.
Holiday? What holiday!?
I shall skip over the rest of my night and zip right to this morning when I awaken and find this email:
Been up since 4:30--definitely on the early side of the pain meds. I was contemplating whether I was going to have to call this man today, which I didn't want to have to do. But I figured out that sitting up works better than laying down. I still have Superman's jaw, but it's not throbbing. If it's not down I'm gonna have to call in tomorrow. My eyes were red-red this morning. They rarely are. So it's gonna be a chair day. I'm gonna try and get some more sleep. I'm pretty tired.
I write back:
are you icing the swelling? they always gave me ice packs at the dentist after surgery.
Have you found a comfy sitting up/resting chair?
Knowing full well that if she’s at the desk emailing me she is not comfy or resting.
Will keep you posted. I’m going to watch Jaws just to keep things in perspective.