Amblin' Alameda: Toothache

Amblin' Alameda: Toothache

Morton Chalfy

Nothing quite focuses the attention like a toothache. Invisible to others, it comes to dominate one's life with its single-minded insistence on being attended to.

Other wounds to the flesh can accomplish the same sort of focus, but only for a while. Usually one can eat and drink and read or watch TV to distract oneself, but a toothache is in a class by itself. Eating and drinking become problematic, and distraction becomes nearly impossible.

The tongue lives in the mouth with the infected tooth and finds it impossible to avoid checking up on it every half minute or so. "Maybe this touch will miraculously heal this horror ... oh no, it made it worse. Again."

This is how I've spent the last several days.

The obvious remedy is dental attention (my appointment follows hard upon this missive) and the hour of the appointment looms as the finish line in a particularly nasty race. The obvious palliative is pain-killing drugs, and for two days I took them religiously, until the upset stomach and woozy head began to rival the insistent pain of the the tooth.

Home remedies provide some small relief for a while. A wet teabag held in the mouth next to the tooth does provide some relief, as does an icepack to the jaw and a mouthful of whiskey held inside the mouth for a long, stinging moment until it numbs the gum. Swallowing will then help numb the mind.

In the focal lens of pain, the rest of life fades into the background. Meals are skipped, and when prepared, consist of mush and liquid and not much of either. A side effect is weight loss - not that I would recommend this diet to anyone else, but a rare gleam of light in the darkness of the past several days is the loss of nearly five pounds. Well, if I have to suffer like this at least there is a payoff.

The day of dental relief came upon me, and the final few hours had a more hopeful cast to them than the first few hours of this ordeal. Fiscal relief will be harder to come by, but will seem inconsequential when I sign the release and agreement to pay. After the pain is gone I may feel differently, but money is a renewable resource, while the pain is eternal until it's dealt with.

Soon the dentist will inject enough Novocaine in my jaw to render me whole again and then will take the steps to keep this particular torture from occurring anew - that's right, a root canal, everyone's favorite pastime.

And so we sing, hi ho, to the first days of spring and the last day of toothache! Hi Ho.