Toothache from hell – was my pain worse than yours?

Yesterday  I didn’t function as a business person, in fact I barely functioned at all.

I had toothache, to a level I’ve never experienced before and I’ve given birth three times. It built up over about 24 hours and I did that female thing of thinking it would get better, it would get better, it would get better. Have a paracetamol or two and all will be fine.

However, when I tried to floss the area where the pain seemed to be coming from, I almost fainted. Some one had stabbed me with a fine red hot poker in my mouth.

Toothache - my pain was greater than yours!

Now anyone who knows me, will know that I’m not backward in coming forward about my personal experiences of the health service. When I’m making a dentist appointment I have to wait months, not weeks, to fit my family in for routine checks. My dentist is an NHS dentist so I accept this and book well in advance. My dentist is also a mum of two beautiful girls and she often has time off during school holidays. So you can see the problem? I’m a mum and want to book appointments in the school holidays and my dentist isn’t working. Routine appointments are not instant.

So coping with terrible pain, facing a day of work including an important interview with a contributor for a magazine article, I really didn’t know how I’d get through. I called my dentist, tried to explain and was able to book an appointment for today. Not too bad, indeed quite impressive.

Within two hours, two things changed. My interview was cancelled, not by me. And the pain got even worse. Suddenly 10am today seemed like a month away. It was a mountain too high to climb. I called the dentist again and to my surprise, they fitted me in within the hour.

How I drove there I will never know. The only thing which helped the pain was very cold water, so I had to slurp water every 20 seconds just to stay upright. Luckily my dentist isn’t far away but I was very aware that I was not functioning properly. When I got there I must have looked awful as I was told to go straight up.

My dentist tested the area where the problem lay and I almost hit the ceiling. A failed filling was removed which required three injections so I could cope with the pain. A temporary filling was fitted. With a numb face, I left that a warning that the pain would probably return for a while until things had settled. No abscess, no infection – a crack in the tooth. Would try to save it, but I might end up losing it. So be it.

Reflecting on this experience has made me think two things – how responsive my dental practice was in helping me out and how they understood instantly how much pain I was suffering. Thank you Clyde House Dental Practice of Bath Road, Old Town.

It also made me think more generally about those who are disabled by chronic pain. At about 3am this morning, the pain almost disappeared. It was quite instant and has transformed me, I could go to sleep for a start. I cannot imagine how anyone can deal with strong pain day in and day out and function normally in any way at all.

Just 24 or so hours of this made me look at the experience of at least three people I know who deal with unbelievable pain every hour of every day. You have my respect.



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