All I have to show for my 1997 root canal is a crown and a seasonal toothache.
Every year I get this pain and I think my teeth are rotting inside my head. I rush to the dentist for x-rays. The dentist tells me everything’s intact, and it’s not my crown that hurts because there are no nerves there. It’s just sinus pressure. Take an antihistamine, grin, and bear it.
So when the first pangs surfaced last Wednesday, I remembered this and saved myself a trip to the dentist. A long trip since my dentist is still in St. Louis. He opted not to relocate with us.
Then Thursday night I woke up to searing, constant pain. Perhaps I’d made a misdiagnosis. Maybe this was more than sinus pressure.
The next day was Good Friday. While my husband gathered Reese’s peanut butter eggs at Walmart for Easter baskets, I frantically loaded up on the OTC.
But the OTC couldn’t kick it. My jaw was on fire. Surely a mutant borer was tunneling through my bicuspids. A microscopic mole was burrowing out a den in the swollen, pink flesh of my gums. My crown would soon explode.
By Friday evening, I was self-medicating with leftover Naproxen I’d found in our medicine cabinet. By Saturday morning, I was in urgent care. Why do these things always happen on holiday weekends?
The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and a pain med. I spent the rest of the weekend floating through pain-free episodes of Easter wonderment and excruciating dips between doses. Simply glad to be alive.
The antibiotic was in full force come Monday morning, so the pain had subsided. Made my husband drive me to see a dentist in our new city anyway. Certainly a sane dentist would sedate me immediately and surgically remove the nuclear warhead lodged in my mouth.
“Your crown is intact, and I think we can save it,” said the dentist. “We used to believe there were only three nerves involved in a root canal. Now that we have better technology, we know there are four nerves.”
Or thirty-seven, I thought.
“You need another root canal to get that fourth nerve,” he said.
The dentist’s colleague who does this type of root canal can’t see me until the end of the month for a consult to schedule the procedure.
Are you kidding? Do it now! No, it’s not hurting at this moment, but I don’t ever, ever want to have that pain again.
Pain is a such strange beast. We hate it, yet we need it. It tells us when something is oh-so wrong. Tells us when we need to move, change, or get help. Fight or flee. Steels us inside so we can endure more than we thought possible. And when we’re in pain, we know without a doubt what’s important and what’s not.
Part of me abhors calling pain a gift. Another part of me marvels that it is.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 NIV
This is where the Healing Begins. Tenth Avenue North.