Friday, June 27, 2008


For the past few months I have been feeling a bit of discomfort in my upper jaw whenever I put pressure on the right side. I would only really feel it when I was washing my face or put my face in my hands... or was smacked in the head by one of my kids. I didn't think anything of it until last week when I felt a bump and realized I had a huge blister looking thing on my gum. Attractive, really.

I called for an appointment with my good friend the dentist and was told to come in that day. Of course, before I left I had to google my symptoms and was told by Dr. WebMD that I most likely had oral cancer. Fantastic. Then on the way to the appointment, there was an add on the radio about oral cancer awareness. And when I got to my appointment they were playing a cheesy informational DVD in the waiting room and wouldn't you know it, they were talking about oral cancer.

When I got into the room I was prepared for the worst. They took a few x-rays and then the doc came in and, without even looking in my mouth, told me the good news. I didn't have oral cancer but I needed a root canal. Whaaaaaaaaaat? No. I do not need a root canal. Thanks though. See ya later, dude. "Not so fast", was his answer and he handed me a script for antibiotics and then proceeded to tell me that if I didn't have a root canal done soon, I was going to die. Well, he didn't say I was going to die, but he might as well have.

On Monday I went for the root canal and I was less than thrilled. Before I had left the previous appointment, the receptionist assured me everything would be fine and that she had, in fact, slept through hers when she had one done. That chick must be used to sleeping on shards of glass and thorns because there was NO way I could have slept through my root canal.

Before the dentist came in to drill, one of the assistants numbed me. I don't like that part, particularly the swab of topical ointment that they put on your gum before they shoot you up. That crap makes me drool and I am too pretty to drool. Once I was numb, the dentist came in to start. Before he started, I asked him if he was going to be nice to me and he said he would, if I was nice to him. Typically we fight so this was a welcome compromise.

I'm known in the office as being his "favorite" because we are constantly arguing. For some reason, my appointments are always scheduled right before his lunch so he's always anxious to get out and he always orders his lunch while he's working on me. How unfair is that?! I can't eat, so why should he? It's practically inhumane to even talk about food in front of a person who clearly cannot eat and won't be able to for a couple of hours. What's worse is sometimes when the appointments go long, he will run off and take a bite of his lunch and then come back to finish his work. I can smell that, jerk!

It wasn't hard to be nice to him at this appointment. I was pretty nervous so I wasn't armed with as much energy and whit as I normally am. He started to drill and everything was fine, until he put the first file into the tooth. That is when I flew out of the chair and hit the wall. I felt EVERYTHING. The tears started immediately and I couldn't stop crying. He pulled the file out right away and tried to ask me what was wrong, but I couldn't exactly talk because my mouth was filled with dental crap and because I was crying too hard. I thought it was pretty obvious I had felt everything, but apparently I was wrong.

He yelled for the girl who numbed me and asked her what the heck happened, and she innocently told him that she had only numbed the front of the area and not behind the tooth. That meant she only numbed one of the nerves, not both. I have no idea what I did to piss her off, but it must have been something serious because I would not have done that to even my worst enemy.

The dentist was really angry with her and was trying to calm me down, but I couldn't stop crying. I birthed 2 children without so much as a tylenol for pain and I was freaking losing my mind over this. It was agony and ugly. He gave me a shot of novocaine right away and gave me some time to calm down. Then he came back and started again, but I could still feel everything. I hadn't calmed down all the way so I was still crying but the crying was getting uglier by the second.

It was in that moment that I realized it wasn't just the pain that was making me cry. I realized that everything wrong in my life could be summed up in that little infected tooth. On the surface, everything was fine and bearable. You couldn't really tell there was even a problem, unless you pushed the right way. But once it was opened up, it all came pouring out. There was no way to control the pain, I just had to let it happen because I did not have any other choice. I couldn't run, I couldn't hide. I had to sit there and take it and try to cope in the best way I possibly could. And what was supposed to help with the pain wasn't helping and there was nothing to help make me feel better beyond that.

That is exactly what the past year has been like for me. I didn't realize until then just how hard it has been. I don't like it and I would like our normal life back now, please. I know that we have to go through this to be stronger and better people, just as I know I had to have a root canal so my tooth would be stronger and better, but come on already. I'm ready to be done. I want my husband and I can't have him. I want my kids to have their father but they can't. I want to be a family and have memories together. I want to be able to talk to him when I want and not wait 4 days for an email from him. I want him home and I want to be home. I want it to be over and I hate that I have to sit through the pain and frustration to get there. I hate not having a choice.

It took 3 more shots of novocaine before I got to the point that I wasn't in severe pain and hysterical, although I cried the entire time and was shaking so bad they couldn't take a clear x-ray. It was miserable. He explained to me that the novocaine probably took so long to work after he gave me the shots because the infection was so bad and the infection and the elements of the novocaine have a tendency to cancel each other out. He said it would hurt for awhile, but I should feel better soon.

The next day the pain was worse and I ended up in his office again. He tried to assure me that everything was fine and the pain I was feeling was normal, but gave me a prescription for vicodin anyway. I didn't take the vicodin. I figured the side effects of that (sleeping for 18 straight hours) would be worse than the pain I was in.

I feel a little better now and so does my tooth. The funny thing is that I didn't realize just how much the tooth was constantly hurting until he fixed it. If I had let the tooth go, it would have been so much worse in the end so it was a good choice to get the root canal done, even though it hurt like the heck. I guess it's the same for dealing with my feelings. I didn't know I was so messed up over this D thing and if I hadn't have gone through this experience, chances are good it would have gotten so bad that I would have ended up shutting down. Even though the pain is lingering, I feel stronger and better and a bit more optimistic that I can make it through the rest of this because I have dealt with how I feel about it. I guess we all need a good "ugly cry" nervous breakdown every once in awhile. Next time though, I'm getting the gas.


Jenn said...

Oh Joanna. Girl, go ahead and have your ugly cry - we all need one once in awhile, and you sure earned yours. Hang in there - you're in the home stretch now.

Sarah said...

I'm sending all the cyber-hugs I can your way JoAnna. I don't know how you and M and all the other military families face such difficulties and uncertainty with such strength and resolve. I hope the next several months fly by for all of you, so you can be together again. And, I'm glad your tooth is starting to feel better too- OUCH!

Margaret said...

Oh Jo, I wish I could give you a huge hug!! You are an amazing mother and wife, and all of this hard work that both you and M are putting in will pay off one day. I have no idea what it's like to be a military wife so I don't know what to say to make you feel better---probably nothing could, but please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, and so is your husband. I am so thankful for M and all of the other soldiers who work so hard to protect our country, all the while living on the other side of the world away from their families. I'm thankful for the wives like you who have no choice but to support their husbands and endure life without their spouses for so long. Sending huge cyber-hugs your way!!! xoxo

Wilma said...

Big, big hugs Joanna.

angela said...

Hi there. OMG you are much more brave than me. I will gladly run into burning buildings or risk hepatitis on some drunken spitter, but willingly allow a dentist with a drill near me AGAIN after the novacaine didn't work the first time? Nuh-uh, oh HE%$ NO! Glad you feel better, and I hope you had a chance to bite the lovely halfwitted assistant.

Also, I have been hanging my head a bit, as it recently popped into the back of my head you had asked me to make something for you. I wanted to. I was absolutely tickled pink you had asked me. Then I forgot. For like, a month. *insert big dopey "please forgive me, and scratch my ears" puppy eyes here*. I am so sorry!

clanelder said...

The dentist thing --- never again! The cry thing --- any time you need to.
Love, prayers and hugs.

Melinda said...

Hey, I found your blog when a friend of mine linked to your post about your boy making a flag.

My husband is in Afghanistan. I have so many people being nice and helping me out that I feel like I'd be letting them down if I lose it. But jeez, I can't wait until I can wean the baby and take anti-depressants, or whatever would make me feel better. Oh yeah, maybe just my husband coming home would work. We've got eight months to go.

Here's me sobbing because your tooth hurt and I miss my husband too.

Sorry. You know how it's easier to bare your soul to a complete stranger than to someone you have to see again? Yeah.