Saturday, August 27, 2022

The tooth abscess

Back on April 20, I developed a terrible toothache that came to be associated with a swollen lower-right jaw. Over the next five days I consumed more Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen pills than likely I had over several decades. On April 25, my dentist (whom I had not seen since December 2019 because of the pandemic) had a look.


He prescribed a seven-day regimen of Amoxicillin. Within 24 hours the situation improved. He also recommended that I see an endodontist, which I did on May 10. The endodontist gave me three options: do nothing, have a certain dead tooth pulled, or let him do a root canal that involved (at least, pending complications) two three-hour sessions. I don't know that I can last one three-hour session. The last time I had a root canal the doctor left me alone for ten or so minutes and I chose that time to have a panic attack! Unfortunately, that set in motion similar feelings of anxiety, subsequently, every time that I have had my mouth worked on in a dentist's chair.

Mulling over my options, I did nothing over the course of the summer. On July 7, I managed to complicate things by breaking off part of a tooth in the upper-left part of my mouth. As annoying as this was, I did not see my dentist about it. Around August 20, I noted that the area around my dead tooth was getting reinfected. Salt-water rinses were not helping. Fortunately, this time the formation of the abscess was not accompanied by pain and, by August 22, I felt that my own body was dealing with it and that, perhaps, the worst was over. Nevertheless, I was fearful that my immune system was not capable of conquering the bacterial pathogen and I thought it prudent to see if I could acquire an antibiotic.

Constrained somewhat by my unwillingness to travel any distance, I thought that making an appointment with my family doctor right here in Weston was an option. He could write me a prescription and I could get it filled nearby. But my call to his office on August 23 did not go as planned. The receptionist, upon discovering that my last appointment had been way back in November 2012 (I was as surprised as she was: Had it really been that long?) felt that she needed to ask the doctor if he wanted to engage with me. The next day she left a message with their (apparently new) policy: My family doctor was not taking back patients he hasn't seen in over five years due to being overburdened with Covid. Wow, I managed to not only lose my family doctor, but I'm also responsible for my wife losing her family doctor (same doctor, it has probably been five years since she has seen him)!

On August 25, I decided to give my dentist a call. My wife had suggested that they might be able to have a repeat of my April 25 prescription filled at a local dispensary and I should ask about that. They were busy and I had to leave a message. I gave my name and mentioned my previous appointment with the dentist on April 25 and asked about the possibility of filling a repeat of the prescription that I got then, but locally. I forgot to leave my phone number. There was no reply, so the next morning, Friday, I phoned again. The assistant/receptionist who answered tied my request to the previous day's call by noting that her inability to parse my full name had her calling back someone else for the reply. I provided the local Shoppers Drug Mart address and phone number. She said that she still had contact the dentist about all this but if she didn't get back to me that day, she would get back to me on Monday.

I spent the rest of Friday making my potato/carrot/spinach soup complemented with some lentils, roast-beef gravy, and leftover frozen bits from a long-ago spiral ham. I had several bowlfuls and tried to get some late-afternoon shut-eye. When I came to later that evening, I was feeling much better! The swelling in my gums had receded a little and I had the sense that my immune system was going to be able to handle this after all. Perhaps it was some remnant antibiotic in the ham!

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