Pain

I haven’t blogged for some time now and my apologies to those who have checked in and not seen anything new. I’ve been working on a couple of projects which have required my time and attention, and I’ve also been dealing with some major league dental problems. So I thought I’d get back in the groove a little bit by telling you about my experiences with the dentist.

Let me start by saying that I like my dentist a great deal. He’s experiences, competent, confident and serious. He’s also a heck of a nice guy. I put my total trust in him every time I sit down in that dentist chair, which happens to be where I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately.

Just over one week ago I had an appointment to have a couple of broken back teeth extracted. I was most certainly not looking forward to it, and put it off as long as I could. But eventually there comes a time when one must tend to one’s health, and that time had come. So I went in, and my dentist pulled out what needed to be pulled out. I should mention now that I have been both blessed and cursed genetically. And one of those curses is that I have extremely long and curvy roots on my teeth – especially my molars. So the few other times I’ve had extractions, they’ve been very painful. This experience wasn’t any different.

And this time, like the other times I’ve had extractions, I ended up with not one, but two “dry sockets.” I don’t know if you’ve ever had a dry socket from a dental procedure, or have even heard of them, but they are what my Dad used to call “a bugger.” I won’t go into detail (google “dry sockets” if you really care), but basically it means that you experience about five times to usual pain. And once you get one (or in my case two), you have to visit the dentist every couple of days so that he can treat the hole in your mouth with medicated gauze, which ostensibly is supposed to take away the pain.

So my fiancee and I (thank you baby, for your tender loving care) have been shuttling back and forth to the dentist for a week now to try to get these holes in my mouth to heal. It’s been an extremely long and very painful experience. You know, the kind you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Luckily, my dentist has been very compassionate and has written a number of prescriptions for pain killers, antibiotics and now, steroids to get this damn situation under control.

So I’ve had a lot of time spent on my back, trying to take it easy, watching old episodes of the “Sopranos,” reading and thinking about pain. And I’ve come to a couple of conclusions about pain that I thought I would share with you. Maybe they’ll come in handy some day.

First of all, I’ve come to understand that there is really no way for another person to gauge your pain. The problem is that everyone has different “pain thresholds” or amounts of pain they are able to tolerate. One person’s tolerable throbbing ache is another person’s unbearable sensation. I know there have been a lot of studies on pain. Some claim that woman can tolerate a great deal more than men and, well, as everybody likes to say, “That’s why women have the babies.” Could be true.

But I believe there is still so much that we don’t understand about pain. When you go to the hospital after you sliced your finger or suffered some other injury they often ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever had. But is it really possible to do that? What do those ratings mean? And how is it possible to be rational about rating pain when there’s blood all over the place.

I think the one thing that I’ve learned in this latest experience with Pain (capitol P intended) is that it is important to try and focus on other things, if possible. But the person experiencing pain should and must always be treated with great empathy and care and above all must be taken seriously. Only you know exactly how you feel. Nobody else can come close to experiencing it including the doctors. There seems to be a trend in America lately to err on the side of caution when it comes to giving out pain medication. I say to doctors: Stop that. We all know the risks of becoming dependent.

When people are dying, doctors don’t worry too much about the risks of their patients becoming dependent on drugs. They say, “We feel its important to keep the patient comfortable.” And usually a dying man or woman is in a boatload of pain. But so are so many others.

We claim to be an evolved bunch of chimps walking around. We just entered a new and interesting Millennium. People should not have to suffer from pain. Ever. Let’s try to be a little more empathetic and a little less concerned about the Federal Drug Authority monitoring records.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe it is time for more pain medication. May you never suffer a dry socket.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Pain

  1. Christina

    Ooof. Hope you feel better John. I had four wisdom teeth pulled at the same time this summer; let’s just say it wasn’t the best of days for me. Luckily, Hyde Park came out the next day, and I had just seen it in the theaters with my Dad, so that definitley helped.

  2. Tonya

    It was good to talk to you last night, John. I am glad to know that you are feeling better. Dental pain is unbelievable.

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