I Dream of TV

Six months ago I had a tooth abcess. For the modest fee of GBP200 (or USD290 in international money) my dentist performed a root canal to drain it, making such comments as "Wow, that is a big abcess" and "Yes that must have been really painful".

Three months ago, I started to get what felt like a return of the same pain.

Last week, on Friday 29th January, I woke up in incredible pain. I've had shingles twice in my life, and kidney stones on two occasionals, and the level was comparable. So I did what anyone else would do; I took absurdly large amounts of ibuprofen, paracetamol and codine until the pain went away.

They were actually prescribed to my mother for post-operative pain, but on principle she takes the minimum amount she can to get the pain down to managable levels while being a tiny bit paranoid about addiction. I prefer to clobber my nerves into submission.

On monday I saw a doctor...who refused to give any advice or prescribe any medication, on the grounds that he was a General Practicioner and not a dental specialist. But he did recommend I see a dentist who could refer me to a hospital who could do surgery. And not take so many pills.

So I saw a dentist, who prescribed antibiotics and refused to refer me, on the grounds that he was only providing cover for my own dentist.

So I saw another doctor...who proscribed me Tranadol. Which works in 15 minutes, slays the pain like an ancient Sumerian warrior, and turns you into a shuffling zombie. It also has absolutely no narcotic effect whatsoever, so I have no idea how people can take it recreationally.

And then I was able to see my actual dentist, fresh and revitalised back from his holiday. Through my vague haze I gleaned that he was horrified at how much paracetemol I was inflicting upon me delicate liver, and extremely unimpressed that anyone would prescribe Tramadol ("a horrible drug") for dental pain.

So he prescribed me Dihydrocodine. 100 milligrams every six hours, to be taken with food...and with Metrodidazole, a second antibiotic that attacks the kind of anarobic bacteria that swarm under teeth. Then I could come back on Friday, with inflamation hopefully sufficiently reduced that the x-rays could show clearly...just where the infection was. And thus what exactly needed treating.

Dihydrocodine takes an hour to start working, isn't as effective a painkiller as Tramadol, and makes you sleepy in the same way a tidal wave makes you moist. With the result that I started sleeping 18 hours a day, but was actually capable of thought the rest of the time. I'm typing this two hours after taking a dose.

Small detail: The pharmacist refused to give me the dihydrocodine until I went home to fetch the tramadol to exchange for it, on the grounds that I might, under the effects of the tramadol, get confused and take both drugs, which would interact, and I'd find myself unable to breathe, and suffocate to death. So, yeah.

My head now somewhat clearer, I found myself able to reason thusly:

  • Dental x-rays don't definitively show an abcess - just some small and vague dark patches that could be anything, or nothing.

  • The pain may feel centered on a row of three teeth - one of which is actually a gap from a previous extraction - but it spreads through the right side of my face.

  • Specifically, the back of my neck, the soft tissue below my jawline, my right ear, my right eye, my right temple, and the fusion line of my infant fontanelles on my shaved head.

  • That sounds like the symptoms of nuralgia, not an abcess at all.

  • According to Dr Google, it sounds like occipital nuralgia, which is treated with anti-inflamataries.

  • Anti-histamines are also anti-inflamatories.

  • So if I take some anti-histamines, it might help.

  • And wouldn't do any harm in any case.

  • So I spoke to a (different) pharmacist. Who told me that, as usual, Dr Google was slightly but crucially wrong, and anti-histamines wouldn't help. And if I did have nuralgia is would be the trigeminal type, and if I had that I'd be hospitalised and howling in agony. With sharp stabbing pain as opposed to my dull constant type. Oops.

    Well, on Friday I turned up for more x-rays and surgery. Except the x-rays were still inconclusive. And apparently while on Wednesday I'd thought I was slightly out of it, my orthodontist (lit: "Tooth Straightener") thought I'd been really out of it.

    However, we were both a little perversely pleased at being presented with a non-trivial diagnostic puzzle. Through a process of logical deducation and selective injections of novocaine, we narrowed the possibilities to two:

    (1) An abscess on the upper-right lateral incisor. Treatment: Extraction.
    (2) A broken root on the upper-right crowned canine next to it. Treatment: Extraction.

    ...and no good way to tell which it was.

    Conclusion: Another round of pills, and another week of waiting for the swelling to go down, at the end of which, another set of x-rays, and a decision. After which I go home with one tooth fewer. And some more painkillers.

    In the meantime...I have my dreams. 18 hours a day of them.

    Yesterday, in fitful bursts of sleep, I dreamed an entire Dr Who adventure from the 70s. 2016's Tom Baker Doctor took 1990's Sarah Jane Smith back in time to change the timeline of a previous adventure, with 70s Baker and Sladen, and daleks on a space station trying to blow up the earth. Back To The Future II style, with episodes 3 and 4 abrogated and set on a different path when Sarah Jane heroically tries to save earth by blowing up the dalek ship with her on it, but the Doctor freezing time at the last moment.

    Today, I got a lost Star Trek TNG story. The one where Picard loses the emotional center of his humanity after being infected with an engineered alien nano-virus. So he has to regain it by trying to define what it is to be human in philosophical converations with Lieutenant Commander Data...while a giant green humanoid stands in for him in the captain's chair, symbiotically linking with the Enterprise.

    It seems my unconscious brain is nerdier than my conscious one.