Last Thursday, I went to see the dentist to have a tooth fixed. After an examination, the dentist suggested that although he could fix it, there would be much more filling than tooth, leaving it weak and vulnerable to breaks, so he suggested having it pulled. As it was a back tooth, this did not concern me too greatly, so, I ‘gritted my teeth’, and prepared myself for the procedure.
The bleeding stopped within a few hours, and it seemed all was going according to plan. For the next two days, I was somewhat sore, but it was tolerable. However, on the third day, the pain became greater, and by the forth, I was positively in agony. I wondered why this could be, and whisked out my laptop and the old ‘Google’ page to do some research.
I discovered that there is a thing called ‘dry socket’. This is, when the blood clot that is supposed to form over the extraction point is either dissolved or dislodged, leaving the bone and the socket open to the air, which can lead to an infection. So, early on the morning of Day 5, I phoned the dentist and explained the situation. They in turn slotted me into a late afternoon appointment.
By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was still in severe pain. The dentist took a look, and then asked if I had been drinking or smoking following the extraction. When I answered in the negative, he seemed a little confused, stating that they were the two most common reasons a blood clot would come dislodged.
After examining the site, he decided that the wound was healing, although it was ‘possible’ an infection had occurred within the wound. He prescribed antibiotics, but insisted that normal Panadol would do the trick for the pain, and that I was not in need of stronger pain killers – for I should, after all, expect ‘some discomfort’ after an extraction. ‘Some Discomfort’? Of course, there should be ‘some discomfort’, I thought – but it’s not ‘some discomfort’ that keeps one awake all night, rocking back and forth in a chair, holing your face and groaning.
I headed around to the chemist, picked up the antibiotics, but also picked up the strongest pain killers they could give me without a prescription. And so my week of pain-killers began – often, I’d be sitting in the chair or on the edge of the bed, rocking back and forth in pain, or pacing the hallway, just waiting for the clock to tick over so that I could have the next dose of pain relief. I was careful to take the maximum dosage, but no more, and once again, did lots of research online to find out what the maximum safe dosages were.
During the week, I often found myself looking at the tablets and / or other painkillers, and fighting the temptation to take ‘just one more’. Usually, it took around 20-30 minutes for the pain killers to kick in, but they would then only last an hour or so, before wearing off and the excruciating pain returned. I gained such an understanding and compassion for those people who overdose on painkillers, or become addicted to them – how easy it would be. Yes, I had an infected tooth, but I knew this was a temporary thing – in a week or so, it should be mostly healed. But what of those people who live in constant pain, with little chance of making a full recovery?
After 2-3 days on the antibiotics, I finally felt the pain begin to lessen. By this time, I had been on painkillers, every 4 hours, for a week, and the nausea had begun. While the pain had started to decrease, I still was not sleeping, as now, whenever I lay down I wanted to throw up. So, instead of 2 tablets every 4 hours, I tried taking 1 tablet every 2 hours, and then slowly increased the time period, so that I was dropping back the dosage as much as I could.
Over the next few days, I began to feel much better. The pain is still there – but it is significantly reduced, and I am beginning to feel like a ‘normal’ person again. I feel like I lost a whole week – I had so much planned, being the last week of the holidays – and the week slipped past me. But, the main thing is that the socket is healing. The antibiotics have certainly helped with the infection, and I hope that in another week or so, I can be off the pain killers entirely.
The best thing about it all is that, the day before the tooth was removed, I had a lump cut and burnt off my arm. I’ve not experienced any pain at all at the site – funny about that! - it’s healed up beautifully!
Please pray today for all those who live with constant pain and those who rely on pain killers full-time. May God grant them strength, peace, and a good night’s sleep.