I used to scoff at people who ran to the doctor at the first sign of a sniffle, or rushed off for X-rays every time they slid out the back steps in the rain. Suck it up, Buttercup. Don’t be a weenie. Go drink some Echinacea tea for the sniffle. As for that possible broken leg – it might be just a sprain, limp on it a while and see.
So when the dentist recently said, “That tooth will need a root canal. It is bothering you?” I said, “Nah,” totally ignoring the occasional twinges I had been getting for the last year. It was a twinge, for heaven’s sake. I wasn’t going to be a baby.
So that is how I came to spend the last week holding a microwavable warming footie to my face (not caring in the least that it had last adorned my right foot) and pushing mega doses of ibuprofen down my gullet without regard to the NSAID warnings about stomach irritation. I was going to die of the golf ball size swelling in my jaw anyway if I didn’t do something, so I couldn’t be bothered with thoughts of a little ulcer. Besides, I was already taking an acid reducing medication, so it should all balance out.
I was calling every dentist in town to see if I could get a root canal within the hour and blubbering like an infant when the closest appointment was two weeks out. I even showed up at my primary care physician’s office unannounced to show her my face and see if she could slice open the golf ball or yank out the tooth. Besides reminding me that appointments were the approved method of getting in to see a doctor, the receptionist and the nurse told me that the antibiotics I was given by my dentist were designed to get the infection under control so a root canal could be safely done. They also gazed in awe at the protuberance in my jaw, commenting, “Man, that looks painful.” This did not help.
Dejected, I went back home and stared in the mirror to see if it looked any better at all and wondered how I could sneak in to a dentist. Maybe force an extraction at gunpoint. But that was just the fever talking. I munched on a couple of Tylenol and thought, you know, I never had to wait a long time for the vet if one of the animals was sick or in pain. They are doctors, after all; maybe I’ll just swing by and . . . no, that’s crazy talk. Or, is it? I shook my head, which brought clarity — and searing pain — then slowly gathered my amoxicillin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, and warming footie and settled into the recliner with the remote and dreams of a root canal.
I know one thing. There is no glory is staying away from the doctor’s office and toughing things out. I could have saved myself a lot of agony by just admitting my tooth ached a bit (and that my leg might really be broken that night since it followed me backwards down the steps). I am reformed. If taking care of my health makes me a weenie, just call me Oscar Mayer.