One of the problems with getting to the point where “middle-aged” begins to slope toward whatever micro-slice of lifespan is considered next these days is that your medical intake goes up considerably. I do not like this.
I have never liked taking pills of any kind. Oh, I’m not one of those stoics who insist on gutting out migraine headaches, infections, or other medical crises – medicine has its place and it’s perfectly fine. Desirable, even. I just don’t enjoy it and I prefer to keep it to a minimum if at all possible.
This week my jaw started reminding me that it had been a while since my last dental checkup. Jaws only have one way to do that, you know.
So I made a quick appointment and went in for my cleaning and x-rays, expecting to hear that there was some gaping hole in one of the molars somewhere toward the back and they would be breaking out the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction required to backfill it at an appointment at my earliest convenience. So I was somewhat puzzled when they reported that my recent upgrade in dental habits had actually been effective and once again I was cavity free.
“So why does it feel like there’s an entire NHL playoff game going on in my back teeth, complete with sharpened skates, rampant body checking, and at least one ten-minute misconduct penalty being awarded for most creative use of a hockey stick as a surgical implement?” I asked.
“Well,” they said, “because you have an infected wisdom tooth and that’s making your whole mouth hurt.”
Why yes, yes it is. This, on top of a cough which may or may not be a side effect of other medical treatments, had also made sleeping something of a losing cause recently.
“Not to worry,” said the dentist. “I will write you this handy prescription for an antibiotic, and if you are true and valiant and take all of the pills exactly as you should, they should work.”
“And if they don’t?”
“At that point you can choose between having the wisdom tooth removed, or having a root canal and crown.”
Ah. So many choices, so few options.
I’ve spent the last couple of days cheering on the little antibiotics. “Go! Do your stuff!” I chant in my head. I don’t say that out loud too much because a) I do not wish to be explaining this long story to large men in clean white coats carrying what appear to be oversized butterfly nets, and 2) moving my mouth too much causes pain, and pain avoidance is one of my guiding principles. “No pain, no pain,” I say. But I am loud and enthusiastic in my mind.
I am similarly circumspect in my cheering for all the ibuprofen I am consuming. It does not need cheering, though. I know that ibuprofen works. And, more importantly, I know precisely – to the minute – when it stops working and it is time for more.
Between the two medications, I suspect I am beginning to rattle when I walk.