Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The toothache

Sigh...all good things must come to an end, and that includes my Vicodin scrip.  I'm hoarding the last two for nighttime purposes: the dentally well informed among you may know that, even after suffering through power-whitening, the dental patient has to use some nightguard-type impressions with some bleaching stuff smeared inside for about two weeks each evening before retiring to bed.

What you may not know is that this bleaching stuff will make your teeth ache just like the original bleaching session.  I woke up this morning with my lower jaw throbbing.  It's really too bad that the world can't just give me a pass to be wacked out on Vicodin for days on end.

On the plus side, once the Vicodin has been out of my system for about a day, I can return to alcohol.  I even bought a few bottles of white wine to experiment with*, since I should minimize tooth-staining red wine for a few days.  I'm particularly interested to try out the bottle of retsina that I found on the shelf at the store.  But even a bottle of beer would be nice; I find it rather uncivilized that I can't unwind at the end of the day with a glass of something potent.

During and after my little vanity procedure, the thought came to me that it's much easier to bear pain that you know is coming -- that is, not only knowing that it will hurt, but how it will hurt, and for how long.  This is how people survive episodes of torture without revealing sensitive information.  To little surprise, this thought is not originally my own: it comes to me from my first point of reference with recurring tooth pain as something to talk about: one of my favorite novels, Darkness at Noon.  The difference (I hope) is that Rubashov's pain has entirely different psychological implications from mine.  Allow me to excerpt a few little bits here for your reading pleasure.
Rubashov...had learned that every known physical pain was bearable; if one knew beforehand exactly what was going to happen to one, one stood it as a surgical operation -- for instance, the extraction of a tooth.  Really bad was only the unknown, which gave one no chance to foresee one's reactions and no scale to calculate one's capacity of resistance.  And the worst was the fear that one would then do or say something which could not be recalled.


The night was even worse.  Rubashov could not sleep until dawn.  Shivers ran over him at regular intervals; his tooth was throbbing.  He had the sensation that all the association centres of his brain were sore and inflamed; yet he lay under the painful compulsion to conjure up pictures and voices.


"There it is!" said the doctor.  "The root of the right eye-tooth is broken and has remained in the jaw."

Rubashov breathed deeply several times.  The pain was throbbing from his jaw to his eye and right to the back of his head.  He felt each pulsation of the blood singly, at regular intervals.  The doctor had sat down again and spread out his newspaper.  "If you like I can extract the root for you," he said and took a mouthful of bread and dripping.  "We have, of course, no anaesthetics here.  The operation takes anything from half an hour to an hour."

Rubashov heard the doctor's voice through a mist.  He leant against the wall and breathed deeply.  "Thank you," he said.  "Not now."  He thought of Hare-lip and the "steambath" and of the ridiculous gesture yesterday, when he had stubbed out the cigarette on the back of his hand.  Things will go badly, he thought.
(pp. 41, 60, 62-63)
 Not that I ever doubted this fact, but re-reading these passages certainly reiterates for me the reality that I would not cope well under torture.  Note to self: don't get arrested for political crimes.

*Cheap, of course!  I force myself to spend no more than $10 on a bottle of wine, except in very rare circumstances.  It's not like I have a salary yet or anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment