It Could Be Worse

Unless one has been living under a rock for the past couple of months it’s painfully obvious that we’re all living in some pretty challenging, downright frightening, times. In my neck of the woods (some twenty miles from our nation’s capital) we’ve been doing the whole stay at home thing and social distancing since March 15th. I’ve seen my sister and her family twice since then and she lives two doors down. We’re washing our hands with never before OCD fervor and, since we cannot find even one roll anywhere, we’re counting toilet paper squares (not naming names here but…someone in my house is becoming OCD about that too). We are also watching entirely too much Netflix and T.V. And, don’t get me started on the bathroom weight scale. Okay…get me started; I’ve gained five pounds and naturally, I’m not too pleased with myself. Even my Apple Watch is disappointed with me: You’re Usually Farther Along By Now….get moving…it practically shouts.

Sigh.

And, to make matters just a tad more complicated I am experiencing significant tooth pain. My issue has been brewing since last September. The periodic pain forced several visits to the dentist and one to the endodontist. Oddly, we weren’t able to definitely pin point which was the affected tooth (there were two candidates) so the last advice was to simply keep monitoring the situation and of course return when the pain started to get more frequent. Months have now gone by with nary a twinge of pain.

Until a week ago.

Yes indeed, you’d be saying. Great timing. Let’s have a dental issue return during a global pandemic…when practically everything (including my dentist’s office) is shuttered…until June!

Despite the dental office being closed I was fortunate that my dentist returned my measured (read: not frantic) call yesterday. However he confirmed he cannot practice, per CDC guidelines and our state Governor’s edict, until June. Before my head could pop off in disbelief he advised to go back to the endodontist and he would initiate the call. Thank God! Apparently endodontists are considered essential care workers. I was all set to see him in the morning.

That was on Thursday of last week.

So, I’ll admit to having a crying-in-my-soup moment. Between the throbbing tooth pain, not seeing or hearing from family, and having the routine of life upended with no clear light at the end of the tunnel I was a five-minute mess. Not only has year-to-date has been less than stellar–an understatement— but I went into the Easter holiday with a root canal.

After my five minute melt-down, and, as I nursed the throbbing pain in my mouth with tea and Advil, I happened to be reading a book review for Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage by Dan Crenshaw. He’s the Navy Seal who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan in 2012. He spent many grueling months in rehabilitation including extended periods of time harnessed face down in a hospital bed. He lost one eye, which is now covered by a black path. In 2018 Mr. Crenshaw went on to win a long-shot victory, becoming a U.S. House of Representatives congressman for Texas’s second congressional district. The book (which I am set to read) explores how he was able to be resilient in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and how prevailing cultural ills and whatnot are occurring due to a decline of resilience, also giving rise to victim-hood as a virtue. What I gather from a brief snippet of reading is that his “calm and serene” attributes, formed in part by his Navy Seal training, have served him incredibly well.

I suppose this book review caught my eye because during my five-minute meltdown it was clear I needed to put my own challenges during this time of global crises (which are more than just tooth pain) into perspective. Things could always be worse….much worseand they are and have been for many souls around the globe. I realized too that my meditation practice, though fraught with distraction during the last several weeks, has helped immeasurably. I just haven’t been giving myself enough credit (a serious character flaw). So, yes indeed: my five-minute meltdown would have easily been a far longer and dismal pity-party, say a year ago. And besides, I am human after all and even the Dalai Lama gets testy, though on rare occasions.

Unfortunately, that root canal revealed a root fracture which means the tooth needs extracting. I hear the news with a strange calmness. It is what it is. After I made the call to the oral surgeon to schedule the extraction, I try not to worry about the expense of yet another dental implant (I have had two already) particularly as we watch our retirement savings go on their roller-coaster ride or hear more incredibly bad news about the economy. Instead, I keep downing Advil and Tylenol to manage the pounding in my jaw and I remain thankful that I have a roof over my head, that most of my family and friends are safe and that my poodle-love is curled at my side, snoring away.

On This Easter Monday, I count my blessings, and there are many.

There is bliss in that.

4 thoughts on “It Could Be Worse

  1. Life in a pandemic has become so surreal. I remember I used to spin that toilet paper roll like I was some giddy contestant on Wheel of Fortune just waiting to buy a vowel? Now that I managed to finally found some, I been turning that ‘white gold’ roll more like I’m cracking a safe.

    Have experienced a similar tooth incident (and subsequent extraction) I find clove essential oil (therapeutic grade only) made a positive difference (it’s a great anti-bacterial). It took awhile for full healing but am now uber religious about flossing. I admit I wasn’t good about that before and it seems obvious now that was to my detriment. Good luck; hope relief is just around the corner. Stay well, stay strong and keep smiling. 💙

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  2. Thanks for tip! You had me laughing about the TP. I’m the obsessive one (as you perhaps have surmised) in the house….slowly….carefully selecting one square at a time…in the most reverent, almost ceremonial manner. I shall give the essential oil a whirl. I do use both string floss and a Waterpik. My problem is I’m such a bad grinder. It’s how I have broken two other teeth! I have to use a night guard when sleeping. which I loathe. My other two implants are twenty years old and going strong (knock on wood). I wish dental insurance covered implants. I makes no sense to me why they don’t even partially cover. The reason I had to go to implants is because I kept breaking the crowns; after three or four iterations of that (which is expensive enough) I gave up. Stay well 🙃

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  3. Yes indeed Miss Emily! I’ve just about had enough of this stay-at-home bit. But, with a swollen mouth post-oral surgery I suppose that is another blessing! No one can see me except hubby and The Poodle. Stay well my friend. ❤️

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