Tag Archives: pain

Killing off the Undead Tooth of Terror

stooges dentist 2Yesterday I Might have taken these Guy’s Offer

The battle was brutal.  Yesterday the Undead Tooth of Terror held me in its grip more tightly than any time in the past several days.  Judy drove us home from West Virginia and last night as soon as we got back I was met by the on-call dentist and oral surgeon.  They bought me some relief for the night but I still didn’t sleep much having been tanked up on caffeine just to make it through the trip, the whole yin and yang of uppers and downers together.  This morning I got up and went in to work, my tooth and mouth in a bit of pain but not the 10.5 to 12.9 on the scale of 10 that I had yesterday.  The Undead Tooth of Terror may have been down but he was not yet out.

I met the dentist from last night as well as the Oral Surgeon who is the department head.  The people at the desk had no clue that I was coming in and were trying to figure things out by calling to the back when the dentist from last night came out, told them exactly what the plan was and had them check me in.  I was sent to wait and waiting 5 minutes a nurse came out the get me and ushered me into the oral surgery pavilion. Now you might wonder what difference there is in this and a normal dentist chair and treatment room.  So let me tell you.  I work at a large teaching hospital and this includes the Dental Department.  In fact the dentist who worked on me last night was a first year resident by you would not have known by how well he did and how considerate he was of any possible pain or discomfort that I might experience.  Anyway, back to the pavilion.  It is large with a number of oral surgery suites.  In the suite sits a dental chair. Not just any chair but one that looks like a first class airline seat and much more comfortable than a standard dental chair. The arms were a bit different as they had straps to hold down your arms as well as an IV line for the times they put someone to sleep when doing the surgery.  It looked like it could have been like a set up for prison lethal injection room.  I guess if we move to a Soylent Green end of life deal these would be in your neighborhood.  Since I had no need of lethal injection or for that matter being put to sleep for the procedure these meant nothing to me.  However when I have my implant they will do this.  The rest of the room has a good amount of equipment not seen in a normal dentist treatment room.

I got in the chair and they went through the checklist to make sure that I was me and want procedure was being done.  I was read the consent form which asked of potential complications of the surgery.  These were interesting, thankfully I did not expect complications although because the tooth was so weak there was a strong possibility that it could shatter and would have to be cut out.  Preliminaries completed I was given a topical anesthetic followed by about four or five shots into the right side of my mouth, which because of the local I did not feel.  Then they went to work.  I couldn’t see anything but could hear and feel, albeit without pain what they were doing.  Things didn’t take too long, maybe 20 minutes to remove the tooth if that.  It had come out in several pieces as they suspected, but thankfully the roots were straight and they didn’t have to do any real gymnastics to get it out.  I looked at the damned thing which was in several pieces on the small instrument table in front of me.  It was like looking at Dracula after you had staked him and before he turned to dust.  I amazement I asked if I could take it home with me and was told that I could not because it was now “hazardous waste.”  Hell I thought it was hazardous before it was waste.  I told the dentist and nurse that I was hoping to take it home so I could put it under the pillow for the tooth fairy.  The dentist said that he didn’t think that she would give very much for it but I said I thought that it was worth a try.  When all was said and done I was given an SIQ chit for two days.  SIQ means “sick in quarters” and is basically the Navy’s way of saying “Go home dummy.  Follow the doctor’s directions and take care of yourself.” I really only expected one day, but as I started hurting again some tonight I realized that I could not do my 24 hour on call shift tomorrow without making things much worse for me.   Following the surgery the site of the now really dead Undead Tooth of Terror was packed with gauze to soak up the blood.  I ended up changing the gauze three times before the site stopped bleeding.

When I got home I realized that I had forgotten to drop off a prescription for more Vicodin so I had to drive back and drop it off at our pharmacy. Thankfully traffic was light and I got there and back pretty quick and will get the prescription tomorrow as the line was huge and I was in no condition to wait an hour to get it as I had a couple left.  Once I was home I fell asleep for about 3 hours. I got up, had a light dinner and took it easy.  The pain started back up about 9 PM and so I took my meds and am getting ready to go to bed.  I expect that I should sleep well for the first time tonight.  The Undead Tooth of Terror is no more but I still bear the scars of my encounter with the beast from the pit of hell.  Patently the Deity Herself was with me through this and will take care of me tonight even if I don’t get a visit from the tooth fairy.

Thank you for your prayers encouragement and support.  Thanks especially to Judy who threw herself on the proverbial grenade yesterday to drive me home even though she was extremely tired and not feeling that well herself. I have a follow up next week for this procedure and my initial visit for the implant in six weeks.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under healthcare, Loose thoughts and musings, Military

My Home World Visit: Some things Change and some don’t….and the Terror of the Undead Tooth

The last time that I visited the Home World, aka West Virginia was before I left for Iraq.  While this is my family’s Home World it is only mine by default having worked there briefly after my residency.   Now because I was a West Virginia resident when I entered active duty in 1999 it is our home of record for all of my military administrative and pay purposes.  This means that we maintain our West Virginia driver’s licenses, vote in West Virginia elections and since we are out of state have no state income tax liability.

West Virginia, in the heart of Appalachia is an interesting place.  It was became a state in 1863 when the western counties of Virginia, which had seceded from the Union, seceded from Virginia and were recognized by the Federal Government.  My family goes back on both sides to the late 1700s in the state where they were early pioneers having moved west from Pennsylvania.  The Dundas side of the family had emigrated from Scotland in the late 1740s settling initially in Philadelphia where the early settlers served as suppliers of the Continental Congress and Army in the War for Independence and are buried in Christ Church cemetery near Independence Hall, the same cemetery where Benjamin Franklin and other notables from the early history of the United States are buried.  The family which settled in Cabell County owned a great deal of property along the Mud River and the James River Turnpike where they prospered by not necessarily being nice.   They built a plantation and owned slaves, the exact number I do not know.  They also sort of acted as highwaymen charging travelers along the turnpike to go through their land, in a sense they were the progenitors of the toll booths on the West Virginia Turnpike.  Their prosperity last through the Civil War in which they sided with the Virginians who seceded from the Union and not those that seceded from Virginia.  When the war ended the family patriarch decided that he didn’t like the results and as a Lieutenant in the 8th Virginia Cavalry Regiment refused to sign the loyalty oath when the Confederacy surrendered.  Of course Officers like Robert E. Lee did so, so the refusal was kind of stupid.  As a result the Federal Government seized almost all of the family land save for the homestead and a parcel donated to Mud River Baptist Church and the Blue Sulfur cemetery where as my cousin by marriage Betty says “all the good Dundas’s are buried.”  Thus my family became just another working family.  My parents were born in Huntington in the 1930s.  At that time Huntington was a booming city.  It was a rail hub as well as the site of many heavy industries including the manufacture of railroad cars, steel, nickel, glassware, chemicals and automotive parts.  It was also the home of Marshall University.   This boom lasted until the 1960s and early 1970s as industries moved out or shut down, the population which once numbered about 100,000 dwindled to barely 50,000 in 2008.  The city did nothing to help itself when it refused to let the Interstate Highway go down through the waterfront. The diversion of I-64 helped destroy the downtown and contributed to the move of many people to the outlying areas of the county.  As a result the areas along the Mud River gained both business and population leaving the city with fewer business, people and tax revenue.  Of course had my ancestor decided to sign the loyalty oath all of this would have been on our family land and the family would be wealthy.  The sins and stupidity of the previous generations do truly affect their descendants.  What a Dumb-Ass.

So my dad joined the Navy and I was the first one of my family born out of West Virginia.  Now we would go back often to visit my grandparents as well as other relatives and I have some fond memories of visits to Huntington in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Back then Huntington was still fairly affluent by West Virginia standards.  When I moved back after my residency in late December 1994 Huntington was a different town.  The city was smaller and areas that had once been nice were run down.  Gangs and drug lords from Detroit and Columbus made Huntington, which once had a very low crime rate a pretty sporty place.  Instead of industry service industries like telemarketing became major employers joining Marshall University, Cabell-Huntington Hospital and Saint Mary’s hospitals as the economic base of the city. The few remaining heavy industries were much smaller than they had been even a decade before.  Since I left to join the Navy in 1999 the city has continued its decline.  In spite of major expansions of the University, both Hospitals the opening of a new campus and University medical center a revitalized downtown much of the city is in disrepair and once nice neighborhoods are blighted.  There are signs of hope as the city and state are making concerted efforts to fight the drugs and gangs, while corrupt officials who allowed the infrastructure to collapse leaving the city in violation of EPA and other federal agency regulations.

The decline has affected everything, even churches.  The church that I was baptized at as a infant, Southside Methodist is shut down, the congregation merged with several others at another location.  Other formerly influential congregations of various denominations have shut down and in some cases the buildings demolished.   The city lost its Minor League baseball franchise in 1994 and it has not been replaced.  The population is now significantly older and poorer.  One only has to visit stores like Wal-Mart and see how poor people look and how bad their state of health is to understand how the city has fallen.

One thing that surprised me was walking down 3rd Avenue after departing the Marshall Hall of Fame Café and seeing two young let’s say late teens, early twenties girls wrapped around each other at a bus stop French kissing and pawing all over each other.   For a second I thought someone had turned on Cinemax, this was definitely not the West Virginia that I remembered growing up.  Now I know that Huntington is a college town but I still was not expecting this.  Had my paternal grandmother, God rest her soul been there she would have probably taken her cane and forcibly separated them while giving them a piece of her mind.  Granny was not to be messed with and even long haired men drew her wrath as what she would have termed improperly clad women who showed more skin than she thought was proper.   I’m sure the display of the two young women would have sent her into orbit. Of course I make no judgment on the young women, save perhaps their choice of venue to express their affection for one another.  Heck if they had been a hetro-sxcual couple I would have had a similar reaction and Granny would have at least accosted the young man had it been that situation.

Huntington has changed in a lot of ways, but some things remain constant.  For me these have been the parks, such as Ritter Park as well as eateries such as Stewarts Hot Dogs and the Frost Top Root Beer stand both of which take one back in time to when things were better.  I still like to go back; the pace of life is relaxing if you aren’t in pain.  Our trip this time was marked by a nice visit with our friend Patty a couple of visits to Stewarts and a visit to the Marshall Hall of Fame Café.  At least the beer at least gave me a bit of relief from the constant pain in my mouth.

As far as the matter of the “undead” tooth goes beginning Sunday night the pain was unmanageable.   I could not sleep and no matter how many 800 mg Motrin and Ultram that I took I was still in pain. I might have gotten two hours of bad sleep Sunday night.  Monday morning I got up, ate breakfast, took more medicine and went to back to bed.  After I got up at noon I went to the Hall of Fame Café for a salad, chili and beer, after which I saw the aforementioned Cinemax girls.  Monday night was more of the same and I was wishing for my regular boring insomnia.  Tuesday morning I woke up gave up and called our hospital dental clinic.  They referred me to the office that approves visits to non-military providers.  It took me a while to reach them but when I did they gave me permission and I went to the dentist who took over the practice of our old and recently retired dentist in Huntington.  I was x-rayed and the dentist said that the tooth was infected.  He wrote a couple of prescriptions, one for amoxicillin and the other for Darvecet a pain reliever.  Unfortunately they had no effect on Tuesday night and by the time that we left today I was in worse pain than any time previously.  The tooth was making groaning and popping noises throbbing and shooting out sharp pain.  By the time we got to the western section of Virginia I knew I had to get some help so I called our dental department.  The person at the desk told me to report to sick call in the morning.  About an hour later the pain was even worse so I called again about 40 minutes before the clinic closed.  I got the automated answering system that told me “thank you for your patience, we value you and you are number one in the queue.” I waited in the “queue” or 40 minutes, my call dropping twice due to bad cell coverage but each time I was still “the first in the queue.” Finally, after the clinic was officially closed I called m ICU and Stacie one of our Critical Care RN’s paged the on-cal dentist.  He called me back and told me to come in as soon as I got back in town.  When we finally got home we went directly to the hospital where the young dentist waited.  He consulted the on-call Oral Surgeon and the two decided to open the tooth back up and grind it down as well as give me a long lasting anesthetic that will take me through the night as well as some good drugs, Vicodin to keep the pain down not the Darvocet which was crap and didn’t touch the pain.  So tomorrow I go in early and the dentists will fit me in and excavate the remains of the tooth from my mouth and do some site preservation so I can get the implant later.  Thus, my saga completed I will try to get some sleep, unfortunately I am so wired from all the caffeine I took on board today that sleep, even if I am not in pain will be problematic.  Thankfully I have been assured that they will send me home when this is done.

Pray for me a sinner,

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, travel, west virginia