28 July 2010

At Last! The Shocking Conclusion of the Epic Pus Volcano Chronicles!

It's true. My dentist finally sealed off my root canal this afternoon.

Of course, it couldn't just be a simple post and crown, could it? No. Of course not. Of course, his mainframe had to have died last week, so he's got this loaner unit that mills crowns (yeah, he's all high-tech like that) only apparently? This loaner unit? Is on quaaludes or something.

Because it froze while preparing the image. Twice. Yay.

Ok, I realise this makes mostly no sense unless you've seen one of these in action. It's sort of like auto-CAD for teeth (now there's something you don't hear every day). It takes a before picture, and then after your tooth is ground down and the post is in, it takes an after picture, and then you go in and sort of auto-CAD the patient's tooth until it looks exactly right, and then you hit "ok" and it mills a brandy-new shiny porcelain crown.

Except it didn't.


My half-hour appointment? Was three hours. Fortunately I had lots of Dante's Divine Comedy to keep me occupied, but boy was the dentist pissed. And by 2:15, my ass was sound asleep in the chair.

But seriously. Did he really think that anything about this whole procedure was going to happen easily, as planned? Really-really?

Yeah, me either.

Anyway, IT'S OVER. Except when I go back for one more post-op visit to the surgeon at the end of next month. Done done done no more pus volcanoes hooray.

(In other news, apparently my brain has gone on strike because I cannot make myself grade the eight papers I have to turn back tomorrow morning. Cannot. Make. Myself. They've been staring at me all day. And I can't pick up the pen.)

14 July 2010

Grand Finale!, Wherein FireCat Finally Conquers the Pus Volcano!

Coming soon to an oral cavity near you.

Interlude, Wherein FireCat Solves a Ghastly Household Mystery (2 days ago)

Meanwhile, I have solved a ghastly mystery in my house. I had been noticing sporadically since the first of the month (the change date in these parts) that on occasion my toothbrush felt kind of damp in the mornings. I attributed it to its placement in the cup near other people's toothbrushes that had been recently used, the fact that it's been so damn humid, evaporation, etc.

This morning it was sopping wet, and I went stomping downstairs with my toothbrush in my fist: Did someone use this toothbrush this morning?

Turns out that my dad thinks the purple toothbrush is his. And has been using it twice a day lo these past two weeks.

(and the reason I didn't immediately switch toothbrushes and start using the blue one is because hello--it's huge. How could he think that that toothbrush could fit in anyone else's mouth around here???)

Thank God I'll be having oral surgery this afternoon and will not be allowed to brush my teeth for at least 24 hours, which will give me enough time for (a) the evil to wear off, and (b) someone else to go buy a new shiny toothbrush for me. And his name is John.

Just sayin.

Toothgate Continues (14 days ago)

I've been off antibiotics since Thursday night. I have an appointment tomorrow to actually finally finish this root canal.
And my face is swelling up again, with associated tooth pain.


Someone you know will be having oral surgery very, very soon.

The thing that annoys me greatly right now is that I start teaching summer classes today. Which means that either (a) I will be teaching the day after having oral surgery, or (b) I will have to either cancel or find a fill-in for my class. And that is deeply frustrating (especially since--hello, this has been going on since Memorial Day.)

I just can't imagine that aspect of it being fun. I'm more or less ok with the idea of the surgery. It won't be the worst thing that's happened to me.

Plus, we still have lime popsicles in the freezer.

Here is a portrait of me, opening wide:

Spongeworthy (22 days ago)

So. You know that sponge? Sponge to fill the hole in my tooth and allow the abscess to continue to drain, while I'm still too infected for a temporary filling?

I ate it.

Seriously. I looked in my mouth this afternoon whilst flossing, and.....it's gone. And I didn't notice it any time I spat into the sink in the past 24 hours. Which means there's only one place it could have gone.

I don't know why the idea of eating a teeny, orange little pus-filled piece of dental sponge is more disgusting to me than.....well, no, wait. I think I do know why.

Ew ew ew ew. Fortunately, I'm going in tomorrow for an update. And my face is still partly swollen, thankyouverymuch.

Thanks, though, for allowing me to tell funny stories about this. Otherwise, it'd be LAME AND HORRIBLE. Now it's just funny. And lame. And mostly funny.

No, well, mostly lame, but at least very funny.

FireCat vs. the Pus Volcano (25 days ago)

Oh my god, the saga continues! Isn't this awesome? You get serial installments of the pus volcano story! (mmm, cereal....)

Anyway. I went to the dentist today, for what was supposed to be the end of my root canal. I told him that I'd taken Flagyl for five days and couldn't stand it anymore, that I stopped yesterday morning and could almost eat again, and to please take a look at that one small, hard bump at the root of the tooth he was working on.

He poked it.

I leapt out of the chair.

He poked it again.

I considered the mechanics involved in garrotting him with his tie (which was a lovely blue silk abstract, btw).

He poked it again.

Dude. Mark. CUT THAT OUT.

He decided at that point that there was no way he could lance it from the gumline at the moment, give him a minute while he put on his jacket so as not to get the pus volcano all over his lovely tie.


Yes, more draining, more pus and infection, more orangeness, more stank and gack and ewwwww and omg why are there chunks in my mouth?

All activity halts while the tech fills me up a cup of mouthwash so fast I thought she'd get whiplash and I rinse the chunky bits out of my mouth and say things that would make my mother blush and my father proud (and curious).

He then proceeds to start massaging my gum, which in addition to producing more....stuff....makes me realise the specifics of what he's actually doing in there. Fortunately I have a very well-trained gag reflex (and let's not even go there).

Short version: MOAR ANTIBIOTICS, hopefully a kind that will keep me from puking. Seriously, I haven't been on penicillin since I was like, twelve.

I remain, however, a little bit alarmed that the first side effect listed is "black hairy tongue."

Really, could they get any more foul??

Cris suggested I might need a face-ectomy. Now there's an idea.

I am now off to google "black hairy tongue" so I know what to be on the lookout for. Somehow, I'm picturing something akin to my fat, one-eyed cat asleep on my bed. It's probably not that cute, is it.

(update: Nope. It is not.)

Although, I don't know. The idea of my tongue having its own moustache is kind of intriguing, on second thought.

What in Plaid Rabbit Hell? Again? (30 days ago)

I woke up this morning at 5 AM with a painfully familiar feeling in my lower right jaw......

.....that's right, kids, my face is swelling up again and my dentist is in Vermont! (he either has way too much free time on his hands or his junior-in-high-school daughter is looking at UVM)

He called in a prescription for another antibiotic. I can't take e-mycin because it makes my head spin round and I puke yellow bile with red-and-white spots. (which might have been the pill, actually.) So instead he put me on flagyl.

What the hell, dude? Flagyl is like, antibiotics on steroids. They give you flagyl when you have giardia. They give you flagyl when you have flesh-eating bacteria that is trying to take your face off.

Oh, wait.

So, yeah. And I'm leaving the pharmacy counter when I get this gem of advice: "NO ALCOHOL. Seriously. None. You'll puke. A lot. I've done it. It's awful. So don't drink."

Whaaaaaat? A weekend in June when the limes are ripe and my parents aren't around? And I can't drink???

Nope. Apparently not even the communion wine (the pharmacy tech happens to go to my parents' church, so she actually was very thoughtful to bring that up. Not that I go all that often, but it wouldn't even have occurred to me.)

Um.......seriously. What......theeee......hell? Apparently my pain tolerance is too high, because there's no way this should have gotten where it did before it started to hurt. In the meantime, here's hoping they don't have to drain the abscess again, since apparently, you know, there still is one, and everything. In the meantime, I'll just be sitting here, impersonating my very tubby-faced cat Daphne:

( )

The good news? There's less pain the more it swells. Wait. Is that really good news? Anyway, I'm down to two Advil before bedtime and two when I wake up in the morning. Much better than four Advil every four hours.

The bad news? Have I mentioned the part about no wine?

Wowie (38 days ago)

First of all, before you ask if I feel better, no--I feel numb. And for the next twelve hours I'll likely feel worse. But after that, I'll feel better.

Second, wowie! I've never managed to make my dentist go "eeeeew!" before. Apparently there's a first time for everything. Remember that pus that Cris sure was there, even though there was no visible infection on the x-ray? Yeah. He drilled, and created a little ol' tooth geyser. Yellow, green, orange--we're talking a veritable rainbow of infectious matter squirting out of what had once been the nerve of my tooth.


Now, mind you, I did not get to see any of this, because (a) I am not flexible enough to see into my own mouth, and (b) I make a habit of keeping my eyes firmly squinched shut whilst at the dentist, but let me tell you, I smelled it.

Oh. My. God. The stench? Of an infected root, coming into contact with air for the first time? Dude. I've smelled dead bodies that were less offensive than this. And I'm not even kidding. At one point he had to take the stuff out of my mouth so I could gag unencumbered.

So--yeah. The short version is, I in fact had a raging infection in my jaw, which unlike the BP oil disaster has now successfully been siphoned off and capped....at least temporarily, since, of course, we have to make sure the infection's all gone. But My. Goodness. Of all the offensive things! Phew!

He also said that for such a petite lady, I had the longest damn teeth he'd ever seen. So....wait a minute, dude, did you just call me long in the tooth? Hmmmm.

Drill Baby Drill (40 days ago)

My face has not fallen off. I am still on drugs (as you can probably tell). There is apparently not a single dentist in the tri-state area who has office hours on Friday. My dentist is opening his office at 8 tomorrow morning--which reminds me, I forgot to ask who's bringing the coffee--to rectify the situation.

Yeah, my face is still swollen, and I'm having fun scaring the cats. The ice pack is delightful, the percocet is even better, and apparently being slightly delirious doesn't affect research on A Midsummer Night's Dream at all, because the play itself is so trippy.

That's the scoop from here.

The really good news about temporary disfigurement is that, really, I haven't had to go out in public. I mean, I've had to go to Shakespeare class three times, but....I mean, it's grad school. They've all seen me in worse shape than this.

We Are No Longer Amused (42 days ago)

Well, the painkillers are mostly working (though, as many of you know, they have amusing unintended side effects and I apparently am much more fun when improperly medicated).

Apparently the antibiotics are not. I woke up at ten minutes to six this morning, not because there was a furry one-eyed monster tap-dancing on my head and meowing that it was breakfast time, but because I tried to roll over onto the right side of my face.....and it wasn't where I'd left it.

I have swollen up like a balloon. Or, more precisely, half a balloon.

Excuse me? I'm taking 1500 mg of amoxicillin a day, and 800 mg of ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory, you may recall) every four hours, and instead of better, this thing is getting worse?

Yeah, I don't think so.

However, it was in fact ten of six, so I went downstairs, did a little proactive cat-feeding, grabbed an ice pack, stuck it on my face, took four more Advil, and went back to bed for a few hours.

And woke up at 9:00 still looking and feeling like a chipmunk. Awesome. My dentist is out of town today, and the on-call guy doesn't open until 10:30. Which is good, because now I have time to shower and have my morning mug of tea so I can be human when I call him and say "OH MY GOD THERE'S AN ALIEN GROWING OUT OF MY MANDIBLE."

The good news is, it doesn't really hurt. Apparently in the course of the swelling, it must be pressing on some nerves, because instead? It's sort of...tingling. Awesome.

Yeah. So totally not the look and feel I was going for today.

So, my friend Cris (a former dental tech) was right. There undoubtedly is an abscess going on there that we just couldn't see on film. Because, really, what are the chances of an actual tooth-eating alien?

Ohmygod, I Can't Feel My Face (43 days ago)

Mind you, it's not that my face has gone numb, but get this--I'm not in mind-bending discomfort! Woooooo!

Yeah, the percocet is working waaaay better than the vicodin did. And, the antibiotics. Which, by the way, are going to kill every microorganism within a ten foot radius of my face, so you might want to keep your pet amoeba away from me for the next while.
And yes, I will be ODing on yoghurt as well, since we're in the habit of oversharing.

Oh god, I cannot tell you how happy I am that this stuff works. I'd been taking Advil all day, because my first summer session started tonight, so I couldn't take the painkiller until now. Yeah, three hours of un-air-conditioned Shakespeare on percocet? There's a fun time, no?


Yayayayayayay, I only feel moderate stupidity in the area of that tooth! Not exactly pain, more like....concentrated stupidity. And, really, I'm ok with the idea of a root canal. At this point, it will be a relief. I know people say they hurt, but seriously? Compared to last night? It'll be like a bowl of ice cream. With sprinkles, and chocolate sauce.

The Saga Begins (45 days ago)

Y'all, I have a toothache the size of Chicago. Long about Friday morning five o'clock, I realised this. My dentist, of course, does not have office hours on Fridays, so I made a mental note to call first thing Tuesday morning (since, of course, nobody works Memorial Day if they can help it). In the meantime, I dosed myself with Advil.

Well, here it is Monday night, and I can't freaking stand it. Two Advil and two Tylenol every four hours (as prescribed by said dentist for a previous weekend pain while he was away for the weekend.....did I mention I live in a really small town and actually have my dentist's cell phone number? Also, my dad is his deacon. Anyway.) has stopped being even remotely effective, as of sometime last night. Even gin and tonics weren't quite as soothing as they usually are.

But today? Oh. My. God. Before supper I was sitting on the front porch, among the begonias and hanging plants, with A Midsummer Night's Dream critical contexts (summer school's idea of fun) and a glass of white wine....crying because it hurt so bad. My dad noticed during supper and bequeathed me a bottle of leftover painkillers. Yes, I am admitting to prescription fraud in public. I'm taking my daddy's hydrocodone and I don't care who knows it.

But seriously? I took one at 7:30, right during my salad. At ten, I took another one, because it was having no effect.

I have now had 1000 mg of Vicodin (which isn't even old, it's from Christmas) and it hasn't even made a dent in the pain. I should be comatose. What the hell, yo?

13 July 2010

A Post about a Series of Posts

Since Memorial Day, I've been undergoing one of the weirdest dental experiences ever--or at least, in my limited experience. I've been updating some message board friends about the Pus Volcano Chronicles, as they've come to be rather graphically known in those parts, and apparently the story is equal parts horrifying and amusing.

Well, the Pus Volcano Chronicles came to a head yesterday afternoon (um, ew) in the form of oral surgery. So today, here I sit, with plenty of free time, a box of lime popsicles, and almost as many ice packs surrounding my jaw. It might be the painkillers, but I've decided to migrate the Pus Volcano Chronicles to this blog. Stay tuned.

05 July 2010

Land of the Free, Home of the Whatever. No, Really.

On our little plot of land, there are three or four houses surrounded by a lot of trees, a couple of cornfields, and...well, some donkeys. The neighbours on one side are Italian-American. We're Irish-American. Neighbours on the other side are Mexican immigrants. The kids are all citizens, born here in the last seven years or so. Their parents are working on it, in the slow and paper-filled process of the INS. Maybe someday. A little up the road is a family of big, honkin' Greeks. About fifteen of them. Actually, they're pretty much the whole rest of the town I live in.

Fourth of July weekend here means one thing that you can get nowhere else in the world: the town's "Big Fat Greek Festival" on one side, with souvlaki and balalaika music in one ear, and Tejano and salsa music in the other ear as Tómas keeps trying to teach me the words to his favourite Los Tigres del Norte song and laughing like a lunatic when I mess it up, while mucking out stalls and waiting for it to be dark enough to light sparklers for his sons and nieces. They used to have a barbecue on Cinco de Mayo, but lately they've stopped doing that unless it falls on a weekend. These days they celebrate the Fourth with us, because "my kids are American, just like you. And me? Me maybe someday too."