Poised above the nerve

| Life in Holland | 6 Comments

This entry may seem like it describes some recent nightmare of mine, but it has nothing to do with any dream I have had. Believe it or not, it really happened. It could only happen in Holland of all places.

For the last couple of years, I have been having an aggravating tooth-ache which has been getting progressively worse and worse. In a previous entry called Like a teacup, I describe a visit to the dentist in which he lectures me about the reason for this pain and then claims that it has been fixed. At the time, he replaced an old filling in a molar way at the back of my lower jaw, exclaimed that yes he had drilled out the minuscule crack which had been causing the pain, and in triumph said that I would no longer feel any pain. Hurray! When I told him that I was not quite so sure that that was where the pain was coming from, that while I could not pinpoint the exact source of the pain I had this feeling that the aggravation was coming from a spot closer to the front of my molars not the back, he simply shook his head and said I was wrong. Couldn't be, impossible. Why listen to an ignorant patient with a tooth-ache when during one swift drilling bout the dentist can take care of it on his own. Afterall, that's what he has been trained to do. Who cares about what the boring patients have to say anyway -- they don;t know anything about the true art of masterpiece dentistry.

Okay, so it is a couple of months later. The pain is still there, and it is still getting worse and worse. I cannot even bite any more on that side of my mouth. Build up some courage and go to that crazy dentist again. Or is it I who am getting crazy? We will have to wait and see.

Hmm, the dentist has to think about all that I have told him. You can see by the expression on his face that he does not like the idea at all that he might have made a misjudgment earlier that year. A blemish on his professionalism, oh dear. I point to the spot with the tip of my tongue and then press the area with my forefinger. That's about the area, I tell him. Think, think, but he is running late and he has to think quickly! Okay, he mumbles after making a quick and definite decision, I'm going to have to go in there right now and take care of it. Let's go.

Without telling me what he is going to do, he grabs the drill and pushes my jaw open. He is pressing down on my chest with his right elbow, so hard in fact that I cannot raise my arms to resist. Is he doing this on purpose? He starts to drill, deeper and deeper, smoke is rising from my mouth and I can smell that awful smell of burning whatever. The pain is unbelievably excruciating. I am flailing my legs, sweating profusely and my heart is racing at an ever accelerating rate ready to explode. I can feel the tip of the drill hovering ever so precariously above some nerve at the base of the evil tooth. Hurry, hurry before it is too late. I feel trapped and I am panicking beyond my wildest dreams.

Finally, there is a slight pause, and with a forceful push of my arms upwards I break the dentists hold. I scream out loud, Jesus Christ aren't you going to give me any $%@! Novocaine! I start cussing, Jeez!

[An aside: you see, in Holland it is not uncommon to undergo minor dental work without any Novocaine, including simple cavities which need to be filled. In this country there is a common hesitation when using medication unnecessarily, like penicillin, aspirins and sleeping pills. Normally however, the dentist usually gives you the choice of whether or not he should numb you. I guess my dentist was then too much in a hurry and did not feel like becoming entwined in a discussion of the merits and/or disadvantages of using and/or abusing Novocaine. Back to the story.]

Oh yeah, some Novocaine. Guess that would help. Inject three squirts, jab jab and jab, wait half a second and then continue. Can you feel anything now? Yes, I can still feel it, he does not want to wait before the numbing takes place. No you can't feel anything, he tells me loudly. Yes, I can! Wait another split second. With his thumb he massages the area impatiently and then starts drilling, deeper and deeper. The pain is getting less, finally, but it is still unnerving me (sorry about the pun). In no time he has finished, put in the filling, and it is time to go. I am pretty shaken up.

When I stand up I am poised precariously atop two trembling legs which barely hold me up. Although he has injected me with Novocaine, I can still feel the nerve throbbing. I hope that the pain will get less and disappear completely. The dentist thinks that he has gotten it for sure this time around. He assures me with the very same grimace he gave me the first time. Yeah, sure. I might feel it a very tiny bit, but it should almost be gone by now. Be patient and give it a couple days.

It has now been two days, and I can still feel it. The pain is slight, it has gotten less, but I can still feel it. No not really, I am not so sure the pain is getting any less at all. I still cannot bite on that side of my mouth, but it could be a subconscious fear that I might accidentally break off the whole tooth if I am not careful. Can you imagine? Wouldn't that be a waste of all that suffering and pain: the tooth just breaking off in the end for nothing. Ironic.


You should send this article to Dr. Baughn...He always asks me about you. What an horror story !!!
Here we would sue the dentist....

you can't take dentistry too lightly. my father-in-law went to the dentist a few years ago to have a load of teeth removed (diabetic problems). A few days later he had multiple strokes. He is not the same as he was. Turns out that the dentist was aware of an infection that he had and did not medicate him prior to the procedure. It is common (at least here) to be treated for an infection before any type of minor sugery (lots of exposed blood vessels here). Could never get a lawsuit to go through, but all of the dentists that reviewed the file confirmed that he should have been treated prior. Hope you feel better!

Wow, that's probably one of the worst experiences with dentists that I've heard about. I don't know what your situation is with insurance and available dentists, but would it be possible to switch dentists? People switch doctors especially when they feel if they're not doing a good job taking care of their patient.


PS - I am still at 100! What's up?!

My wife works for a great dentist and this sounds NOT GOOD. Got a good lawyer? :-)

Do you really want to hear a real horror story?

Well just Last year I went to my dentist to have my wisdom tooth removed. Guess what happened to me? My jaw bone got broken, by my dentist,. Problem not solved yet with my face. I'm looking for the best dental surgeon to take a look at my face.

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

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Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

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First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.

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