So I'd felt this awful fatigue for a couple weeks. Fatigue that stopped me from concentrating on anything personally difficult for long, from staying up late on some evenings (I totally crashed into sleep earliest at 9 pm no matter what I was doing at the time), from so many normal things that it was annoying and also becoming worrisome. I was thinking I may be pregnant, so I went to see a nurse to have a blood test.
Then, on Wednesday before I got the blood test results, the pain started. Suddenly my left ear, left eye, everything on the left side of my head was hurting and sensitive to touch. The nurse called me back later, no pregnancy was detected, so my fatigue wasn't that.
I'll skip a couple days in the story because it was just sitting at home in pain, taking painkillers like candy, making phonecalls to get myself to some doctor who could help, and being in more and more pain. I wrote a little thread on the forum about how painkillers weren't doing their job stopping everything on the left side of my head from hurting, and I was wishing I could pray it away like the gullible girl I used to be. I tried to tame the pain with methods of self-hypnosis and little brain tricks that were discussed in the thread (which actually gave short reliefs, which were welcome all the same).
Friday at noon, after two very badly slept nights - yes, just two,I know I'm lucky because some people suffer for much longer, but you know how quickly sleeplessness messes you up - I was sitting at a dentist's office, ready for a check-up despite my phobia of dentists.
I'm not kidding when I say phobia. Some tears came already when he as much as put that little mirror thing into my mouth and looked around. X-rays were taken. I was shaking. A good thing that didn't ruin the pictures.
Turns out I had a rotting tooth root, and there was so much rot, it was bothering my nervus trigeminus, a big and important facial nerve. I wasn't actually surprised. I'd known I had a bad tooth. Due to my dentist phobia I didn't go to have it removed when most of it broke into pieces due to pressure form the Wisdom tooth behind it growing. (Yeah, that wasn't much fun either.)
The good news was that the teeth around it were in great condition, surprisingly so. Anyway, it was made clear that this was life-threatening if the bacteria started spreading into my blood, and he asked me if he could remove the tooth and the rot right there and then. He wasn't allowed to use laughing gas or anything but he promised to do lots and lots of numbing, though he warned me that this kind of teeth didn't numb properly. I'd heard of people dying very quickly when tooth rot bacteria went into their hearts, so I only took a few minutes to say the words "Okay, I've come this far, let's go through with it".
Warning: If you're as terrified of dentists as I am, you may not want to read the next part of this. In that case, scroll down to where I have the next separator like the one below.
It was supposed to be a quick routine procedure and the tooth was supposed to come out very easily, but it wound up anything but. So many times I heard the dentist say "Ok, I'l try THIS now" and it'd fail. More numbing, but I still felt a lot of discomfort. More procedures. Breaking the tooth further into pieces, trying to pull the pieces out. Doing it again. More failed tries. Cutting me open further, like a surgery I had the misfortune to be aware of. I won't lie, it was the second worst thing I've ever been through, and that was only second worst because I knew the guy was doing his best to help me and it would end at some point.
I put my imagination into work, really work, to keep me from focusing on what was going on, because I knew obsessing over a thing I'm already afraid of could drive me into a panic attack. So with self-hypnosis I went. The dentist's chair turned into a large soft snail that was holding me, the snail invited me into his shell, I looked around all the beautiful whorls, went to the smallest whorl, it protected me from pain, protected me from pain, protected me...oh the tooth is still not out DAMNIT!! I walked the whorls again, admired the snail's beautiful round eggs that were developing, exited the shell through the snail's breathing hole, and the snail took me into an underground snail world with lots of snails that all came to hug me and shout "WE ALL LOVE YOU SO MUCH" into my ears. The snails all loved me and told me that the pain would be gone forever, really forever, if I just could do this a little longer, just a little longer, just a little longer, the snails loved me so much, their slimy gentle embrace all around me....
My mental image literally shattered into small squares in my mind's eye when the dentist finally got the tooth out, after trying to do it for a half an hour or something. I'd felt discomfort, but at that point it became horribly clear why he'd warned me it wouldn't numb properly. It was like something was on fire in my mouth. I yelped out at my full voice from the pain and was crying uncontrollably. He had to do a few more little things to make sure everything went right. I was twitching in the chair, shouting, crying from the pain, but everything had gone perfectly in the end despite all the trouble in the beginning. The tooth was out and the area was looking good, and the dentist's nurse was helping me sit up, patting my shoulder, saying "it's over, it's over, it's over", offering me a large painkiller and asking me if I wanted anything to comfort me. She got my boyfriend from the waiting room and I just clung on to him, tears pouring down my face.
The dentist had a strange look on his face, he was careful to start speaking, as if my freaking out had gotten to him. He said I should go to a doctor who can use laughing gas next time. He also said he'd rarely seen the condition I had that bad, and that it was extremely good that I showed up. I cried all the way out, and we went to get me some ice cream for when I'd be allowed to eat a couple hours later.
I'd been warned I may need more painkillers, but I haven't taken any since I exited the dentist's office. The nerve pain is gone, reduced into a tiny little throbbing in my cheek where the tooth used to be. That's so ridiculously small of a discomfort compared to earlier, I don't want to bug my guts any longer with painkillers.
I spent most of yesterday just being amazed that the nerve pain was gone. This morning, too - I just lay in bed enjoying how calm I felt, paying attention to how my thoughts didn't feel like a traffic jam. I pulled the sheet up over my ears and let myself take a nap. I must rest a few days, not get my pulse up, so napping a lot is all good. I'm also not allowed to chew on anything, or eat or drink anything hot. It's okay. It's all okay. Smoothies are great, iced coffee is great, ice cream is great, and when I start eating real food again it'll taste all the better.
I'm pretty sure that the fatigue I had was my body reacting to the bad tooth, trying to fight the spreading infection, but I just didn't feel it before it went far enough to hit the facial nerve.
I'll have to catch up with all the studying I missed, blog writings, e-mails, bills to pay... I'll get to it. I just need a couple days more rest and I'll be ready for the world again.