I know I'm a wimp. I realize that there are people in the world -- even in my own world, whom I know personally -- who deal with tremendous physical and/or emotional pain on a regular basis, the likes of which I may never experience. But there is something to the truism that one's personal immediate pain always seems to dwarf any competition.
I went to the dentist today. I have an ugly history with The Dentist; however, my visits improved in the last several years when I learned to search specifically for a dentist who believes me when I say, "I FEEL that!!! That HURTS!!!!!"
But when I got my first check-up here in Sioux City, I was informed that I have eleven -- count 'em, ELEVEN!!! -- different spots of decay in my mouth that require repair. I had two fillings a couple weeks ago. Today, I had two more. It was supposed to be a rather routine (albeit expensive) procedure, like the last one. But things didn't go so easily today.
She stuck the bite plate and a variety of fingers and instruments into my mouth and started to work. As time went on, I realized that my cheek kind of hurt when she pulled back on it to get access to the tooth. And it kept hurting more and more. I must've moaned a little bit at one point, because she asked, "Are you OK?" I did my best to indicate that my cheek was hurting and I wanted to shut my mouth a minute. She said no-can-do . . . if I shut your mouth now, it will mess up what we're doing and we'll have to start over, and we don't want that. Good Lord, no.
To her credit, she seemed to be working as quickly as she could, but it didn't help. Every time she pulled my cheek back, it absolutely ached. Not unbearably, really; I kept thinking, I can stand it a little longer. But a little longer stretched into longer. And longer. Tears involuntarily squeezed out of my eyes and down my cheeks. The assistant handed me a Kleenex and frantically swapped out instruments with the dentist. I couldn't believe how much this was hurting . . . surely I just needed to relax the muscles . . . but the more it hurt, the less I could relax, and the more I tensed up, the more it hurt.
Finally, she pulled out the biteplate and I forced my sore mouth closed. She said we'd rest my jaw a few minutes before finishing up. I sat with my eyes closed and suddenly realized I was genuinely going to cry. The assistant massaged my cheek muscles, and the dentist asked me, "Do you clench or grind your teeth?"
Hmph. Not that I know of.
Apparently, that's the only reason she could come up with for why having my mouth open that long should have caused such pain in the cheek muscles. She recommends a customized mouth guard (more money). But she can't give me one until all my dental work on my upper teeth is finished. WHATever.
I REALLY hate The Dentist.