Mini holiday in the Barossa Valley. Four nights of luxury and relaxation. My first vacation from work that doesn’t involve hospitals in six years. Have I been looking forward to this little trip? Yes, yes I have. Did something go wrong? Yes, yes it did.
On Tuesday night I took our toy poodle Arnold over to my parents’ house. He’s going on his own little vacation and gets to spend the week with them. He loves my parents more than anyone or anything else on the planet, so I wasn’t worried about leaving my little smoochie puppy behind. Doug keeps on reminding me that I need to get used to little beings that I love preferring my parents over me – all kids love staying at their grandmas house.
I was standing in my mother’s kitchen when it happened. I pulled a stick of gum out of my handbag and put it in my mouth. Nothing new there, I chew gum all the time.
Suddenly as I chomped on the gum a burning pain shot up the right side of my mouth and I bit down heavily on something unexpectedly hard and gritty, something that definitely wasn’t gum.
Immediately I screamed and spat the contents of my mouth into my hand: Gum. Blood. Tooth fragment.
For a few moments I just stood there in complete shock, clutching my throbbing mouth with one hand and holding my tooth in the palm of the other.
“Oh my God!” shrieked my mother, who had witnessed the whole thing. “Is that tooth or a white filling?”
“I don’t know!” I replied, starting to sob as the shock wore off.
I felt around with my tongue and quickly found a huge gap in one of my bottom right molars. I raced to the bathroom mirror and could see that the back half of my tooth had crumbled away.
“Sadie don’t cry you’ll make the pain worse.” Mum said. “Let me have a look.”
I turned to her and opened my mouth wide.
“Um…what is the black stuff all over your back teeth? Is that rot?” she gasped. “No wonder your tooth cracked! When was the last time you went to the dentist?”
The truth is, I haven’t been to the dentist since I started seeing my first fertility specialist and had my first surgery, twelve months before we officially started trying to conceive. We’d always known we would have trouble falling pregnant, given my medical problems, and had started preparing and saving years ago. I didn’t want to waste any money at the dentist that could have gone towards funding IVF. Stupid I know, but women who can’t have children yet desperately want them are prone to doing stupid things.
“It’s been nearly four years since I saw a dentist.” I confessed.
“Four years! Well you’ll need to see a dentist immediately for that cracked tooth!” Mum replied.
“Totally out of the question!” I told her. “I’m flying to Adelaide tomorrow morning! I’ll just numb it with painkillers and deal with it next week.”
But after arriving in Adelaide it became pretty clear pretty quickly that painkillers weren’t going to do the trick. My tooth reacted with a zing to hot and cold food, and I barely slept last night even though the hotel bed was super comfy and warm.
So this morning I bit the bullet (not literally…because, cracked tooth…) and asked the concierge at the hotel to help me find a dentist nearby. What fun, I hear you say! A trip to the dentist should be included in every vacation!
My appointment was at midday so I didn’t bother to have lunch before I went, given that my mouth was aching. I figured I could have food afterwards once the tooth was filled. Good plan? Great plan!
The dentist was young and friendly, not at all the way I remember dentists being. I explained to her that I’ve been going through fertility treatment and pushing every cent into that venture, and asked her not to judge the state of my mouth. She agreed not to say a word about any of my other teeth, and just to do a quick fix on the broken tooth. Before I knew it I was lying back in the chair, opening wide and saying aaahhhh.
“The hole isn’t actually that bad. You shouldn’t be having such a strong pain response.” she said, pursing her lips. “Let me do some tests and take an x-ray.”
After all the tests were complete I could tell just by the look on the dentist’s face that the news wasn’t good.
“You have a bad bacterial infection below your tooth.” she said.
“Okay….” I said nervously. “What are my options?”
“We can remove the tooth and either leave you with a gap, or give you dentures or an implant,” she said. “But given your age, I strongly recommend a root canal.”
Root canal? Root canal?!?! Or…..DENTURES?!?!
“The problem is, we do root canals in three stages to allow your mouth to heal,” the dentist said. “I can easily do the first stage here, you can get the second done back home in Melbourne in a few weeks and the third a few months after that.”
It all seemed reasonably straight forward.
“So why is there a problem?” I asked.
“Well first of all this procedure is going to leave you around $2000 out of pocket, which might effect your ability to pay for future fertility treatment,” she said. “Plus each step of the process requires x-rays, and if you’re pregnant in a few months we really shouldn’t be x-raying you.”
I swear my heart started thumped in my chest and my hands went all clammy. $2000?! That was almost half an IVF cycle. For one tooth! I didn’t feel comfortable making that kind of decision about our money without at least asking my husband first, but I knew for a fact he was in the sauna back at the hotel so I had no way of contacting him. I had to make the decision alone.
More importantly, was this one friggen tooth going to set us back in our fertility treatment? What if I fell pregnant in the September cycle? What if I had to expose my baby to x-ray radiation? What if I had to get the tooth pulled out because I couldn’t get the x-ray?!
Then I remembered my last blog post, and how I’d decided to stop living my life for the “what if” and the “maybe” and start being a whole person again. More than anything I knew I didn’t want to be a 27 year old with dentures.
“Ok let’s do the root canal.” I decided.
And a fun afternoon was had at the dentist!
I am now back at the hotel room resting. I am incredibly numb and swollen, yet also in pain where they injected me with anesthetic. My nerves aren’t in the usual places so it took them four lots of anesthetic to finally knock the offending nerve out. I also can’t eat anything until after 9pm. We had dinner reservations for 7.30. Night ruined! Not to mention I’m starving because I had no lunch!
But I still think I’ve made the right decision. I mean, what else was I supposed to do? Luckily my best friend back home is a dentist and he is going to take care of the second stage of the root canal and also clean up the rest of my mouth. He was shocked when I called him to tell him what happened. How shameful is it that I haven’t been to a dentist in so long when my best friend is a dentist…….
I am trying so hard not to be upset and let this root canal ruin my first vacation in six years. This whole day is a write off. I’m hoping that I’m not sore tomorrow and I can actually relax and enjoy myself!
Seriously this has to be the low point of my vacation, right? RIGHT? It can’t actually get any worse than this, can it??? CAN IT?