Tuesday 17 January 2012

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I Don't Do Dentists (Except in San Diego)

I can be a little stubborn when it comes to going to a doctor. There's pretty much got to be a ridiculous amount of pain or an overabundance of blood before the thought of "I should see a doctor about that" will cross my mind. My general medical plan is that everything will go away eventually if you just tough your way through it. This annoys my wife to no end, as she's the one who has to deal with me while I'm putting on my tough guy act. Eventually she will call and make an appointment for me with the doctor, then tell me what time I'm supposed to be there. I may be tough enough to battle through a broken ankle, but I'm not brave enough to disobey my wife if she tells me to be somewhere. The machismo line has to be drawn somewhere.

My stubbornness with doctors however, is nothing compared to my dislike for the dentist office. I stopped going to the dentist when I was 16, and I managed to make it 25 years without having to go back. Unfortunately for me, the reason for having to go back managed to derail a good portion of one of our vacations.

We had arrived in Disneyland a few days before Christmas, and almost instantly I began to have a toothache. Now just like my rock solid "ignore it" plan for dealing with medical issues, I have another flawless method for getting me through dental problems. I stop eating sweet stuff. For a few hours anyways. Normally that's enough to get the pain to go away, but on this particular occasion, it didn't do the job. I decided to go over to Walgreens and pick up some toothache medicine to help things along a little. It got me through the day, but by the next morning I was slathering the stuff on like hot fudge on a sundae (which is probably a bad analogy to use for a toothache).

Problem was, we had to change hotels that day (Yes, we were hotel hopping again). We were headed out to Huntington Beach, but by the time we got there and got settled in, I was in an enormous amount of pain. I managed to explore a little bit with the family, but eventually I set them off on their own and I went back to the room to load up on Tylenol and Anbesol. I managed to numb the pain a little to get through the day, although the temptation to amp the pain relief up with some of the Whiskey in the mini-bar was huge (That's what they use in all the old west movies right?). Somehow I made it through a very restless night, and of course, in the morning, it was time to change hotels again.

This time we were heading to San Diego, so I loaded up on Tylenol and took a few extra swigs of Anbesol before we set off. About 15 minutes into the drive it became clear to me that there was going to be a problem. See, when your tooth is killing you, you don't really feel like eating, and when you don't eat, large quantities of Tylenol and very little sleep are not a good mix. I owe a large debt of gratitude to whoever was driving their blue Toyota Tercel down California State Route 73 that day, because all I did was follow them wherever they were going, and I'm eternally grateful to them for actually going to San Diego and not stopping along the way. Sure we had followed them a few miles past our exit before anybody realized that I didn't really know where I was going, but the blue car got us into the general vicinity, which I'm sure is far better than I would have managed on my own.

By the time we got to Mission Bay, the jig was up. I asked the concierge for the nearest walk-in clinic and went off to get checked out. By the way, $175 just to see a doctor? I can see why there's such a fuss about affordable health care in the States. After checking me out, I was told that I had an infected tooth, and that I should probably cut the vacation short and go home and see my dentist (or in my case, actually find one). They gave me some anti-biotics and pain-killers to help me keep things under control, told me to lay off the Anbesol as apparently I had burned my gums all around the infected area (I probably should have stuck to the instructions on the bottle), and sent me on my way.

We decided not to bother trying to get home as the next day was Christmas Eve and no dentists were going to be open anyways. By the time we moved back up to the Anaheim area, the anti-biotics were doing their thing and I was starting to feel better. We managed to finish out our vacation, then when I got home I had to go see my first dentist in 25 years. The verdict? The infected tooth had to be pulled, and I had one other cavity. Not too bad for 25 years of neglect. Of course it still took my wife calling to make an appointment for me to get the other cavity filled. I just can't bring myself to make appointments with doctors or dentists. Ask me how long it took once we decided that we were done having children. Believe me, I wasn't calling to make that appointment.