On Root Canals and Roid Rage

I’m in the throes of a raging tooth infection. The gums around my bridge were irritated last week, and after having my teeth cleaned on Tuesday, I woke up in terrible pain on Wednesday. I knew something was wrong and went to see my dentist, Dr. A, that afternoon. “Well, young lady,” he started—he often calls me “young lady,” which is endearing as I’m swiftly approaching 40 and because we are about the same age—his face concerned, “we’ve got to get you in for a root canal.”

I was not exactly happy to hear it, but I took the news well.

The same could not be said about the day before, when I had cried in his office about a filling that needs to be replaced. It’s difficult to numb me enough not to feel anything, so I am often zinged during “simple” procedures involving drilling. I get anxious just thinking about it.

Putting aside the way teeth are weakened by root canals, I prefer them to fillings because I’ve never been hurt while having one. This will be my fourth visit (!) to the endodontist for root canal treatment. Halcion, a lovely sedative that makes everything a blur after it has taken place, helps tremendously. The doctor is gentle and kind and calls personally later in the day to make sure patients are feeling okay. I joke that I would marry him if I could, but he’s probably a bit put off by the kind of person who needs endodontic treatment so frequently. Oh, and he has a family. Oh, and so do I.

I wonder how my immunosuppression from Ocrevus has affected my ability to fight this infection. I began taking oral antibiotics after my visit with Dr. A on Wednesday, but the pain just kept getting worse. I was sobbing and trembling because of it on Saturday night before I finally broke down and called his emergency number. The antibiotics weren’t doing a thing, fevers coming and going, MS making my feet tingle again, so he prescribed steroids. Ugh, steroids. They are helping, but they come with the usual drawbacks: my face is red and puffy, sleeping is a challenge, and my emotions are on a short leash.

After work and a walk today, I tried to take a much-needed nap. Just after dozing off, I woke to the sound of my dog Maggie barking outside. I hurried downstairs to let her in and found my other dog Gus polishing off her bowl of food. My husband knows better than to leave Gus around food unsupervised because he waits for any opportunity to get a second meal, and he also knows better than to put either dog out in the yard and leave it there. It was 75 degrees and beautiful out today, Maggie’s favorite kind of weather, so for her to bark to be let back in means she’d been out there for a long time. Where was Alvaro? He was in the basement sleeping soundly, taking the nap I so desperately needed. I tried not to overreact, but that kind of carelessness and selfishness sets me off on a good day, never mind one where I’m battling with steroid-induced emotional lows. He at least had the good sense to apologize for screwing up, which might be why he’s still alive.

I’ll keep riding this steroid rollercoaster along with antibiotic treatment until Wednesday morning, when my root canal is scheduled. And while I’d at first felt bad that Alvaro was going to have to get up early on his day off to take me to the appointment, it seems fitting after this afternoon. I hope the Halcion frees me from roid rage, the root canal frees me from pain, and all is well in the world again.

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