A couple of weeks ago I had a pain. Now, me and pain, we go way back. We have a mutual understanding: I will ignore pain, and pain usually goes away. If pain doesn't go away? I turn to the world wide web.
I'm freakishly healthy. There are colds here and there, yeah. And now I'm getting my first taste of "old lady aches and pains". But the times in my life when I've experienced Real Pain have been few and far between.
I've had three c-sections, and with each one I was up and out of that damn bed within a couple of hours of having my abdomen opened up. The main motivator in these instances was not wanting to hold my sweet new babes, but rather, to get that $%&*#@@ catheter out of my pee pee.
The lone vaginal birth was horrifying (in my world, VBAC is slang for "Girl, your Vagina Be All Cut up!") but again, after a thousand or so stitches, all was calm on the lady garden front. And back, and everywhere in between. But I digress.
My mouth has also been fantastically pain free. No major dental issues, no major procedures.
So when I started having a weird jaw pain a couple weeks ago, I gave it the cold shoulder. "I probably bit too hard on that damn Mentos" I told myself. "It'll be fine in a day or two." I slugged back a few Advil and went on my merry way.
By the end of the week, however, it was taking more and more Advil to ignore the pain, and my inner hypochondriac shoved cold shoulder girl aside. "I got this, dumbass" she said, as she fired up the laptop and Googled "pain in left jaw".
Within five minutes, Hypochondriac Me was convinced we were in the throes of a heart attack, or bone cancer, or a stroke or an ear infection. Or all of those things, simultaneously.
Luckily, common sense prevailed (but not before I started wondering if anyone would make a Meal Train for me if it really was something bad) and I narrowed it down to two possibilities: something tooth related, or something ear related.
Of course the pain peaked around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday. Our regular dentist is only open four days a week, and Saturdays aren't one of them. So I called the Health Partners Emergency line and in between sobs I managed to get an appointment at another dental clinic first thing in the morning. My apologies to the poor woman on the other end of the line. (I'm beginning to notice a trend here...me, sobbing on the phone to various customer service reps. Comcast, the power company, Health Partners...hmmm. Who's next?)
(AT&T reps...you've been warned.)
The dentist said he saw nothing in my mouth that could be causing the pain. "Sometimes these things take a while to manifest" he said as he snapped off his gloves. "Give us a call in the next few days if you're still hurting." And then he said these magic words:
"In the meantime, I'll give you a prescription for some Vicodin. That way you can get some sleep!"
Now, these words were magic because I was in such awful pain, such throbbing, pulsating pain, that the mere mention of a painkiller filled me with joy. But...I was also a little worried. I've had friends become addicted to painkillers. Plus, Matthew Perry.
I worry a lot about addiction. About becoming dependent on ANYTHING. This worry keeps my cocktail consumption in check, it kind of keeps my food consumption in check, and so far, aside from a brief dabbling in ADD medication, it's kept me completely terrified of pharmaceuticals. Because I've seen firsthand how it overtakes lives. And I don't have time for that.
I got the Vicodin prescription filled. And I hesitated to take the first one, even though the logical part of my brain knew it would bring some relief. My BFF Danielle, no stranger to pain herself, ordered me to take one.
I sent her a text after the first pill was dutifully swallowed: "Down the hatch!".
And within minutes, the agony in my mouth went away. I was on cloud nine. I kept careful track of my Vicodin consumption over the next few days, vigilantly writing down the times I took each one. Visions of frighteningly thin pre-rehab Chandler Bing ran through my mind, you see, so I wanted to make very sure that I never exceeded the recommended amount.
I was also given antibiotics on the off chance that the pain was an ear infection. And let me tell you this: when your friend who happens to be a doctor tells you to "eat lots of yogurt to avoid the antibiotic-induced yeast infections and shits", YOU EAT THE YOGURT, ladies. I skipped the yogurt one day. It's one thing to push your own children out of the way while you clench-run to the bathroom, it's another thing entirely when it's a wall of preschoolers standing between you and the grown-up sized toilets at the school.
Miss Jenny was not at the top of her game that week, kids. My apologies.
It ended up being a cracked tooth. And I ended up having my first root canal, which I found to be completely painless. In fact, the second my mouth was numbed up I felt like the old me. I managed to not chew my lips off, and dare I say, I may have lost a couple of pounds due to not being able to eat with the left side of my mouth for a week.
And I did NOT become addicted to Vicodin. I did, however, keep the leftovers.
Just in case.