Pain. One word that evokes a lot of emotions. Unpleasant emotions. Even my about-to-be-2 year old knows this so well. “Ma yeg….is paaiinning me” is said in such an emotion laden voice – begging for understanding, for support, for anything mummy can do to make the pain go away instantly! Or at least make it better. Kisses and prayers are my magic wand. They always work wonders!
A couple of weeks ago I had to have my wisdom tooth pulled out. Why? I had been experiencing pain and acute sensitivity with both my lower last molars, and all my visits to the dentist over the last two years had always produced the same verdict. All four molars are impacted (upper and lower), we have to take them out.
I once made an appointment to have the lower two extracted at once, but of course yours truly grew cold feet and didn’t show up.
Eventually, nearly one month ago, I searched for a top range dental clinic I could be comfortable with, and made an appointment to get my teeth checked again. I knew the verdict before the examination. It was the same. Your last wisdom teeth are impacted, it’s best to take them out. This time I was given more reasons to do so. The x-ray revealed one of the impacted teeth was lying sideways and pushing into the next tooth to it. If I didn’t take it out, one day I was going to wake up with a mouth full of crooked teeth because of this push. Huh? And what’s more? this tooth could cause a cavity in the next one, meaning more pain. I would eventually have to take out two instead of one. Huh? So, I quietly made another appointment and submitted myself to the doctor’s expert advice. Take out my last molar (wisdom tooth), the most symptomatic one, the one lying sideways. Hmmmmmmn!
In retrospect, I honestly don’t know what I would have done differently. I have had several bouts of ‘had I known’ already, but of course I didn’t know. The surgery was projected to take about one hour, but we were on it for over three hours. Mouth wide open, with fancy instruments poking everywhere. Well, the surgery ended with only the crown of the tooth amputated, the root was left in, as the doctor judged it was more dangerous digging it out than leaving it in, as Mr. Tooth refused to be pulled out. And I was to learn later, this tooth was lying close to a nerve. Nerve!!! Why didn’t you tell me this?
So began my ordeal. The following week was filled with raw pain from the extraction site, and something more perplexing away from the extraction site – Numbness! Half my mouth remained numb – the gum on that side, my lower lip and chin! A funny kind of numb. I was unable to feel pain, but I could feel all sorts of other sensations – tingling and so on. Jeeez! I initially thought it was just the effect of anaesthesia, as I had to take several shots to deaden the extraction site. But, when day one became day 2, I knew I was on to something more. Of course, Dr. Google was there to help, so I did a quick search. How long should it take for anaesthesia from dental surgery to wear off? If it takes longer what does it mean? What’s the prognosis? Of course Dr. Google scared the hell outta me! Huh? I can’t even begin to recount all the scary things I read about this. But, I refused to despair and called the doctor instead. He studied the before and after x-rays, and told me my nerve was intact, but may have been bruised. Now, I studied Veterinary Medicine in the University, so I had a fair idea what that meant. Nerve? Bruised? Hmmmn! Still I refuse to despair. I’ve been on the road to full recovery since then. Slowly, but surely.
Of course this has got me all so philosophical about pain…and here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
Pain is not necessarily bad
In fact acute pain is protective, and the ability to feel pain is indeed a blessing. I know this so well, because when I lost all feeling to one side of my lip and chin, I really wanted to feel pain but I could not. I could easily have scalded myself or cut my self and still feel nothing. I also couldn’t taste food properly for days….Hmmmmn! So the next time someone steps on your foot or offers you tasteless food, first be grateful. Some people can’t tell either way.
Never let pain go to waste…it is a message
Pain let’s you know something is wrong, and prompts you to do something about it. It protects you from injury and further pain. With the ability to feel pain, comes the urge and usually the ability to remove the source of the pain. This is nature’s design. And this can be taken beyond physical pain. Never take it for granted that you are especially irked by something – how people never seem to pay attention to detail, poor customer service, the plight of the girl child, the state of the nation. Not everyone feels the same way about these issues. If you can feel the pain, then you can do something about it. Even if all you do about it is to help others avoid that pain, or make it easier for someone else to go through. Pain should never go to waste, it’s one of the most potent motivators to take action or find a solution. That’s nature’s design.
You are stronger than you think you are
You can bear much more than you ever thought you had the capacity to. Who would have thought? At some point I elected to stop taking pain killers (under supervision), as I was scared about the sheer amount I was having to take to keep the pain (from the extraction site) under control. I came face to face with paaiiiiiinnn! But it passed, and I survived it. Brace up and cheer up! This too shall soon pass!
Good Pain Vs Bad Pain
The difference between good pain and bad pain is an important lesson to learn. There is good pain, and there is bad pain. Good pain is acute and momentary. It soon gives way to relief and joy. This is the kind you have to go through to grow into a better person, or to birth something significant e.g while exercising for a better body; sacrificing sleep to learn something new; bringing forth a child or a business idea, etc. Good pain is good. We should embrace it.
And bad pain? It’s chronic. If the pain lingers on and on with no end in sight. It’s bad. If it has the potential to permanently damage a part of you – whether physically or emotionally. Then it’s bad. You should run like your life depends on it, because it does. Embrace good pain. Avoid bad pain.
I felt good pain momentarily. Pain from the extraction, which was to help me prevent further damage to my teeth. However, the pain persisted longer than it should have, and for that I had to seek help. If you’re esperiencing bad pain, get help.
You are as strong as your weakest link
In the thick of this ordeal, my productivity dropped to nearly sub-zero. I would lie down for hours on end just waiting for the pain to subside. I lost several hours, even days to hospital visits. Please pay attention to your body. Take care of it – eat clean and eat well, make out time to exercise no matter how inconsistent, get a check up every once in a while. You need a healthy body to be able to achieve all your lofty dreams and goals. #nuffsaid.
And one more for the road!
Not all that glitters is gold
Beware of social media! I managed to keep up appearance on social media platforms, liking posts, commenting on posts. Even posting a few pictures of mine. Anyone judging my life from that perspective would easily have come to the conclusion that all was well. I didnt stop ‘loling’, and ‘wowing’ and what not. Beware! It’s important to reach out to our loved ones outside of social media. Never assume all is well with someone just because they post lol on your post. Pick up the phone and call, meet up for drinks or a meal, and you might be able to truly say you have an idea of what’s going on in someone’s life. Not all that glitters is gold. Especially on social media!
I hope you learnt something too.
Photo Credit: Foto.com.ng