Dealing with Pain : The Conspiracy of Mind and Body

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I had a not so smooth-start in 2019. It’s a story of a chronic pain, chronologically.

It begins on December 2018 when I had a throbbing toothache for weeks. I decided to go to a dental clinic. The dentist I choose was the last doctor that performed my wisdom tooth extraction, months previously. My teeth were actually looking good on the outside but after several drilling, the dentist decided to have a root canal, after studying the cavity had reach an extended depth, down to pulp and hit some nerves.

Since I was always a little nervous with dental procedures, I decided to just trust him, and I said yes.

“Yes” in a manner that he didn’t really leave me with any other option. 

There it was.Hell of a pain and he didn’t even drop a single anesthesia, until I keep moving away from him. The term cold feet and shaking were literally happened.

Even during the next visitations, the nerve removal were carried out with no anesthesia. 

There were never any x-ray conducted foregoing or after the treatment. And at the last visit, he decided to settle that the root canal had been successfully treated. The only thing that were asked were whether I still feel hurt or not. Which because of the medication and not using the teeth normally, my answer would always be; “it did hurt between two days ago and it doesn’t hurt now”. This answer apparently is his indicator to close the cavity and filled it permanently.

The Aftermath ; the chronic pain invasion

What came as the aftermath is this; I was still in a nagging chronic pain days after it. 

And a week passed by. 

Two weeks. 

A month. 

The first two weeks the pain infuriates me because the doctor promised this treatment should release the teeth from infection. Eventually, release it from pain—since I’ll be nerveless on the roots. Soon, It became more frustrating and mood-sinking. I was at a beautiful place having a birthday vacation with family. The pain just rings at moments deliberately with no mercy. A single molar ruined your serene day.

Two months afterward, I told my husband to consult it to his dentist. In order to find out what was really bothering, and he went back with an x-ray letter of referral. 

So, I did the panoramic photo at the following week. Gladly, the result came immediately. Before consulting it, I seek advice from a relative, that happened to be a colleague at the same clinic my dentist was.

As I showed her the X-ray file in a Watsapp chat that night, she determined that the root canal were not performed completely. At least not to the core of the apical. To be concluded, the dentist did not really do the job well.

The Choices of Managing Chronic Pain.

I can only relived the torturous sequence of the non-anesthesia, as I hear the prognosis of my root canal that night.

Thousands of desperate questions and fear enveloped me in apathy of continuing my business with dentists. I still have several tooth to be fixed, somehow it became a burden, considering dental fees at reliable clinics are not exactly affordable, and I have to experienced this? 

Constantly comparing my condition, with other people stories that has far, worst situation, is like a false hope I keep forcing myself to swallowed. 

For example, James Frey on his book, Million Little Pieces, endured  unbelievable pain replacing his front teeth without any drug intervention. And what about how less fortunate other people who have to suffer having chemotherapy for months, and sometimes years. Not knowing the rate of success when you’re in the last stage of cancer, but some chronic pain can emerged as side effects.

Talking to myself a lot about not to dive into the pity-party, and not to give in so easily to self-deprecating. Feeding positive vibes into a contaminated head, is like a bottomless glass I keep trying to filled. Endless.

I meditate on car trips over the weekend so that I don’t get snappy with my own kids, triggered by the pain. It worked in certain period, but as other challenges in my life emerges. PMS nausea,work stress,  and other life obstacles is making it harder to remain collected, particularly when the suffering add up by going sick with the flu. 

Funny, how sometimes, surrender in bed, and excusing yourself for not being able to do your daily chores turns out to be peaceful. 

At other times, the throbs continues scraping the pieces of your mind, bitterly.

Exhausted to have every attempt in staying logical. The mind always find a way to return to the anxious feeling that builds up, especially during the evening. As I go to sleep,my jaw were clicking and I woke up to find them jamming tightly between my molars and the few wisdom I had left, because of the anxiety.

A Decision for the pain

I have to reach a decision. A way, either I made the prior dentist responsible, or signing up to a different one? Oh the agony of chronic pain, the twisted over-thinking of the cause and how it belittled your heart. Some podcast and influencers instagram stories ,featuring chronic pain healing, had left me with questions : is your mind playing tricks on you, or your body tricks your mind? Can we really control our pain? Occasionally numbing it with several painkillers was absolutely not how I intended to live my life for some long period of time.

Jim Carey once said, we can decide something with two options, either based on love, or fear. So after ignoring, shutting the thoughts of it, and chewing food several weeks without using it, I decided to go to a different dentist. I didn’t know there was so much trauma I had that I even started shaking in the waiting room. Forgiving the preceding dentist is not yet at the plan. But the agenda is more likely to appear since I vowed to myself not to go back,neither to hold him accountable to fix the pain he caused.

So I chose love to handle it, although fear lurks in behind every now and then, I am not going to let it stomp over me. I decided to have it re-treated next friday. I decided to move along. So, being brave,  I start taking rational ideas in mind, to accept whatever come as the boundaries of it. Women endure their limits since they got their first period and accept the fact that they have to go through it every month for nearly, the rest of their life. It was a somehow biological and an inevitable cycle. Pain or other discomforts might erupt and the weariness of our age might tolerate it. 

A new procedure come up

After several weeks of finding out how to lift the pain, the new dentist suggested in giving a gap that doesn’t exist between the root canal-molar, and the other molar behind it. The purpose is to reduce the strain to the lower gum after heavy chewing. He was so concern in releasing me from pain that it actually worked. The frequency of pain dropped almost 60% after the decision. I was so grateful that I neglected the moments when the pain emerges and just bear with it. It always seem to be gone less than an hour. I also did some life hacks on how to be calmer in just less than two weeks.

In addition to that, a Ted-talk I watched recently, gave me a surge of acceptance, maybe not a closure, but the perfect inspiration.

Emily Levine, in came across reality.

It was the liveliness of the dying 74-years old Emily Levine. In her very insightful talk called “How I made friends with reality.”

She had the fourth-stage lung cancer at that time. That’s a contract of chronic pain of a lifetime. Emily tells us how to live her final life in such philosophical reflections of life and death, that you didn’t catch a single dot of worry in her face. Only comedy and lightness. How we are simply particles and have to stop thinking selfishly about ourselves. How she sees life and death as an interactions that kept us going for the sake of nature. Truly, the interactions that happened gave us energy and strength to live a meaningful life.

Thank you, Emily, for showing me to keep marching for life. God bless and may you Rest in Peace. This is one of the joke she told us in ted-talk.

Nature is like a self driving-car. It’s like that joke. Where a middle-aged woman is seating in the passenger seat, as her old mother is driving and passing a red light. And the daughter stay silent because she doesn’t want to say anything that sounded like “you’re too old to drive.

So the mother passes another red light, and she can’t help but raised the question  : “Mom, are you aware that you just went through two red lights?”

Mother, stunned and said “Oh, Am I driving??.”

-Emily Levine 23 Oktober 1944 – 3 Februari 2019

Author: Fraya

A writer and entrepreneur with profound interest in humankind research and insights. An avid coffee drinker and book hoarder. Hours and days spent in Jakarta.

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