Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hold My Hand, Part 3

Nobody likes pain. Not really, I think.

Pain is cold, felt with negative feelings, if any emotion at all. It shows us that we are weak, fragile, vulnerable. Pain provides no comfort: it dispirits us, disheartens. Pain can evoke fear, and fear is a powerful foe.

When we're in pain, we naturally want to seek an escape, find pleasure. Find comfort. If we're lucky, we find that comfort in those that love us. If we're fortunate, we find it in those with compassion.

When I have injured myself, I have been fortunate to have those who loved me or those whose compassion has provided warmth through the pain, has alleviated my fears. Made the pain seem irrelevant. They say that our bodies don't remember pain quite like it remembers pleasure, and through all my past injuries, it's the pleasure of comfort that I remember the most.

Soon, however, I anticipate a coming pain, an impending discomfort, and my fears are beginning to take hold.

More than a year ago, as I sat down for movie night with my family, snacks and drinks before our large-screened TV, Netflix cued up, my wife and daughters settling in with me, I took a handful of popcorn and popped it in my mouth, and started to chew, I bit into a popcorn kernel. Because the action occurred just as I was swallowing, I was caught unaware and swallowed the kernel as well as the sweet-and-salty popcorn.

I silently cursed my gluttony and ran my tongue over the affected tooth, only to find a marked absence. More than two-thirds of a molar was missing above the gum line. There was no pain. There was no discomfort, apart from the ragged edges of the remaining tooth.

Our movie night continued, without further incident, without any pain. I continued to eat popcorn, chewing on the opposite side of the mouth, thoroughly rinsing my mouth with cool beer.

On the next business day, I called my dentist and made an appointment to repair the damage. A filler was used to reconstruct the missing portion of my tooth. It was a painless process, and after about an hour I was on my way, as though nothing had ever happened.

Over the following months, everything was fine, but then I noticed that I had a tender spot on my cheek, about an inch above the rebuilt tooth. If I applied gentle pressure to my cheekbone, I could feel mild pain that travelled to that tooth.

Another trip to the dentist, some additional shaping of the tooth.

But the discomfort never went away.

Earlier this month, more than a year after my tooth broke, at a regular checkup, I complained about the discomfort, adding that while it wasn't a painful sensation, it was a distraction. X-rays were taken, and I was shown where there was an inflammation near the root of the tooth. And I was given the two words I feared the most.

Root canal.

An appointment was made. I was told that the inflammation didn't appear severe, that we had detected it before it could get worse. The procedure was explained to me: there would be pain, but probably not much.

I don't like pain.

I immediately wanted to seek comfort, and found some, by way of sympathy, from my family. But sympathy won't make me feel comforted while the drill penetrates my tooth.

I want my hand held.

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