Last Wednesday afternoon, I smiled and shook Dr. Hamid's hand and walked out of the PC Medical Office with a clean bill of health, better-than-average pulse, clean teeth
, no weight change, etc. I had successfully completed our routine Mid-Service Medicals in Rabat. I was delighted.
Despite this, I'm beginning to think my Peace Corps service is turning me into a hypochondriac
. Every day I have a new physical ailment. Last weekend I was sick with a fever/cold and had to stay in bed for days. I blew my nose so much it started gushing blood. In one day I took motion-sickness pills for traveling, Ibuprofen because my body ached from the sickness, Doli rhume
(sick pills), and an allergy pill so I wouldn't sneeze and get bleary
-eyed from my friend's cat. I have had sharp pains throughout my chest, stomach and abdomen randomly for weeks. My wrists are to sensitive/weak to do many push ups or crack some one's
back, and if overstressed, require that I wear a wrist brace for several days to strengthen it again. I could go on.
The latest: a toothache. For those who care to know the history of this tooth read on. A few weeks before I was to leave for PC, I was still not medically cleared. The Washington Office kept returning my paperwork with an obscure code/number scribbled in. I was quite nervous to be cleared so that I would not miss the leave date. I went back to my dentist for the seventh time. She finally realized that PC D.C. had noticed a slight shadow on a back molar. She looked closely and supposed that this might be yet another cavity. She started drilling. My mouth is sensitive. Very sensitive
. Every time they drill for a cavity, they give me two to four Novocaine
shots and I am usually still praying that the torture will cease, face grimaced, knuckles white. this time it was even worse. No amount of Novocaine
helped. "Oh no.." She frowned, peering deep into my mouth. "What?!" I wanted no trouble, I just needed papers completed. You need a root canal. Right. I had to be cleared that week or I would be passed up for PC Morocco. She and her assistant called every orthodontist in Cincinnati. No one could get me in for two weeks. My eyes misted. Morocco faded. "But," she said with a glimmer in her eye: "I have one more idea. I have an old friend who services a poorer section of Northern Kentucky. She does excellent work. And her life mission is to help poorer districts. She might be able to get you soon. Would you like me to call her?" "Yes! Please." I could hear her sweet voice speaking in low tones at the front desk. Soon she returned. "You have an appointment at 2PM today. And the cavities we filled today are free, in gratitude of your future service in Morocco." I broke into tears and hugged her. Never dreamed I'd be hugging a dentist.
The root canal was completed without a crown, the dentist judging a crown unnecessary at the time. I made medical clearance in time to secure my spot in the Moroccan team. I was satisfied.
In the past year, the tooth has dully pained me from time to time. I used mouthwash or just ignored it and it would fade after a few days.
At my consultation with the dentist last week, I asked him to carefully examine the 12-year molar. I was curious whether it was weak and in danger of cracking: if a crown might be necessary now. He said it appeared the surgeon was skilled and the tooth was in no danger. (Even more details that you don't care to know: due to an excessively small mouth, I have had 10 teeth pulled in the course of my lifetime. One of which, was the lower corresponding 12-year-molar. The dentist was concerned that the upper molar in question had no contact when I masticated. We checked. Me previous dental work had taken that into consideration. One corner of the tooth contacted a lower pearly-white. All was fine.)
Now up-to-date: the day before yesterday this same tooth began aching again, slightly. Yesterday the pain increased. Last night, as I was watching "Rent" with a few friends, the pain grew into a jackhammer pounding away at my brain. I dismissed myself from the movie and went into the bathroom. I tried to floss it. My tooth punished the action. I clung to the bathroom sink and sunk to the floor. Despite eyelids squeezed tightly, tears moistened my cheek. I took to Ibuprofen and tried to return to the movie. A few minutes later, unable to bear the pain, I got up again. This time Jess tried to find some way to help. She grabbed some ice out of the fridge for me to suck on and numb the pain. It only temporarily helped, but after each freezing cube, the pain returned with more vengeance. I stumbled about the house in silence, trying not to disturb my friends. A thought came into my head: what if they knocked me out
? How problematic would that be? It might be worth it.
Okay, enough with silly ideas. I swallowed more pain-relievers and drank hot milk. Eventually the pain subsided enough to allow a few other thoughts to enter my head and I returned to the movie scene, ignoring the dull thud in my skull.
This morning I woke to the same dull pain, took more pain killers and called the doctor. We will consult with the dentist on Monday. In the mean time, I carefully ascertained how much pain medication I could take without risk. So, as I wait for the next step, I'll just revel in becoming a druggie. Who would have thought.
Curious what my next faux maladie