Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tooth Ache

I've been mildly debilitated lately by a small but not unusual event - I bit down hard on a piece of bone in my ground beef. The result was not to have not cracked the tooth, dislodged a filling, or anything fixable, but rather to have bruised the periodontal ligament. You probably, like me, didn't know you had ligaments holding your teeth in place to your jaw, but of course we do. I never thought about it because it just never figured in my day to day before, even though I am, by nature, a curious and inquisitive fellow. It turns out this is not something my dentist is going to do anything about so I have merely been told to rinse with salt water and take plenty of painkillers.

The result of this bruising, however, has been excoriating moments of throbbing toothache from hell that, as they occur, literally leave me weak in the knees. As the waves of pain build up, like a wall of sound, I find myself leaving the world outside myself and retreating inside. Once the pain finally releases me it's like coming up for air from a deep dive where the only input is a murky sense of light coming from above. I would like to say that this whole episode will be over soon but I have been assured that I have weeks of this, made all the worse by the fact I grind my teeth at night and thus aggravate the bruised tissue further.

The interesting thing about it is the accompanying dip in creativity. I have no idea how people with chronic conditions, or even who just douse themselves with drugs and alcohol and mental anguish actually function as artists. I'm pushing ahead, doing my daily chores, planning out my stories for Pan Historia, even going to the studio, but part of the excitement is gone - replaced instead by the dread of that moment when the pain starts tapping on the roots of my teeth, spreading through the bone of my jaw, and then seizing me in a grip so tight I'm not sure I don't forget to breathe.

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