It was the toothache from hell. But I deserve no pity for my suffering. I am supposed to wear a mouth guard when I sleep and I don’t. It makes me look like Rocky Balboa from the movies. Plus it feels funny. So there’s that.
“You are a tooth grinder and a jaw clencher,” my ace dentist, Mike Howenstein, told me. “If you don’t wear a night guard, you’ll mess up your teeth.”
Well, one tooth, anyway.
He was No. 14, according to the dental chart. I cracked him in half during a particularly disturbing dream. He didn’t hurt then. But eventually, he brought me to my knees. I held a bag of frozen peas on my jaw until I could get in for a root canal to alleviate the pain.
But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was I knew the endodontist who performed the emergency procedure. As it turned out, I went to high school with the guy and he recognized me from our teen years. We’re talking me with no sleep. No shower. No make-up.
It was mortifying. Especially since his hair looked better than mine.
“What does that say about me?” I asked my best pal, Lydia Kachigian, later. “I’m in such pain I can’t see straight — but still I’m embarrassed that someone from high school recognized me when I looked gross.”
“I think it says you’re vain, Shell,” Lyd said, matter-of-factly. “What do you think it says?”
“I think it says I must have been ugly in high school. I mean, the guy was looking up my nose, digging in my broken tooth, saying, ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’”
Which brings me to another point. Why do we always run into people we know when we look awful? And when we look great? Well, where are they then? It’s like, if your house is clean, nobody drops by for a visit. But let it get messy and they line up around the block.
The good news is the root canal was a success. I am pain free as I write this and I wore my mouth guard last night. The bottom half of the guard fell out while I was sleeping. I found it under my pillow. No teeth were cracked in the meantime.
In a few days, I will go back to the dentist to get a crown on what’s left of No. 14.
I plan to wear lipstick for the procedure.