Across Continents

Ken's Blog

In the chair

It appeared that the surgery doubled as a waiting room. At least, I hadn’t found one, and there were two women sat in the corner next to what I recognised as a dentist’s chair. I was fairly certain they weren’t dental assistants. Never moved. The dentist herself was left to wipe the instruments with what I hoped was antiseptic spray. No autoclave. Just a microwave in the corner. Probably for lunch.

I already knew they didn’t do local anaesthetic, and had toyed with bringing along some of my own. In the end I’d decided against it. Never mind the language difficulties, I’d a pretty good idea that inadvertent misuse of such drugs could be, at best, unwise. Besides, the dentist had been sufficiently unimpressed with my use of antibiotics. Not for dental treatment I was told. Not what the UK patient information sheet said, but probably best to leave it there.

Bit of tapping. Did it hurt? Had to concentrate. Bulgarians nod for no, shake their head for yes. I was very keen to get it right for once, reliant on word association. ’Ne’ means no, and I’d imagine a horse nodding as it ’Ne’d’. Inconclusive. I’d need an X-ray. But that would be in another town, forty or so kilometres away. Then treatment would be spread over five or so days.

Back outside I contemplated what to do next. Quite mild now. About minus five. I’d had some last minute emergency dental treatment done before I’d left for France, finally sorting out a problem that had niggled me all summer and which had eluded my own dentist. But that was with a very experienced surgeon and a well-equipped surgery. Here I sensed a lot of time and effort could be expended for little, if any, benefit. I’d already started a course of antibiotics and had plenty of painkillers. No need to rush into treatment I might come to regret. Istanbul was looking like my best bet. At least any X-rays would be within walking distance.

[Author’s note: My medical kit includes a number of drugs prescribed for personal use, and for which I have received specific training from UK medical professionals with extensive overseas expedition experience. Notwithstanding this, advice was sought from a very experienced dental surgeon before embarking on the course of antibiotics]


3 responses to “In the chair”

  1. Peter Moody says:

    Poor you! Over-proof brandy and oil of cloves were my gran’s sovereign toothache pain killer recipe. One was rubbed on the gum and the other taken internally. Can’t remember now which was which.
    I must say that I feel a little let down. From what I learned from you about your preparations for this epic journey I held you up as THE ROLE MODEL for meticulous contingency planning. The perfect safety case writer! Here you are, barely 100 days into the deployment and you get tooth ache! TUT TUT.
    When did Emma get her name? I like it. However (!) one of my oldest friends, Emma by name, reacted rather stonily when I told her. Apparently she immediately thought of the classic name for a girl of easy virtue, “the village bike”. Hey Ho…
    One of my clients, John Heesom will set off in the New Year to follow your route, but in his case in a heavily loaded camper van, carrying his wife and all his worldly goods, to settle in SPASOVO, joining the growing band there of British ex-pats. Full retirement for him, with perhaps a bit of airport transfer service for the local real estate businesses.
    Well, I’m on leave now until midday on 4th Jan. Oddly enough, that morning I have a dental check appointment. Isn’t life amazing?
    You will have heard that we have suffered some lowish temperatures and some frozen precipitation in the South West recently. Total chaos ensues, of course.
    Where do you plan to be at New Year 2011?
    Much, much, later on, when you are coasting down the eastern side of Australia, I shall send you the details of my brother’s vineyard in Orange NSW
    All the best for 2010

  2. admin says:

    Why Emma? Tradition seems to be to give bicycles female names, and I chose this one because I like timeless English ones – has a lovely, soft, feminine ring to it I thought!

  3. Jackie Childs says:

    Sorry to hear about the toothache. My grannie also had some remedy involving brandy & oil of cloves but, as she had all her teeth removed for her 21st birthday (apparantly makes your life much easier!), I didn’t ever listen closely to her advice on dental health. Hope you feel better soon and HAPPY CHRISTMAS! Take care. Jacks

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