Across Continents

Ken's Blog


September 24th, 2011

I’d felt a bit nervous returning to the surgery with some chocolates. By way of a small thank you for treating me so promptly, and with such care. Quietly mentioning I thought most things were fine in moderation. Joked I’d never met a woman who didn’t like them, and if I did there was always carob.

Despite a good night’s rest I didn’t entirely feel on full form. Little bit jaded, perhaps a bit light-headed. Combination, I thought, of various medications and anaesthetic, much of it on an empty stomach. But still magnitudes better than the previous day, for which I was immensely grateful.


Monte the dentist had called me earlier, making sure I was fine. I was keen, I explained, to drop in and thank everyone in person. When would suit best I’d asked. Lunchtime he’d suggested. Mental note to self. Don’t stay too long. Quick photograph. Doubtless the only chance they’d have to sit down all day. And I’d Betsy and Rocky to go and thank for all their kindness and help.



Kicked into life

September 23rd, 2011

Just after three in the afternoon. Knock on the door. Betsy and Rocky. Checking up on me. Concerned they’d not seen me all day. I admitted I’d not slept, barely even dozed. Painkillers not making a dent, my face swollen with an ever present throbbing pulse. Waiting for the powerful antibiotics to reduce the swelling and permit the rogue tooth to be extracted.

They were polite but firm. I shouldn’t be accepting this degree of suffering. Betsy would run me back down to the nearby surgery. See if they could prescribe something stronger for the pain. I didn’t argue. For one thing, I knew they had my best interests at heart. They were right. So absorbed by the pain, I simply wasn’t thinking straight. I didn’t argue.

Less than fifteen minutes later I was in the chair. Feeling elated as the local anaesthetic quickly took hold. Positively savouring the absence of pain. Monte the dentist had been very clear. Such was the extent of the infection waiting any longer for the swelling to reduce wouldn’t make a jot of difference. Better to extract the tooth straightaway. I nodded in firm agreement. Just as I knew Betsy and Rocky would take care of me, I’d absolute trust in Monte from the moment I met him.

It took a while to extract the problem child. Last little bit of root proving particularly tricky. But I never felt – or saw – a thing. Eyes firmly closed. Vaguely aware of others coming and going. Almost intoxicated by the absence of suffering. A joyous feeling.

[The author is indebted to Betsy and husband Andy, Rocky, together with Monte the dentist and his team – Jennie, Rachel and Christy for all their help]



Pulling teeth

September 23rd, 2011

Careful sip of iced water. Brief pause. Still sat down, rather than finding myself attached to the ceiling. I’d joked with the waitress that might be a little disconcerting for the other diners. Cold drinks far more palatable than tepid coffee. Decided to opt for a baked potato whilst I waited for the powerful antibiotics I’d been prescribed to kick in.


In Victorian times, explained Monte earlier in the day, dental infections of this sort were a major cause of death. Untreated quickly spreading to more critical parts of the body. Adding that today we didn’t think of these things as life threatening simply because suitable antibiotics were usually readily available to check them. So, I asked, this was definitely a dental emergency? Yes. Absolutely he replied.

But what to do about it? They’d been a few twinges over the past month or so, nothing serious, certainly not enough to actively seek treatment. Until now. We settled on removal, for several previous attempts at saving the tooth had failed to provide a permanent solution. I’d have to wait a further day for the underlying infection to clear up before extraction, and would need to remain close by for at least another twenty four hours in case of clotting complications.

I headed off to a nearby pharmacy torn between being pleased that the root cause of the pain had been uncovered and a solution worked out, and frustration at having to wait around for treatment, unavoidable though that was.

[Author’s note: Intrigued to find, in a land of outrageously expensive healthcare, prescription antibiotics cheaper than in the UK. Painkillers similar, although the ones I’ve got would appear to double as horse tranquilizers. Or maybe bears? When it says on the package "will cause drowsiness" – as opposed to "may" – they’re not joking… And a big thank you to Monte and Jenny at the dental surgery for being so accommodating, generously providing a prognosis and x-rays for free]


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