I am now in my mid 20’s. The last time I went to see the dentist for anything major was when I was in primary school. I don’t remember exactly when that was, but since that, I only go to the dentist for the small stuff such as for scaling, or those dentist check ups in secondary school that everybody has to go through. I haven’t had a toothache for almost two decades I guess and I intend to keep the number of my visit to the dentist at lower than one. Moreso when you take into account the fact that my visits to the dentist as a child always ended in blood (a little) and tears (a lot), and that I’ve always been scared of pointy and sharp objects. So, having a guy in a surgical mask poke around the inside of my mouth with sharp utensils is not very high on the list of ways I want to spend my weekend, even as an adult.
However, fate of course has a sneaky way of creeping up on you to screw you when you’re least expecting it to. I woke up that particular Thursday (last working day of the week in Kelantan, by the way) with a sore feeling at the right lower back of my mouth and my throat. No biggie, I’ve always had sensitive teeth near that area. The only problem was that my family was visiting that weekend and I was supposed to pick them up from the PC airport that day (for more info read this entry). “Hey, maybe a two-hour drive will take my mind off this definitely temporary pain” I thought to myself. How naive of me. If a two-hour drive cures anything, doctors would have prescribed it to patients, healthcare cost would be cheaper and petrol price in Malaysia would now be RM10 per litre.
So I got to the airport, picked up my family and drove straight back to Jeli. However it was Thursday evening (last working day, you city folks with your fancy normal working days) and the traffic going out of town was a bit heavy. Stopping the car made the pain obvious, and lord knows how hard I tried to stop myself from audibly cursing with my mother seated next to me in the car; I should probably get a medal or something. And to make it worse, my father was unusually inquisitive that day; asking questions about the places we were passing by; which I admittedly knew very little of, and asking me questions that I found to be annoying. Annoying questions X toothache = murderous rage. Enjoyable slasher movies have been made on lesser premises. However, my mother’s question was one that suited my predicament better; “Why don’t you go get that looked at?” I mumbled that I could still handle the pain and that was that for the day. We got to my house, I chatted a little with them before turning in for the night. I thought maybe the pain would have subsided when I woke up the next morning. But honestly, I didn’t want to get it looked at because it was still a week to pay day (I had to spend a lot of money on the house), and that I did not want to disrupt my family’s plan by having to rest and recuperate.
But of course, of mice and men and all that nonsense. On our way back to KB the next morning, the pain got really unbearable. Only then I found out that my employer’s healthcare benefit does not cover dentalcare (WTF? Don’t I work for the government?), and I decided to stop at the first private dentist that we came upon in Kok Lanas. The doctor, a guy who looked to be around my age, told me that a wisdom tooth had chosen the most unsuitable time to try to grow out of my gum. And in the most violent manner too. Since it had not come out of my gum, he had to cut my gum open and extract it because I did not have any space for an extra tooth to grow and flourish on; and afterwards sew the gum back together. It was in essence a minor operation. I said yes, do what you have to do (at that point I would have said yes to him removing my penis and reattaching it to my forehead if it meant alleviating the pain). Fastforward two hours later, the surgery was over. I asked him; “No MC? My work involves a lot of speaking and there’s no way I'm speaking with four stitches in my mouth”. He pooh-pooh-ed it and said it would be fine within “one day”. Guy skimped on the meds and painkillers, too. Motherfucker, you’re billing me RM400 (my mother footed the bill) for the surgery and you’re shoving me back into the world with just a few measly pills and no MC?
No bother, I had a family that wanted to visit KB and Pasar Siti Khadijah and I was dead set on getting them to the Pasar; sick or dead. God knows how I got to the place, but in my grogginess and pain, the first thing I did was get myself an A&W float while my family was at the Pasar; happily shopping. I didn’t feel like going into the Pasar; so I shuffled aimlessly around it, almost circling it even. What a sight I must’ve been that day. Feverish, gaping mouth (couldn’t close it shut), slurred speech, feet dragging, and eyes staring into the distance. I must’ve looked like a drug addict. Afterwards we checked into a hotel and rested which made feel a lot better that I could even take them to check out Pantai Cinta Berahi (screw political and religious correctness) and to this great Thai restaurant Keng Som for dinner. I even risked eating seafood, their food is that good.
I woke up the next day realising what a big mistake it had been giving in to the temptation, as I woke up with a swelling of the century on my right cheek; and the bleeding had not stopped at all. After sending off my family at the airport, I drove straight back to the dentist to ask his opinion; whether he still thought that it would heal in a day. Guy duly cleaned the blood, gave me some more shots and a three day medical leave (FOC this time). I went home, curled up in a ball, and sobbed like a little bitch. (Don’t judge me, okay? Falling sick does weird things to my emotions, I honestly don’t know why.)
Around two days later, I had to go out to have lunch. The thing is, I live in Jeli. It’s not like there are many diners or stalls you can choose from, so whether you like it or not, you will run into someone you know whenever you eat out. Not good for me, as I didn’t feel much like walking around town while looking like the Elephant Man of Jeli. I got to the place, got my food, and as I was starting to struggle with chewing (might as well be Olympics gymnastics at that time), some people I work with arrived for their lunch at the table across from where I was sitting, and they immediately saw me.
“How are you feeling?” A girl asked. (Really? That’s the most suitable question you can think of?)
I gesticulated “Meh”
“Oh my, you do look terrible!” Chirped another girl. (Ring-a-ding-ding! Winner!)
Wanting to stop receiving anymore obvious remarks, I lobbed my own small talk their way. “Why are you guys here? Don’t you always eat closer to the office?”
“We’re celebrating you not being at work of course” (Ooooohhhh, a comedian.)
“Should I die instead? That should make it more convenient for you” (My joke’s better)
The coming punchline however wasn’t verbal. Immediately after our not-so-friendly banter, they changed tables to one where they didn’t directly face me. It might be due to the fact that with my chewing difficulty, I look like a paralysed-person trying to eat (no offense); dribbling and drooling. In short, worst lunch partner ever. But it did make me wonder whether I really looked bad eating while nursing a toothache. They won, although I think unintentionally. I would have gone straight home and cried like a baby for the second time in a week for the probably unintentional dissing, if not for the fact that I wasn’t feeling as poorly and I really wanted that lunch.
So I’ve learnt a few things from this experience. Firstly, always make sure your employment health benefits cover your dental care. My current employer doesn’t and when signing up I thought “Meh, whatever” and now I’m paying for it through the teeth, just two months after signing up. Secondly, save up your money for emergencies. There’s nothing as uncool as being a full-fledged adult who can’t pay your own hospital bills, and having to ask your parents to do it, especially if you have a father who’s perpetually disappointed at your life choices as mine is. Finally, if you have an operation/illness/condition, don’t go around explaining it in full detail to everybody and their mother. You’ll look like an attention-seeking, whiny bitch. Oh, and if you have to go see a dentist, try and get older-looking dentists to attend to you (yeah whatever, I'm bad at coming up with lists). They are more experienced. And by the way, I'm completely healed already, just went to get the stitches removed this morning. Snip snip, and off I went on my merry way. Hospital Jeli; the doctor was experienced, the treatment brief, although the wait was a bit long. Will go there (when sick) again 9/10.