Monday, July 27, 2009

Root canal

I’m afraid of the dentist, it’s not a secret. The dentist usually pokes around my mouth with sharp instruments and drills something eerily near my tongue... Just thinking about it is enough to make me cry which is why I avoid going to the dentist. And when I have to go to the dentist, I cry. A lot.
Saturday my teeth started hurting and at lunch the toothache was accompanied by a strong headache. So I took some painkillers and soon the pain magically disappeared. Later that night sadly the pain came back, but Sunday morning everything felt fine and I was happy the problem wasn’t really a problem. Denial was wonderful, until the pain came back even fiercer than the day before. I didn’t want to waste my Dutch painkillers on a day off, but soon I couldn’t stand the pain anymore so I succumbed. Life was good again, until the pain came back in the evening and no amount of painkillers seemed to help anymore.
Even though my mother, my grandmother and boyfriend all urged me to go to the dentist, I told myself the problem would be gone in the morning, somehow... Besides I knew I had a full day of training at the head office on Monday, and then a full work week right after that, so who has time to go to a dentist? Not me. But after a night of crying (from excruciating pain and dentist anxiety) and hardly any sleep, even I was convinced that going to the dentist would be good idea.
We biked around Tsukamoto and dentist number 4 had a spot open for me to get some emergency treatment. As soon as I saw a dentist chair and a bunch of pointy tools I started to panic again. The dentist, his two assistants and Yasu had a hard time convincing me to lay down in the chair and open my mouth.
They were so patient, with my sitting back up again demanding Yasu to translate what the dentist just told him or what I was telling him, with my crying, with my teaching the dentist a hand signal so I could make him stop whatever he was doing, with my iPod earphones which the dentist ended up putting into my ears himself (!), and with my constant requests for anesthetics being afraid of more pain.
Turned out I had one of the most painful dental problems: a dead nerve and an emergency root canal was needed, but they wisely didn’t tell me about the root canal until it was over, they just told me they were going to use a drill and it wasn’t going to hurt because of the already-dead nerve. This dentist used a blue plastic flap to protect my tongue and mouth from drills and flying tooth debris. Which actually made things a lot better, because my biggest worry is always that the dentist will drill into my tongue.
The dentist relieved the pressure in or on my teeth, drilled around in my tooth filled it with some temporary red stuff, and told me to come back for a repeat root canal next week. And then three more times to replace the tooth with a crown, which fortunately is ten times cheaper than getting a crown at home. So that’s the silver lining, I guess.
After the treatment the pain reached its peak, it was so unbearable I almost passed out on the train to the head office. Still I was happy because I had gotten help, from a dentist no less, how brave am I?! And after the prescribed painkillers started working a long while later I knew I would survive this dental tragedy.
In my head all dentists are drill-carrying-sadists, but I actually like this dentist, he’s funny, patient and very kind. I have to return four more times and I don’t feel too scared about that prospect. Still, I’m pretty sure I’ll cry again, but Yasu is sure I’ll keep it dry, next week.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


On my birthday in 1999, we traveled to France to see a total solar eclipse, armed with our special protective glasses, we waited staring up the sky, but all we saw were clouds. It got very dark for a few minutes, but we never saw the eclipse let alone the supposedly beautiful corona. That was such a big disappointment for all of us. Then one of my students tells me there’s about to be a solar eclipse here in Japan, not a total eclipse in Osaka, but an 80% partial one. That was last night, and that eclipse is visible right as I type this. Apparently it’s the longest solar eclipse of the 21st century, but of course it’s cloudy again...
Still, I just had to try and see it so I biked around in the neighborhood to find an open spot to gaze up in the sky. Found some people taking pictures of the sky near the driving school grounds, looked up and saw the partial eclipse! You’re not supposed to look at the eclipse without protective glasses, or take photos without a special filter, but of course I had none of these. But the eclipse was hiding behind a thin curtain of clouds, which actually made the sickle shaped sun visible and kind of photographable (see the photo on the right of today’s eclipse). A few minutes later the clouds shifted and the eclipse came into clear view turning it into a blinding fireball. So I guess during this eclipse the clouds were a good thing.