Sea Story Thursday, where I tell you a Navy related Story, just because.
How Sea Story Thursday was born:
My Uncle & Dad. That’s the plain and simple reason. While on leave they both kept bringing up stories I had told them over the past few years at sea. My Uncle told me that he loved to tell my stories to anyone who would listen. hmmmm… I’ve got plenty more where that came from, maybe I’ll make it a weekly rendition. Done!
Ugh. Out at sea onboard the ship and the lower back right tooth was throbbing with pain again, I finally will admit that it was time I had it checked out. The problem… we were underway. Luckily, as opposed to my first ship there was a dentist onboard and an X-ray machine, very high tech. Having had long standing problems with my teeth, it took from kindergarden to the 9th grade to get them where they are today, I have this thing about dentists. I’ll pretty much ignore any aches and pains I have until they over power me. For teeth, that point pretty much happens when it becomes hard to eat food.
Which is where this constant, throbbing, tooth ache comes in. I called Kelly, a close friend and someone who was in my circle of trust onboard the ship (she’s all the way to the left in the picture below). She readily agreed to see me right away so I went down to medical for a quick examination. Some poking and prodding and one x-ray later I found out I had a pretty sever cavity in the tooth that was giving me problems and the only way to fix it would be root canal.
What. Horrible. Luck.
Kelly told me that she could try to prepare my tooth for the root canal in question but there was some things she didn’t have on board to help with the problem and I would have to wait until we got to land. We weren’t scheduled to pull in for 2 weeks! 2 weeks of the persistent pain was hard but doable so I decided to suck it up, a lot like putting salt on the wound when you’re a kid.
She tried to numb me with lidocane but I proved to be a more stubborn patient and no matter how many shots she gave me I could. still. feel. everything. It was completely miserable. She couldn’t do anything to lessen the pain until she could get me to a medical facility.
My saving grace came a couple of days later.
News came out that we would be pulling into Okinawa early to do our offload of marines and their equipment. Now I only had to wait 2 days to be seen. whew!
Kelly called me and told me she was going to try her best to make an appointment the same day we pulled in but there was just one catch. We wouldn’t be pier side until late afternoon. Even if we left as soon as we arrived we wouldn’t be able to make it to the dental clinic until 6pm and they might not have anyone available that late. I crossed my fingers for them to have someone there. The pain was starting to be unbearable.
She called me back 10 minutes later and told me that they had called their root canal specialist and she would be able to meet us at the clinic. For the first time EVER while being stationed onboard a ship, I was one of the first people off, as soon as they craned over the brow (AKA gangway). With ice on my face and a throbbing on the right side of my mouth that no regular drug could cure, we sped off in the direction of Camp Foster and the hope of stopping this pain for good.
Upon arrival this is what I remember most and probably the reason I chose to recount this story. There was nobody there. It was like the Halloween movie when she’s running down all of the halls in the hospital and Michael Meyers is just walking calmly behind her, not another soul in sight.
The dentist waiting had taken time out of her evening to help me and I couldn’t thank her enough. They led me down an aisle of dental compartments, all of them open, no lights on. At the end of the row we came to the lighted area and the chair I would be in.
I can’t really say how long I was in that chair but what I can tell you is that the term blinded with pain is a real thing. After 6 shots it was apparent that I was going to feel pain through the whole procedure. On the 6th shot I actually suffered from a panic attack or adrenaline rush, I prefer the latter term.
The expert on root canals in Okinawa also decided that I was going to be no easy patient. Kelly, the dentist from my ship, stayed with me through the whole procedure, bless her heart. This was going to be miserable. Wanna know how they finally numbed me?
Well I don’t know the name of the procedure because I am no dentist, but basically they took a small plastic piece (think of the same thing they put into your arm so they can give you continuous IV’s) and literally tapped it into the back of my jaw. Then they administered the lidocane straight through my bones through the plastic piece. Apparently this procedure happens very rarely and it makes your jaw very sore after the fact.
The pain dulled long enough for her to complete the root canal but when I was being ushered out to pick up my prescription, the pain came back full force like I was hit with a high speed train. She ended up having to give me 2 more shots and 2 Vicodin just so I could make it out to the car.
We stopped on the way back to the ship to get some food, none of which I could eat. I was so miserable, trying my hardest not to let the pain show but it was so bad tears kept slipping out of my eyes. Not even 2 Vicodin was helping! Needless to say the next 5 day was a huge blur for me. Kelly checked on me daily and my tooth was good and fully dead but it didn’t die with out a very good fight, irritating everything in the surrounding area.
And why have I chosen now to tell you the story?
Because this week, just about a year since that horrible night, my root canal saga has come to an end. They were unable to cap the tooth in Japan because of limited resources so I had to wait till I got to Italy for them to make the cap and finally put that dead tooth to rest preventing it from cracking in half and causing more trouble.
Yesterday when I went for the last installment, LT D my dentist here in Naples asked me my plans for Christmas and I told him I was headed to Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Later when the tech was polishing the cap right before they added cement and placed it into my mouth he told the tech, “Give it a nice gleam, this cap is going all they way to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.” I have an intention to take a picture for him at the top. 🙂
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