Nuala McCann: Toothache troubles

Nuala's ailments continue this week as she contemplates a visit to her dentist for the removal of a sore tooth

I'M sleepwalking through my own horrible history, these past few weeks. Nothing major, but more bits are flopping over, falling off and faltering.

It goes with the vintage.

I'm well past the infant stage, but I'm still mewling and puking over petty inconveniences.

"It's my tooth," I moan, nursing my jaw.

If I lived on a page in the Beano, I'd have a big spotted handkerchief wrapped around my head. Hell, a big handkerchief would be grand – it would announce my affliction to the world.

On the other hand, I could just hobble about, clutching my jaw and ringing a bell.

"What's that?," says my other half. He's joking that he can't hear me.

Needless to say, that joke has worn thin. I SAID, NEEDLESS... oh never mind.

My ear was last week's problem – catch up, would you?!

He can hear the grass grow, he can tell what the folk next door are watching on television.

"Coronation Street," he'll sigh, or "She's had a bad cold all week."


Now he's joking at my lack of hearing and my current dental drama.

Last week, it was my ear, this week it is my tooth.

If anyone wants a 'scores on the doors' for surgeries and hospitals, then I'm your woman.

Want to know who has the best machine coffee, who provides the best reading material, all you ever wanted to learn about worms, nits and personal emergency alarms for the elderly?

It makes you nostalgic for the old copies of the Reader's Digest and the features I devoured on the toilet of my youth: 'I am John's kidney' and 'I am Mary's ovary.'

In the past few weeks, I have discovered a doctor's waiting room where you can get a free blood pressure reading.

I put my hand in the cuff and breathed deeply, only for our boy to startle me – just for a laugh. That caused my blood pressure to rise sharply and the print-out to record a sudden peak the size of Ben Nevis.

Either that, or I'm in trouble. I haven't forgiven our boy yet.

Ah yes, I also know where the kindest reception staff dwell in the surgeries.

And luckily I have a gem of dentist. I have followed her through her career – moved surgeries just to get her, driven the length of the city and even stuck to the six monthly repeat appointments because she is wonderful.

I have also warned her that she must never ever retire – or at least not until I kick the bucket or all my teeth fall out. But she has done everything to ensure they do not fall out.

Dentists always got a bad name in bygone days – they went by the nicknames of butchers and demons of the town.

It was a world where it somehow seemed preferable to spend a week nursing your jaw and dabbing on bottle-loads of oil of cloves, rather than climb on to the big black chair and open wide.

Our local dental clinic was run by a dentist who did fillings without injections. Happy days!

At about eight years old, I needed six teeth out at once – I hang my head. I got a little black rubber thing for the gas and all I recall is the mouth full of blood afterwards.

The strange craters in my gum were too much for my poor tongue that kept wandering into them.

The tongue, it is said, always returns to the sore tooth. Mine had six of them.

But extraction was 10 times better than the dreaded drill.

How times have changed. How our smiles have changed. Our boy has hit 20 with just one filling ever ever – I want to shout it from the roof tops.

I wish I could say the same. My other half has good strong teeth – his only problem is that he is wearing them out by brushing them too often.

But me? I come from a family of poor teeth. And every lemon bon-bon has a price tag on my gums.

This week it was the dreaded root canal.

The very name makes me shudder. And the torture is that you have to pay for it too.

But next week, things will be better. Next week, normal service will resume.

I shall get on my knees and thank God I'm on my feet and that my tooth rests happy in its root canal – worthy of star rating in the human biology section of the old Reader's Digest.

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