The Importance Of Basic Self-Care: An Example

The fact is I’ve been neglecting a particular area of my physical self-care for some time now and the struggle with it has become harder and harder more and more rapidly of late.


Ive touched upon this before…

My less than positive childhood experiences with dentists has left  me with life long anxieties about visiting them Or rather, anxieties about the potential pain and discomfort of the inevitable dental treatment I was always quite likely to require (“Do you have a phobia of the denist?” “No, I have a phobia of the pain the dentist is likely to inflict…!”)

There was a time a few years ago where depression meant that my at home dental care became very sporadic. I had no energy whatsoever. My body and limbs were heavy aching weights. Twice daily brushing became as monumental as climbing Everest.

This time period has passed now but it seems to have caught up with me and for all my recent advocacy of fundamental self-care I’ve been not only negligent but really very very foolish.

A year or so ago I noticed the top left teeth  were agonisingly sensitive to cold. Even on a cold windy day I’d feel it. My mouth felt on fire. I could feel a gap between two teeth and thought they’d shifted position. I did my best to both manage and ignore it.

The first May Bank Holiday arrived and I was woken in the early hours by a terrible tooth pain. I took more ibuprofen than I had up until that point in my life and plodded on. I avoided triggering the pain, I no longer ate on that side. S began to rinse salad vegetable in warm water, I drank room temperature drinks where I could, requested straws for cold ones and took my water tepid.

I agreedto go for a check up on the condition they do nothing other than look and tell me what’s wrong.  I was worried and wanted to know what was going on. Dentist recommended I have a root canal, multiple fillings and my wisdom teeth extracted. “But I don’t have an issue with my wisdom teeth!!” I insisted. “Not now but you’re likely to at some stage” I was told.

Fuck that, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, I decided. And as for the root canal…

”Can I be sedated for that, if I request it?”

“No. But we’ll administer a pain killer so you shouldn’t feel anything”

Yeah right. I recalled the last time I’d had a painkiller injected into my gums, close to the jaw bone. It was more painful than the actual treatment. No way!

The body is capable of fighting off infections by itself, sometimes I reasoned. And carried on about my life which was now punctuated every so often with ibuprofen. Still, it was only occasional. Nothing to be concerned about.

My capacity to ignore a problem, whilst shrinking, is non the less quite large. I buried my head firmly in the sand as I do with so many things!

Then came the night before the night before Christmas. Sitting alone downstairs on the   sofa I felt my tongue get scratched by something sharp and jagged. WTF is that?!?!? I dashed to the mirror to see.

Lo and behold my dentists prediction had come true. About a third of my wisdom tooth was simply no longer there. The rapid deterioration – perfectly healthy to a gaping black crumbling chasm within a few short months – alarmed me greatly! No pain though, I mused. Weird. There ought to be!

It was concerning enough for me to go for another check up. I swear the Angels must have smiled down upon me because the dentist I was reccomended turned out to be the kindest, sweetest, most understanding and gentle I could have ever dreamt of!!! Tentative to the point I had to insist he tell me how I really ought to proceed, inspite of my anxieties. Extremely accommodating, he fully informed me of all my options though he had to confess it would not be safe to knock me out  and complete all of the treatments in one fell swoop, like I wanted!

I booked a root canal with him.

I didn’t go

Suddenly the pain worsened become more constant and less responsive to ibuprofen, which I had begun to take in steadily larger doses and steadily more often much to my concern. Painkillers are not meant to be taken for prolonged periods. I began to fret what damage it might be doing to my insides. This time, it was the broken wisdom tooth causing me pain.

I creeped back to my dentist with my tail between my legs. No fear, it turned  he was terribly understanding and gave me sweet sweet relief in the form of antibiotics! Still though I was adamant I needed the strongest sedation possible, which couldn’t be done with at that surgery.

S: “Do you really need it? Wouldn’t it be better to get it over and done with? Look how much pain you’re in!”

I would not be budged

I was referred to a clinic on the other side of the city. When I got there, I was immediately ill at ease. It was a glaring harsh white clinical box of chaos and noise. It wasn’t kept. I doubted if it was clean. They were over stretched and under budgeted, that much was evident.  As I waited with my forms and papers, the idea of undergoing any kind of surgery no matter how minor in this place became more and more anxiety inducing. And then, The last straw! A fight broke out between a dentist and a chaperone and I was gone. I wasn’t being treated in that place

(Self-Care 101: Dont Tolerate Shitty Attitudes) 

So now I’m waiting for another referral

The pain has spread and become more heightened. As per the norm it flares up at night; sleeping though the night is increasingly difficult as tooth pain worsens when you lie down.  Just this morning I was awake and up at 4am. Both the root canal side and the wisdom tooth side are causing discomfort now.

Ive been taking large doses of ibuprofen on pretty much a daily basis for weeks now. I’m increasingly worried about what this might be doing to my body. Last night,   I made the mistake of Googling the whole thing; not something I usually do because I know it’s unwise but its been dragging in for so long now. All that achieved was a new anxiety about suddenly developing  Sepsis from leaving the infection too long (odds are slim but the problem with Google is that its easy to get sucked into what you’re being told. Hence why fake news is so easily believed) to organ failure and damaged stomach lining from the ibuprofen. NEVER EVER Google physical ailments!!!

As a person with depression, a prolonged battle with the physical (relatively minor ailment but massively painful and draining non the less) makes it harder to battle the mind. I’ve begun to wonder if the increased levels of fatigue I’ve been struggling with of late – despite my mind being on an Up- has been further enhanced by the presence of an infection in my body. It would make sense, but who knows? I should probably stop trying to analyse and find reason for each and every tiny thing

Ive tried to change certain behaviours to help with my mental health of late too,  most noteably my smart phone habits, but that’s gone out the window at the moment because the mind numbing distraction detracts from the physical discomfort

Dental Care is self-care at its most basic level. It’s the serious boring stuff to keep yourself alive and well. This level of self-care is vital for each and every one of us. Literally everyone will feel like crap mentally if we don’t look after our physical selves properly. It should not be ignored and certainly not for prolonged periods

The fact of the matter is I’ve been an idiot. Yes, I was an idiot because of anxieties but I’ve been an idiot non the less

If Id dealt with this when it first became apparent, I wouldn’t  be in as much pain. I wouldn’t be in pain for so long. I wouldn’t have been sat last night fretting vaguely over developing sepsis and the possible damage so much ibuprofen may have caused.

In the last year- but mostly within the last few months- one issue has escalated and affected other areas such as *currently* my ability to have a good nights sleep (which I’ve come to realise is essential to my mental well being) and my ability to eat certain food that are good for us such as certain fruits and vegetables. Not dealing with one aspect of self care has made it increasingly harder to ensure others are maintained

Dont neglect your basic self care folks!

I should have dealt with this a year ago when it first began to kick off – And I sorely wish I had!


Much Love