Healing Pain

Disclaimer: this post is not necessarily for the squeamish.  Although it's nowhere near as gross as you think it's going to be because of this disclaimer.   

This morning I went to the dentist for what was supposed to be a routine procedure.  During the cleaning I had done last week, the dentist informed me that a filling had broken and needed to be replaced.  No sweat.

Except that today, when he removed the filling, he discovered something else -- a rotting root.  Yummy.  So I had a choice: root canal or tooth extraction.  Since the tooth in question has been a problem for quite some time and already had a big hole in it from the deep cavity that had caused said problems, the choice seemed simple.

I chose the extraction.

Now, let me just say that I do not deal well with getting dental work done.  Even a simple cleaning gets my blood racing (the not-fun kind of blood racing).  Getting cavities fixed fills me with dread for days previous to the appointment, so getting a tooth removed?  Not fun.

Really not fun.

Add to that the fact that my tooth roots are apparently very long.  Abnormally long, even.  Close to twice as long as the average.  Which means that the dentist had to work extra long and hard to get my bad tooth out.

Because dental visits set me near to panicking, I deal the only way I know how -- deep breathing, and causing myself additional pain on another part of my body.  What that means is that I dig my fingernails into the back of one hand.  For the entire visit.

Today's visit was extremely long, consisting of drilling, cutting, prying, digging, and more than four shots of anesthetic.  Which means that by the time I left the office an hour later, the backs of my hands looked like this:


Actually, that's what my hands looked like two hours after the appointment was over.  So you can imagine how bad they were earlier.

So now I'm sitting on my couch with an oozing, gaping wound in my mouth and a massive headache that the painkiller is only just holding back.  Meaning: I don't feel great.


I am so glad that I'm sitting here feeling not-great because it means that instead of worrying and fussing over a sensitive tooth and imagining the worst, I finally sucked it up and did the right thing.  Instead of trying to laugh my discomfort away, I got help.  And soon, by the grace of God and through the amazing healing power of the human body, hopefully I will be able to tell you that my mouth is fully restored to health.

Because I didn't just ignore the problem.  Because I trusted my body's signals.  The pain I'm feeling now is healing pain.

This makes me think of eating disorder recovery.  Because taking the steps to get to recovery is hard, and sometimes those steps are scary and uncomfortable or even painful.  But in the end, when you're healthy and renewed in mind and body, you can say without a doubt that the pain was worth it.  It was the kind of pain that heals.

I'm pretty sure that my current pain and earlier fear and discomfort were worth it.  Pretty darn sure.  (Although I be so grateful if you'd pray that there are no further complications! :D )

"Pushed to the wall, I called to God; from the wide open spaces, he answered. God's now at my side and I'm not afraid."~ Psalm 118:5

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