Tooth Pain… Ouch… A rant…

Hi, so Happy New Year!

I spend it in pain… And am still in pain… Here’s my situation…

On Christmas Eve, around 4pm I started to feel a dull throb from my left lower jaw… after about an hour I realized that the pain was coming from my second to last molar…

I don’t have insurance, (dental or medical) but I am a US Military Veteran and am covered by the VA… It was after hours so I called the nursing care line… They advised me to come up to a hospital that is about 40 miles away to be seen, but that my best bet would be to go to the Bronx VA 40 miles in the other direction if I wanted to try to get a dentist.

My father said it’s probably a dental abscess… He’s had one and it was excruciating… This from a man who’s had 2 heart attacks and one car accident during one, dislocated both shoulders at once on ice walking to the driveway and to top it off, I have personally witnessed him, (when I was a small child) cut his pointer finger off with a table saw, pick the finger up, pick me up with the other hand, and carry me upstairs, put me in my car-seat, and carry my woozy mom to the car, and HE proceeded to drive himself to the hospital… So for him to call this excruciating, I knew it was going to get worse….

I didn’t go to the hospital Christmas eve, instead I took pills to try to ride it out… Christmas Day, Thursday, I went to the Bronx VA Hospital ER and asked if they could page a Dentist, they told me they could not… I was hurting enough that I had been crying at home and my father drove me the 40 miles. I was told by the nursing care line that because it was so far I could go to my local ER, but I knew that they couldn’t do much, and I would have to go through a lot of paperwork for the VA to repay the bill that would leave…

When they said (at the ER) that they couldn’t call a Dentist, they gave me antibiotics and Tylenol 3… I said that I tried them and needed something stronger, this was no joke, I was taking Vicodan and STILL in a lot of pain… I was discharged and returned home… Still in pain…

Friday I hurt so much… The whole time, the only thing that seemed to help was to take cold water and hold it in my mouth… this soothed the area until the water was no longer cold, then it hurt… I couldn’t sleep, I would find myself sitting up in bed, 6:30am woken up by me spilling water all over myself!  Sleep was nodding off, only to be woken by the pain, and the shock of cold water spilling down my chest!

Saturday was fits of crying, and yelling about how unfair life was, how this sucked…  You could imagine…  I was contemplating ramming my forehead into anything to knock myself out from the pain…  My water trick was no longer working…  I had been calling the nursing care line, sometimes belligerent, (and I wish I could call back to apologize… maybe I will…) finally, I was told that if I could hold out until Sunday, it would make more sense to have a Dentist come in on a Sunday DAY rather then a Saturday LATE AT NIGHT…

I got back to the Bronx VA Sunday around 2pm… I asked to speak to the hospitals Nursing Supervisor, and we spoke, he was a nice man he had said that he had this pain before and knew what I was going through…  I informed him that I was concerned that because of the delay of care, I feared that the infection in my tooth had spread to my jaw… He explained the situation of the holiday and said that he felt that if this had happened the day before it did, that he’s sure it wouldn’t have been a problem.  he said he was sorry for me, and told me to go back to the ER and be seen, and come back and inform him of my condition and if I felt that treatment was adequate.  I did and was seen around 3.  I was given a shot of Toradol in my shoulder which hurt for a few minutes, as I was informed it would, and I took a 2 hour nap… when I awoke, I asked to see a Dentist and again was informed that there are no on-call dentists… I was given a prescription for oxycodine and told to report to Dental at 8:30am, that I was not scheduled, but I was as a walk in emergency.

I reported back to the Nursing Supervisor,  asked to be admitted because I was still in pain, he said he could not admit me for dental pain… So I picked up my meds and drove the 40 miles back north…

The next morning I arrived at the Bronx VA around 8:30, went straight to Dental, explained my situation and was immediately seen.  First I got my Dental X-Ray, then I was first seen by the head Oral Surgeon, he looked at the X-Rays and then said that I would be getting a root canal by a Dentist in a few minutes… My Dentist was very nice, I had feared my first Root Canal, but once the pain was knocked out I found myself watching the whole thing in the reflection of her mask…  as a side note, I don’t believe that I have my fathers’ high pain threshold, but I can take some pain, I’ve had a Zygomatic Maxio-Facial fracture in the past… what is that? I pretty much broke my lower eye socket and upper jaw… and all the little sinus bones in that area… not fun, it sucked, but it was NOTHING compared to this! Especially since this was so localised!

When we were done, I was given a prescription for different antibiotics and told to continue with the pain killers… On my way out, I was asked why I waited so long to be seen by Dental, they asked why the ER on both occasions did not call in the On-Call Dentist.  I immediately went to the Patient Representative and explained my situation, she informed me that she would write a memo… A MEMO!!!

The following day, I went to work, took my pills, and completed the day… around 4pm I started to feel pain again… Oh no!  The next morning Wednesday, New Years Eve, I woke up in the same amount of pain I was in the previous Thursday (Christmas day) My Girlfriend asked if this was going to ruin our New Years, like it had ruined Christmas…  I called my father and he told me to call the Dentist back… I did and the dentist told me to come in.

When I got there I was asked to talk to the Dental Chief and explain the whole situation with the ER, and how they had refused to call the Dentist.  It turns out that there were another TWO people with similar problems that were not addressed at the ER by them calling the On-Call Dentist!!!  He apologized and said he was sorry about the past events, but the important thing was to now fix the pain problem.  I was seen by another Dentist this time, and he was very nice and thorough.  During the procedure, my other Dentist came in, as did the Chief and on Oral Surgeon, the Oral Surgeon said that there might be another root that was missed, so with a little deeper digging, there it was!  another root… The Dentist got it, cleaned up and filled the hole, informed me that I needed to see another Dentist afterwards who will clean up inside a bit more and after another visit cap it with a crown…

I thanked him, the other Dentist, the Chief and the Oral Surgeon on the way out, got my new Antibiotics which I was to take a lot of, which I will later find out are the antibiotic of choice for bone infections… Great!

This was Wednesday, New Years Eve… On my way home, About an hour after leaving I was in more pain then I was in when I went in!

New Years Day, Thursday I spend in pain… ‘Nuff said…

Friday I called my father’s Dentist, she had been on Vacation, and was now back… I told her the situation, and the meds I was on, it was then that I was informed that the antibiotics I was on were to treat a bone infection… She said that it was too soon for her to treat me, that she wanted the antibiotics to do their job, and she would see me either Monday or Wednesday, that she would have to go in and clean up further and I would come back a week or two later for her to put a crown and such…

So, here I am… Babbling about my stupid tooth and jaw pain on my blog… Just getting it out…  I am really freaked out about the possibility of this infection being in my jaw, it really hurts, but at least not as much as it did before the initial root canal… but I cannot help but feel wronged that the ER didn’t take my situation seriously enough!

I’m not looking for any sort of payment, or any sort of anything except that something is done to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else!  Dental pain is no joke!


One response to “Tooth Pain… Ouch… A rant…

  1. I’ve had a toothache before that ruined my holidays a few years ago, I know EXACTLY what you went through, it’s a pain (no pun intended)!
    Good luck with it all!

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