On Flares And Fillings

I started today with one of those mornings. You know, those days when the pain doesn’t even wait for you to wake up before making its presence known. (Sort of like an eager kid at 5:00am on Christmas morning, wondering if it’s time to wake the parents.) Other than the extreme pain, there wasn’t much that could be considered unusual about this beginning to my day. (Come to think of it, there’s wasn’t much that could be considered unusual about the extreme pain.) Just another day in the life of any Rheumatoid Arthritis superhero…

Except for one thing: I was scheduled to go to the dentist at 10:00am, in order to replace a filling the fell out last week (resulting in extreme sensitivity to anything hot or cold.) My first thought was how could I possible undergo such a procedure, especially on such a flaretastic day like this one. And then, suddenly, my inner-negotiator appeared (remind me to ask for credentials next time)…and offered up this suggestion: But what better day is there to go to the dentist? You’re already in such considerable pain, that you’ll barely even notice the additional pain! (Hang with me, please…after all, I’ve never claimed that I always think rationally when I’m in the middle of a flare!)

So I decided not to cancel my appointment.

And now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can now see that things turned out exactly as I should have expected (had I thought about things a little more carefully, of course.)

The peak of my flare coincided (perfectly, I must say; it could not have been better planned) with the exact moment when they clipped on my bib and reclined the chair into a horizontal position. (On the plus side, at least I was now laying down…now all I had to do was pretend that I was back in bed, where I should be!) I told myself that this was my last opportunity to call if off. I fast-forwarded a few seconds into the future, and envisioned myself trying to explain to the roomful of people (in addition to the dentist, there were actually four assistants!) that raising the white flag had nothing to do with nervousness, and had everything to do with the fact that my invisible illness was flaring…but I could already see the incredulous looks on their faces.

So instead, I bit the bullet, and told myself that the absolute worst would soon be over (and I’m still not sure if I was referring to my flare, or to my filling.) I took a deep breath, revved up the iPod, and started to relax. Less than a minute later, the gave me an injection of dental anesthesia on the right side of my mouth. Within a few seconds, everything located within an imaginary golf-ball sized sphere around my tooth was numb. I couldn’t feel a thing.

And as they started working on my tooth, I suddenly felt better…because right at that moment, I started to imagine how awesome it would be to get a corresponding shot of anesthesia in each and every one of my joints. (Once again, please refer to my disclaimer at the end of the second paragraph.) I so much wanted this crazy vision to really be true, that in a weird sort of way I could actually sense tiny spheres on each of my joints, taking away the pain.

Here I was, getting my tooth drilled in the middle of a flare, and I was (somewhat surprisingly) okay. I wasn’t trying to be a hero, and I wasn’t trying to prove how strong I was…I just wanted to get it over with. I think that sometimes, when flares become so frequent, it can actually be more of a challenge to schedule activities around them, as opposed to just moving forward as planned. (Haha, I love how I’m still trying to rationalize the decisions I made this morning!)

And there you have it: the somewhat silly, but true, story of how I got a filling while in the midst of a major flare.

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

5 Comments
5 comments
  1. Deb aka murphthesurf says:

    I have to admit that I have dental phobia but fortunately for me I have found the most compassionate dentist that works with people like me. I laughed when I was reading your post but not because of the silliness of thinking that one can endure additional pain whilst in pain but because I did this exact thing but for a root canal. In my case I went because I figured my mind WOULD focus on my ra pain instead of the dental procedure. For me it worked OK. Would I do it again…no. But at the time it made perfect sense. So I do get your reasoning. I wonder if we raers begin to have a flawed sense of reasoning after awhile :-)

  2. joan says:

    I think you were a hero to keep the appointment and get done what needed to be done. It isn’t easy, and with RA it becomes heroic to simply take care of ourselves. =)

  3. SKRDad says:

    Sounds like perfectly sound reasoning to me. Why waste a day when you feel good getting your teeth drilled? Makes sense to me to use a day when you are already miserable to do it… Then again, maybe I’m just twisted that way. Some kind of masochist? Be well, RA Guy…

  4. Tess says:

    Way to go RA Guy!! Because of the Sjogrens I require a lot of dental work and my dentist and her assistants are now well versed in RA and autoimmune mainly because of their curiosity of my list of meds. Shh don’t tell anyone but they gave me some of that stuff they put on your gums before they give you a shot.. they just love to put that all through my mouth when i go in to have work down with mouth sores and they don’t want to cause me more discomfort. They even supply a bone pillow for my neck and one for under my knees and they mother the heck out of me.

    So I applaud you for going during a flare because it is one of the toughest things to do especially with your mouth it is like the entry to our entire bodies. Next time see if they have the nitrisoxide to put you in la la land..now that’s fun during a flare!!!

    Be Well
    Tess

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