Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Emergency Adventure

Someone wrote me a message on IM: itz bcum ovr.
And I laughed really hard.

I thought to myself that life was not exciting enough and decided to develop a gum-ache. A graduate student getting a gum-ache in America is like AIDS in Africa. It can't be cured. So this gum-ache started last Wednesday and I started icing it to get sleep at night. It was bang in the front, my bunny teeth getting chattery from all the ice.
Graduate students get indecent dental coverage and dental appointments with the doctors who participate in the esoteric program have to be made a month in advance. So I decided to go on our desi Combiflam. Then on Friday, I decided it was about time I did something (the ice was giving me cold sores) and I went to the Stony Brook Infirmary. What an appropriate name. And they have just one standard prescription - antibiotics and Ibuprofen. Penicillin and Ibuprofen. Erythromycin and Ibuprofen. Thiscin and Ibuprofen. Thatcin and Ibuprofen. So the diagnosis that Dr.Tuckerman gave me was that I was suffering from Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums and some salt soaks, antibiotics and ibuprofen can take care of it.
So I paid 15$ for the medicines and went my merry way hoping I'll be fine by Monday. Monday was a special monday because I was due to be presenting in lab meeting. Saturday came and the swelling started. By Saturday night I looked like I was officially on the rugby team- mouth swelling, slurred speech et al. I decided to go into lab thrice and retreated to my room. Sunday was the only day that now separated me from the overbearing meeting. So Sunday morning, I popped 4 Ibuprofens, made an icepack and drove to the lab (READ: insane 45 minute ordeal). Once in the lab, I decided to warm up before I "focus" and opened up the customary Gtalk program. A few chats later, the offending gum begun to act up again. I ignored it and had lunch. After lunch and the antibiotics that I was still investing hope in, the pain did not go away. My usual 4 Ibus didn't help either. I had made about 3 slides (Title, Blank, Thank you) and had about 100% of it left.
So I did the worst ever thing a person in an emergency can do - I went to the emergency room. The ER, is anything but emergency. A relaxed atmosphere with kids screaming, rolling on the floor, America's funniest videos playing on the lounge TV. It was almost like being at home on a sunday evening.

"Please take your badge and wait in the line for the emergency dentist."

I discovered that there was just one woman in the line before me and she was in excruciating pain so I dropped plans of jumping the line before her. After 2 agonizing hours, the dentist finally found time to see me. A couple of X-rays and weird tooth examinations later, it was confirmed that I had a necrosed nerve that was infected - hence the swelling. She suggested root canal treatment (My God has absolutely no intention of making this easy on me) and also for immediate relief said I should get the swelling punctured, drain the pus and go on stronger antibiotics. I said ok.
I've experienced a lot of different kind of pains. Bicycle fall downs. Skidding in the sewer. Punched in the face. Menstrual cramps. Wrong vein picked for blood donation. My repertoire is somewhat impressive. But the pain of getting an injection in your gums is the mother of them all. Ironically, the injection itself is local anesthesia but does nothing to alleviate the shivers you get after that injection. Local anesthesia and weird senselessness in place, the kind dentist (who was fair and warned me that all this would hurt) did what she had to do and I got out of the place after having given the hospital my insurance details.
(I am yet to find out if my ER visits are covered. Else I am not only screwed, I am also third degree burned. I am yet to find a dentist to do the root canal treatment.)
What I did do though was finish my PowerPoint slides ten minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start. I also had an exam on Wednesday for my (supercool) Imaging course. I decided that I must rest on Tuesday and cram on the said Wednesday for the exam. Of course this was insufficient preparation and the exam was anyway predestined to be ruined by reckless mistakes.
I am not going to tempt fate by saying nothing else can possibly go wrong (Three unpaid parking tickets begging to be appealed, the car making weird noises, the landlord wanting us to declare bankruptcy are some others I've to deal with right now). But I think I am ready to call this a week.

Screw you guys, I'm going home.

Color: Blue
Song: Alaska is a microcosm of America


Anonymous said...

Generally, I dont read long personal rant posts as they are genuinely boring.. most of the times. But, I enjoyed reading your funny and well written post...
We guys in Canada always complain about long waiting times for Doctor appointments as health care is provided by the state here..meaning free..but, we say that since there are no free lunches in this world, those freebies come with a price of long waiting times and other crap. And, in US, I assumed earlier, it's much better as you pay from your pocket..either directly or through your employer. But, after hearing lot of stories from my brother and doctor friend, both of whom are in US, I am not anymore much sure of US having better health care system than Canada. Your story again confirms it. OMG..I wrote such a long comment myself.

Shri said...

You forgot to thank me for goading you to go to ER.

Krithika said...

"u" sti"l" dint explain abt hw "bcum" became a funny word..

Krithika said...

Hey u havent explained hw "bcum" became a hilarious word for u!!!

Deepu Vasudevan said...


I think nothing beats the 20 Rs doctor in India. The diagnosis is mostly right and the doctor is mostly available.


I am still undecided on whether the pain was worth it.


Someday, you will understand. It is not for me to break that pot of water.

Shri said...

Didn't the 20 Rs doctor cause this in the first place?

Talking about water, must remind to be careful when climbing out of water tanks. :-p

Deepu Vasudevan said...


No, he didn't. The 20 Rs doctor knows his stuff.
Must be careful when climbing out of water tanks that are lined with algae. :D

q said...

another week in the graduate student's dairy!

mother of all pains?
not yet i guess.. if you know what i mean :)

hope you are okay now!

Deepu Vasudevan said...


I know what you mean. But seriously, an injection in the gums definitely beats it.
At least, it would be a close call. :P

Sandeep said...

q was me :D

Sneha said...

it s fun reading your blog entry. am sure you didnt feel the same before you wrote it :| empathize!!

Vinod R Iyer said...

Oh ya .. You are in for a treat.. RCT ..err Root Canal treatment can be painful ! I had 2. One in which the cavity was inside the nerve and the dentist had to poke it.. saw heaven and hell together ..

It is high time they discovered something to dissolve all these things without having to drill down all the way .. ATB with the RCT :)

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing so hard that my gums are aching now! :D

Deepu Vasudevan said...

What is with the anonymity? :P

The anesthesia really helps. And the pain medications are a blessing.

Brr... thank you for the encouragement. I am trying to postpone the inevitable "RCT". But its catching up with me quite fast - I've a toothache again.

Macha, use listerine and keep it away. I wouldn't want even *you* to be in such pain.

Sandeep said...

no longer anon isn't it? :P

Prarthana Ravishankar said...

Appah!! That must've been torture...
I cribbed for days together when the orthodontist tightened my braces... God knows what I'll do if I were to get a RCT...
I remember how I laughed at my appa when he'd got one of his wisdom teeth extracted just for the fact that I thought his swollen jaw made him look like Hanuman...
God... Please don't punish me for this!

Arvind Suresh said...

As a former RCT treatment alumnus I can genuinely assure you that your experience will be painful but worth it. Because this pain will be nothing in comparison to what will happen if you dont get it treated. And oh im quite the veteran at managing dental pain. 4 fillings. 2 root canals. Permanent and braces for 2 years, 3 extractions including one wisdom tooth. So contact me for any further details. I can give you a minute by minute account :P (Puns on my wisdom I have heard many. Try them you shall not - Yoda style)

Jagjit said...

I am going to get RCT myself in a few days. But thank God, my dental problem is not clubbed with the surrounding problems you stated here. The dentist is at a walking distance and he charging me only 2000 bucks. But I just saw an RCT treatment animation video: it pains just to see it happening...Wish you a painless surgery :-) I am new to you blog, and hope to come here often...

Anonymous said...

You seem to have disappeared after this post! Happy New Year!

flyingred said...

I know this comment is too late... But oh my dear... I really can't imagine how much trouble you were in and how much painful things you have experienced.... Hope time healed everything.

Kruz said...

enga bossu aalaye kaanam?