Be warned, I am not at all a happy bunny. You may recall that back in August, I had to have a tooth refilled after the old filling had cracked. Well, for weeks and weeks afterwards it was nothing but trouble, sensitive, painful and ultimately the cause of some neuralgia. And then it finally seemed to settle down. Until last Wednesday, when the pain started up again. I thought to myself, ha, it’s that nuisance neuralgia, I shall carry on as normal and not deign to pay it attention. Only by Thursday evening, it was still hurting and Mister Litlove was heading off to spend the night in London for the purposes of work. I never sleep well when he’s away and when you add toothache to the mix, the result was atrocious. I fought my way out of my first nightmare (trying to push a man out of my house who had burst in demanding money) only to see the clock read 12.15. Oh, it was a long, long night.
So on Friday morning I fixed up an emergency appointment at the dentist. I find the dentist scary, and was none too happy having to go there when I felt very tired and anxious. The dentist I go to is a brother and sister combination. The sister had put the new filling in, and it was the brother I saw. The tests he carried out were a bit inconclusive. He didn’t like the look of the tooth and feared it was fractured underneath the new filling. He felt it was likely I’d end up having to have root canal or an extraction. On the x-ray there was a place where he feared he saw an infection beginning. But on the other hand, he liked to be optimistic! He packed me off with antibiotics in case my face swelled up like a balloon (in which case root canal was a definite), and advice to eat soft food, do jaw exercises and massage the sides of my head.
Funnily enough, by this point my tooth had stopped hurting altogether and for the rest of that day and Saturday it was numb. This was a relief, as I felt pretty dreadful, that old combination of white nights, anxiety, pain and the collapse when it’s over meaning that I lay around like I’d had a swift blow to the head. My face was a little bit swollen, although not enough to make the dentist think I certainly had an infection, and by Sunday the swelling was going down, but feeling was returning. It hurt to talk, smile, laugh and yawn. By today I can talk a bit easier, there’s no swelling, but part of my face is very tender indeed. I’m not sure where this is going but I’m not sure I like it; what’s most upsetting to me is being very confused as to what the problem actually is. Why should the tooth fracture when I’ve just had a new filling? Will this be a problem until I finally get root canal or an extraction (and the rest of it)?
The thing is, this sort of feels like the last straw. First my work at the university finished in an unpleasant way that brought me a lot of anxiety, and now I’m trying to get used to my son having left home. I’m fine with my son going – he was so ready for it. It’s much more about adjusting to the end of a full-time mothering role for me. Two huge parts of my life have recently gone, and they were things I was quite good at, compared to what I’m left with which is all the things I’m not good at.
I realised as well that for both of them, I had made an intellectual decision about the sort of person I needed to be, and became it. I felt that to be a good mother, I’d need to be a bit to the left of my usual self, a bit more robust, a lot less sensitive, with more patience. Something similar occurred at work where I had a distinct professional persona. I was talking this over with my reiki practitioner a few weeks ago, and she said ‘It’s funny how anxiety goes hand in hand with the dissolution of a persona. It leaves you feeling very exposed and vulnerable, very unsure of yourself.’
And then writing this year has been a bit of a disaster. I began 2013 working regularly for two journals. One closed almost immediately and the other, well, I’m not even allowed to talk about it but take it from me, it was a dreadful experience. Then this course has been… well, it’s fine, really, it’s fine and I’m sure I will probably have learned a great deal. But I think that there are times when it’s necessary to look back over your life and times when it’s best to stare resolutely forward, and the personal narrative aspect of the course has been a bit of a struggle. I’ve written about the end of my job and chronic fatigue, neither exactly cheery topics, though I did make the first as positive as I could (which was good in personal terms, but not personal narrative terms – more angst was required). I can’t imagine what I could write about next, even if I felt like it.
So here we are, late October, the clocks have just gone back and it’s the time of year I loathe, I don’t know quite who I am or what I’m doing with myself, I was already anxious and my immediate prospects are persistent toothache and/or root canal work. You may see my problem. And yes, I have a lovely husband, and a delightful place to live and we’re not in the workhouse yet, all things I am very grateful for. I really am grateful for them, and goodness knows my situation could be worse. If only I weren’t such a coward about dental work. It’s probably just that spectre looming over me that’s making me feel so low. Thank you for the opportunity to moan. Hopefully I’ll perk up very soon.