We have lots of adventure, and most of the time it’s enjoyable. Of course, not all adventures are fun. Like the time I spent the end of an already crappy birthday in an emergency room in Australia.
While in Honduras, I had the adventure of seeing a local dentist. She turned out to be quite the hack, and I was left with just half of a tooth above the gum line. She recommended I go to the mainland and see an endodontist saying that I wouldn’t last more than a month without problems from the tooth.
Well, since the tooth didn’t have any major problems until she got a hold of it, I decided to wait. And for over 2 years I’ve had no problem from that tooth. In the back of my mind I knew I should do something about it. I know that decay in a tooth can bring nasty stuff to the heart, but, well I’m not a fan of going to the dentist.
Like I’m alone in that, right?
I considered getting it taken care of while in SE Asia. They have good dentistry and are inexpensive. I had already decided to have it extracted since the decay was below the gum line which I know really drops the potential for success of a root canal.
And I’ve seen and heard enough about root canals to know that just wasn’t going to be the road I went down.
Again I considered it in Czech, but it wasn’t bothering me. So why mess with what isn’t broken, right? OK, fine. Yes, I was just too chicken to get it done.
Knowing that we would soon be back in Mexico, I decided I’d get it addressed then. Nothing like putting off stuff we really don’t want to do.
But the tooth had a different plan.
A few days ago it began hurting. I hoped it would magically stop and wait until we were in Mexico. The UK isn’t exactly known for being inexpensive after all. But I had no such luck. The next day the pain came on with a fury, and I began phoning dentists.
“Sorry, but if you aren’t in the NHS (the national health service), we can’t see you.” Do you know an office who will take me? “Try the Internet.”
Oh so helpful! I did try the Internet, but they don’t exactly advertise “If you don’t have the NHS, you’re still welcome here!”
One office suggested I phone 111, which is the NHS help line. They asked a bunch of questions before giving me a number for an emergency dentist. Finally, I was going to get some help!
At least that’s what I thought until I rang them. “They don’t start referrals until half past 6.” Great. I had another 4-1/2 hours to go before I could find out if I could get in somewhere. I decided to call other dentists. I finally found a few who would see me as a new patient, but not until the next day.
Most of the staff I spoke with were completely apathetic. One, however, really went out of her way to try to get me in. We set up an appointment for the first thing in the morning. If I was lucky enough to get in elsewhere, I could just leave them a voicemail.
When half past 6 came, I phoned the emergency line. And no one answered. It would take 20 minutes before someone finally picked up. Only to tell me they had nothing for me until the morning. It was hard to not be surly at this point.
The appointment at the helpful place (St. Saviourgate Dental Practice) was before the buses started running. The idea of driving in an unfamiliar town while doped up on pain meds didn’t appeal to me. Thankfully, I was able to get a lovely neighbor to drive me into town on his way to the rail station.
So what was the UK dentist like? Well, when I got there they once again apologized they couldn’t see me the day before. I was escorted to a very comfortable lounge and offered a tea or coffee while I waited. The dentist introduced himself by his first name and sat down to hear my story.
The x-ray revealed what I had already figured out—I had an abscess. That always make numbing a tooth challenging. He wasn’t deterred, though. He did a thorough blocking of nerves, and when I was mostly numb, he injected around and inside the tooth. He was so good that I didn’t even realize the extraction was completed until he told me so. I hadn’t felt a thing other than slight pressure. PHEW!
I made sure to tell him how good the experience was. If only they were all like him!
They don’t seem to medicate for pain as much as we do in the States, though. I was told to take Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain, and in the US we always gave our extraction patients something with codeine or such. Needless to say, ibuprofen wasn’t enough for the postoperative pain, but the next day things were feeling a lot better.
How much did it cost? It came out to $232 USD. Ouch! But the care was excellent, and since it was an emergency visit for a new patient I can’t complain too much.
The biggest part of the adventure was just finding someone who would see me! I hadn’t expected to need hours of phone calls to find an office that would take me. My Brit friends said, “There’s a reason we have a reputation for having bad teeth.”
Have you had a health adventure while traveling? How did it go?