Let me start this by apologizing to my boyfriend. I’m sorry I laughed at you when you had to get a root canal last week. True, I was mostly laughing because I was surprised. I’ve never met anyone who brushed their teeth for as long as you do. I have to admit though, that deep down I was secretly very glad it wasn’t me. Unfortunately, Karma knows all secrets!
On Saturday afternoon, mid rummikub match with boyfriend, my jaw started throbbing. It was just plain annoying. On Sunday morning, I was sure that aliens infested my skull and were now trying to change my appearance from the inside. My jaw was insanely sore. Boyfriend braved the rain outside and got me some ibuprofen, which I lived on. I was 99% certain that this alien invasion was due to me clenching and grinding my teeth at night. This past week has been particularly stressful, since boyfriend had his EPIK interview and the outcome would change a whole bunch of things for us.
It wasn’t until this morning, that I realized the Alien invasion theory was just that. A theory. I had the worst toothache! I have pretty strong teeth and only got my first cavity when I was in university. Unfortunately this means that at the age of 24, I still have the 5-year-old’s-fear-of-dentists. I put on my big girl panties and decided to go to the dentist, since I screamed like a little girl at lunch. I planned on getting a mouth guard to sleep with, but karma decided to give me a damn good reason to go to the dentist instead.
When I arrived at the dentist’s office, I tried explaining the problem. Thank goodness they can speak English pretty well! I started crying. How embarrassing! I just started crying!!!! Noooo! Pretty sure it was fear + pain + stress + really-happy-boyfriend-passed-his-interview + please don’t take my tooth, all nicely wrapped up in waygook tears. The poor assistants (all late 20s) were all sparking to get me to calm down! They were so cute!
“Please Miss Mari, sit down!”
“Watchee teebee!” (tv)
A few minutes later the dentist (also a young chap) came back and asked me in his best English: “Miss Mari, are you calm now?” Mortified.
I explained how I was sure it’s tooth grinding blah blah blah (trying to convince the doc you’re fiiine! .. come on, you know you do it too). He checked me out and said: “You have inflammation.. under previously fixed cavity. You need root canal.”
The poor staff members did NOT know what to do next, as I was now laughing AND tearing up. I mumbled a “ha.. my boyfriend had root canal last week.. eishhh.” “Miss Mari, tell me if you are ready okay? Do you want to relax first?” LOL I felt so awkward! So I remembered the big girl panties and said: “I will never be ready.. so you can just do it.” We had this quick conversation… Oh Korea..
“It will hurt, right?”
“Yes, it will be quite painful.”
“Eh.. you’re supposed to make me feel better!!!”
“I am sorry. I am just being realistic! Hehe!”
While he finished some work on another patient, the sweet assistants returned – all four of them – with a cup of water and a painkiller. ”Miss Mari! Drink! No pain!” Now, my dear friends, this is one of the things I suck at. Swallowing pills. My mouth says yes and my brain refuses. Korea has taught me to swallow the damn stuff, because being sick by yourself is horrible. But sheesh, being told you’re getting a root canal and having a mini cup of water to swallow a huge pill with four assistants standing around you…oh the pressure! After the third try and a few embarrassing “Hehe, sorry, I’m NERVOUS!” I got it down. And they all cheered and applauded. So yes, I was laughing before my root canal! Whuuut. Madness.
The procedure was explained to me in perfect English and the dentist answered all of my strange questions. The injection was… bloody freaking sore and I was sure I wouldn’t come out of this alive. Honestly though, after that I felt *nothing*. In Korea they cover your face with a cloth that has a hole for your mouth. It was weird at first, but except for the obvious reason (no water splashing on your face) I actually LOVED not being able to see anything. Plus, since the cloth is dark, you can really close your eyes and relax.
Root canals are done in stages, so I have to go back, but the procedure today cost me 15,000 won. That’s $13 or R100! I got some pain meds and antibiotics from the pharmacy for 2,000 won. (less than $2/R13) The total procedure shouldn’t cost me more than 50,000 won ($43/R340) In South Africa you’d probably pay that just for the appointment!
The staff were amazing and the dentist really made me overcome my fear! (Well.. at least in Korea!)
- When visiting the dentist, remember to take your Medical Health Card (that huge white form thing) and your ARC. Once you’re on their records you probably just need your ARC.