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The Tooth and the Whole Tooth

I had managed to make it past 40 without ever having a cavity or any dental work done.  That streak has just ended.  Thanks to a tipped over wisdom tooth, a cavity developed and the best course of action was to remove that wonky tooth and fill the cavity.  That was quite an experience.

tooth

Out… out damned tooth.

If you’ve never had your face numbed, I can’t say I recommend it unless the alternative is excruciating pain.  When you touch your skin, you feel that sensation with both your fingers and your skin.  When one of those is no longer receiving the signal, it just feels so wrong.  The non-feeling skin almost feels dead.  That was my cheek and chin for the better part of four hours.

But the whole thing went off without a hitch and now I’m on the mend.  Again I am reminded of the semi-charmed life that I lead.

I can’t say that life has never touched me or that it’s all been sunshine and rainbows but thankfully most of the things that have gotten me down are what we jokingly refer to as “first world problems.”  And the illnesses I’ve been subject to have not been all that bad.  I’ve had pneumonia, chicken pox and my gallbladder removed.  I can’t say I was down for more than week because of any of them.  Obviously I haven’t had to deal with cavities in the past and my teeth are quite strong.  I’ve cut myself a few times pretty good but never to the point where I really required stitches.  I think I clot well.

This isn’t to brag.  Sometimes I’m just amazed at it.  I know shit could happen and I’m grateful when it doesn’t.  What I am aware of that gets me through any rough patches is that I’m not really in control of what happens around me (and sometimes to me).  There but for the grace of God go I (or however you phrase it).

I do the bare minimum when it comes to my teeth.  I brush daily (usually only once) and floss a few times a month.  I hadn’t been to the dentist in several years and all in all, probably only been about a dozen times in my entire life.  The gallbladder thing sucked but I’ve been pretty great since it’s removal.  Perhaps the experience gave me a much greater tolerance to pain and discomfort.  I do what I can to be comfortable, but if there is no alternative, I can endure quite a lot.

However, the ease with which I’ve coasted through life has not blinded me to what others must suffer and endure.  I don’t think for one second, “If I can do it, so can they.”  Everyone is different and they have their own set of circumstances.  Each person’s experience is unique and I would never try to diminish that in any way.  I’m a generally lucky person whether I deserve it or not.  If someone feels they are the opposite, who am I to contradict them.

This is something that I’ve seen done many times and it can be quite thoughtless and unfair.  People who share about being discriminated against or abused in some way are often told that they are too sensitive or they are the ones who are taking it wrong.  If someone is describing the difficulties of their day in regards to health or size, people tell them they are wrong and should fix it rather than expect the world to be a little more sympathetic and understanding.  Life is not one-size fits all and your experience is not all experience.

Next time you hear someone complain, perhaps the only thing you need to do is allow that person to be heard.  Sometimes that’s all they need.  And if there is something you can provide, offer it without judgment and let the other person decide if that’s right for them.  Today, life is going your way.  Tomorrow might be a whole different story.

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