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Saturday, April 21, 2007  

Air Head

The last few days, I've been enjoying something I'd almost forgotten how to do: breathing.

I'd been battling a cold for the last couple weeks (if one can be said to be "battling" anything when lying around feeling sorry for oneself), plus springtime allergies. As a result, my nose became a snot-spigot stuck in the "on" position. I was going through tissue boxes at an alarming rate. And then, last Friday night, my teeth started hurting. I thought it was just one too many Gobstoppers that day and didn't worry about it, since I have a dentist appointment coming up soon anyway. It's not like a low-grade ache in my upper molars was going to deteriorate all that much in the next few days anyway.

When I woke up Monday morning, the pain in my upper jaw was gone. But then somehow, the exertion of getting dressed and getting ready and getting to work brought it roaring back, to the point where at 9:30 in the morning, I could hardly see. I was wondering if I had somehow cracked a tooth all the way up to the roots. Funny, it didn't feel loose at all. Still, how was I going to make it to my dentist appointment in this kind of agony?

Then I realized that the pain was actually more like below my cheekbone instead of above my teeth. And my admittedly vague understanding indicated that I had a sinus or two passing through that area. I also realized I'd never had a sinus infection before, and thus didn't know what one felt like. I wondered if that was what I was having now, and not some kind of catastrophic dental emergency after all. Because that would be awesome.

At ten a.m. on Monday, I told my boss I was going to the Minute Clinic. She thought that was a great idea. I don't know if you have Minute Clinics where you are, but they are absolutely excellent if you go in already knowing what's wrong with you. I walked about four blocks in the skyway to this little storefront office smaller than a convenience store. There's a little waiting room in front and an equally little exam room in back. After about a ten-minute wait while other people were seen, I got my turn and told the LPN that I thought I had a sinus infection. She asked me a few questions, shone lights into all of my cranial orifices, and said, yep, you nailed it. She wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic, which I went and had filled at the downtown Target an hour later. I did ask about painkillers, and she suggested some OTC ibuprophen. I suppose that given the speed, convenience, and value I was getting, I was sort of pushing my luck if I was hoping to get any Vicodin. Maybe if I'd bitched about it being more like a Five-Minute Clinic. But the ibuprophen I mooched off a coworker took most of the edge off while I waited for the antibiotics to do their thing.

Dude, those antibiotics worked. Cleared me right out. Not right away, mind you. But on Tuesday morning on my way to work, I blew my nose at a red light and by the time I was finished with that tissue it was so heavy that my car started listing to one side.

Later that morning, the most amazing thing happened: I could feel air moving behind my face. It was the most remarkable sensation. One becomes used to effectively carrying around a fifteen-pound bucket of phlegm on one's shoulders, and forgets that the proper term is "nasal passages," not "nasal plugs." Whereas before, my sinuses were all but permanently clogged with stubborn goo that even the most assiduous blowing could not fully clear, they now feel like mighty, open wind tunnels where engineers might test aircraft prototypes. The space between my ears feels like it has its own weather system. I'm not constantly wondering where my next box of tissues is coming from. I can even, for long stretches of time, breathe with my mouth closed.

But should I be worried that my teeth are still kind of sore?

posted by M. Giant 9:03 PM 2 comments

2 Comments:

Dude, you're going to annoy the NPs if you call them LPNs. These are not folks to be trifled with, either.

I'm glad to hear your noggin is more snot-free.

-febrifuge

By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 22, 2007 at 8:46 AM  

I always know when I have a temperature because my teeth ache. So maybe you have a low-grade fever accompanying your infection?

By Anonymous Leslie, at April 23, 2007 at 7:44 PM  

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