If I were on a feeding tube, I’d have had it pulled yesterday

Remember in Fargo when Carl (Steve Buscemi) gets shot in the jaw during the money drop? I feel like I”ve living that for the past 36 hours or so. And yesterday, I was ready for the wood chipper.

What started as an annoying ache in that least-favorite molar Wednesday had mushroomed into a debilitating mass of swollen pain throughout the left half of my jaw by Saturday morning.

Since being diagnosed last year with “micro breaks” in my least-favorite molar, I”ve learned to endure some rather regular but manageable pain back there. But by yesterday morning, it became clear this was something else – something I needed to see a professional about.

After spending a couple of hours unsuccessfully trying to find a dentist in my DMO network (Aetna sucks) that is actually open on Saturday, and then just trying to find any dentist open on Saturday, I finally stumbled across Atlanta Dentist Group thanks to a contextual-search ad they placed on Yahoo! Local.

[editor"s note: My search experience yesterday reinforces the notion that sponsored results in search engines are a great indicator of the value of the site being advertised. If they are going to pay for me to visit there, chances are they have good stuff to offer. I don"t think it"s coincidence that the one dentist in Atlanta open on Saturday is also the only one buying keywords in Yahoo! Local].

Thanks to the very friendly and helpful girl who answered the phone, I was able to get an 11:30 appointment, which was good considering I was planning to jump in front of a MARTA bus around noon.

The dentist didn”t have to do much other than take some x-rays and poke at my least-favorite molar to diagnose the problem: like my soul, the tooth was dead and rotting inside.

The cure? Root canal.

I don”t know who came up with the term “root canal”, but I imagine it was some kind of sadist; maybe Steve Martin”s dentist character from Little Shop of Horrors. Root canal. Not tooth stabilization or anything nice like that. “Root canal” = “trench dug deep in your tooth.” Ugly.

There are two important things to note at this point in the story:

1) My insurance won”t pay for the one Atlanta dentist open on Saturdays to perform the root canal. I”m going to have to go back to my network dentist to get that ball rolling.

2) I”m supposed to leave for L.A. tomorrow morning.

So despite the doctor”s offer to dig out my rotten tooth guts right then and there for a mere $1,000, I left with just a prescription for antibiotics and Tylenol 3.

The good news is that the antibiotics seem to be taking. As of this morning, the pain has retreated to just my least-favorite molar, and its manageable (thanks, codeine!) to the point that I can drink lukewarm liquids and eat mushy food, provided everthing stays in the right side of my mouth.

My hope is that the antibiotics will knock the infection down enough to let me get on that plane tomorrow morning. I have to be in L.A. Tuesday, and the only option I can think of is to push my flight back to Monday night and try to get a root canal tomorrow before I leave, which really doesn”t sound like a good idea.

If I can just get back to where I was Tuesday – rotten tooth dying peacefully in the back of my mouth, I should be OK until I can get back from L.A. and get it dug out.

Wish me luck.

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