I am grounded… by a stranger called toothache. I used to take pride in my capacity to suffer physical pain… Foolhardy, I know….but used to chronic back pain, I can carry on with backaches and headaches for months together before an exasperated husband drags me to a doc. That’s what I did the last four months. I bore severe muscular pain right around my right shoulder blade by popping Voveran pills as and when I required it… ie. whenever pain became unbearable. Finally, unable to see my grimaces and silent groans of pain, miyaji got violently angry (a rather rare occurrence!) and forced me to ring up my Ortho and fix up an appointment. As expected, Dr. J ordered me off the PC and suggested a new chair. I told him I hated anything that moved under me…so wheeled chairs were a no-no…Even those that swiveled were taboo for me… Better- half looked heavenward before telling the doc that he is blessed with the only unreasonable woman on the earth who has silly fetishes about chairs. I maintained stiff upper-lip and stood my grounds till a compromise was reached about searching for a chair with arms to rest my right hand so that my back muscles would get support while I blog….( What sacrifice one has to go through, for self expression!) And he prescribed a couple of pills to pop and scheduled another meeting after 5 days! Then I had this busiest Friday with around 16 people for lunch and I cooked and cooked and cooked the whole morning! All went off well… the next day, I had a slight irritation inside my mouth… a tingling pain at the far end of the teeth on the right… By evening it became a nagging pain… Something I tried to ignore, but in vain… By night it was like a bandh in Kerala… where various political parties get in cahoots to put the spanner in the works… I had tooth, ear and head aches… my eyes refused to open …and I felt sorry for myself… 24 hours…and I am beat! Dead beat! Frantically I called the nearest hospital and fixed up an appointment with a dentist. She said she was free at 11… I mumbled ‘whatever’. By 9.30 in the morning I was feeling so sorry for myself…By 10 I just couldn’t wait….the pain was killing me. My face now resembled a Halloween pumpkin that had left behind on the shelf after October 30<SUP>th</SUP>! I was ready to dissolve into tears… This new weakling side to my personality amazed me… I had borne far worse pain on the cervical and lumbar regions with fortitude… Now some nagging pain inside the mouth was rendering me helpless! Am I growing soft? Weak? Old? Is my resistance power deserting me? Am I turning into a decrepit geriatric? I was at the hospital an hour before my appointment. As I sat in the waiting area, I was wondering why the nurses and attendants clad in white were scurrying past me without even a sympathetic glance? Why did doctors sidle past me? Can’t they see an emergency when one sits sorry for itself with a swollen face? What’s with the new version of Hippocratic Oath? Or had it become hypocritical oath? GRRRR! If no one noticed my plight, I’ll scream! Right across me are two medical representatives… They are also waiting to see my dentist. Will they get to see her before me? Can they not see my plight? Do they have a solution for my plight in those black bulky bags of theirs? Are they allowed to give free samples of pain killers to patients who are obviously in pain? Am I hallucinating? Aaaaaaah! It hurts… Finally, I just grab the skirt of a nurse who has been scurrying to and fro for God knows what, and tell her to inform my dentist that if she is free, I’d like to see her as my pain is getting worse. She looks at me like the clerk in the Government Department who says, ‘Not me… I am from a different section…!’ Maybe the tears in my eyes melts her professionally solidified heart and she networks with a coterie of white-clad and capped nurses and finally one decides to come to my help. She sashays into the doc’s room and sashays right back, saying. Doctor busy… Wait for some time! After eons, my turn comes. By now I have committed two or three murders in my imagination… Now it is time for retribution! Doc doesn’t smile sympathetically…What happened to the bedside manners docs were supposed to have? Or doesn’t it apply to a dentist because her patients are in chairs…and not beds? She orders me to sit on a reclining chair that looks like a beach lounge chair! The moment I have comfortable settled in it, somebody cranks some lever and BAM! I fall backwards! Panicky, I scramble up! Like I said, I am paranoid about things moving under me! A masked nurse pushes me back into an uncomfortable angle and lowers a bright light to focus on my face! Soon the doc is jabbing away with a gloved finger in the most painful manner… I feel like biting the finger gloved or not gloved…but am intimidated by my posture. What if she retaliates with her pliers or chisels or rongeurs or even a scalpel? I lie there helpless as jab after jab and poke after poke and tap after tap on the affected area make me wince and whimper! Believe me, it is tough to whimper and wince when your mouth is hanging open and your tongue is safely stowed to one corner of your mouth! She finally decides to retreat and declares that it is only gum inflammation…ONLY? It is @###*** killing me! Do you want an injection or a tablet for pain relief? She asks, like a casual barber who says “Cut or shave, sir?” So I get to decide…eh? I want an injection, I say. I know jabs will work faster than pills in pain killing! So a jab it is…in an unmentionable part of my posterior as I lie in an inelegant angle… Then I have to lie there for 15 minutes… ‘Doctor’s order’ says the masked nurse, as she drags wheeled curtains around me cordoning me off from the rest of the OPD area… And I lie there waiting for pain to subside, telling myself, Ouch! It hurts! Still… Reach home with a bagful of antibiotics and analgesics… amble about doing nothing… This morning the face is still swollen… like a pumpkin being grown for a contest… bigger cheeks…bigger jowls… head pounding more … Alone at home… feeling sorry for myself… Wanted to share my pain with my friends… Hence boring you... But one thing is for sure… Toothache is the deadliest of them all!