Talk about pain.
I'm telling you, I experienced pain last week that was second only to the contractions of childbirth.
And it was all because of a stupid tooth. But who knew a tiny tooth, and any even smaller cavity inside the tooth, could bring your whole body down.
At first, I tried to ignore it. I took a few Advils and told myself it would be over in the morning.
My husband told me to call and make an appointment, but I told him I could handle it, that it would go away soon.
I was wrong.
You see, I had a cavity that needed some serious attention about a year ago. At the time, the dentist told me to get it taken care of soon, but I had just dropped my insurance and I was balking at the roughly $100 it was going to take to fix the tooth.
Then it cracked and the price went up to about $300.
Still, I couldn't bring myself to spend the money. These days, money is tight. And now, after years of flashing my insurance card like a badge of honor at doctors offices all over Lexington, I'm one of those unfortunate folks with no insurance. We still have insurance for Michaela, but it became less of a priority for me and my hubby.
And not having insurance certainly makes you think twice before you go to the doctor. First of all, the cost is outrageous. Secondly, the moment you say you don't have insurance, the receptionist or office manager immediately cops an attitude and starts huffing and puffing as if you just declared that you're a loser.
Anyways, on Monday, the tooth cracked again. On Tuesday, I was fine, but thinking about calling my dentist to make an appointment for the next few weeks. On Wednesday, the swelling began. On Thursday, the pain began and my husband gave me the ultimatum I usually give him -- you call or I'll call. I called and got an appointment for Friday and a prescription for antibiotics. Friday morning, when I got up to get ready for my appointment, the whole left side of my face was swollen about two times over, from my chin to my eyebrow.
It wasn't pretty. Three hours later, the tooth was pulled. The kind folks at Beaumont Family Dentistry gave me a free Xray, and the gracious office manager at Kentucky Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery put me on a lenient payment plan.
The cost of getting the cavity filled: About $100 or so.
The cost of getting the cracked tooth fixed: About $300.
The cost of getting an infected tooth fixed, minus the cost of the pain meds: $583.
The lesson I learned about not taking care of a cavity as soon as possible: Priceless.
And the lesson I learned about how little things in life can bring you to your knees: Also priceless.
I mean, really, how many of us put things off until they hurt other aspects of our lives?
Like homework assignments.
Like mechanical or home repairs.
Or, perhaps more important things, like apologies. Or forgiveness. Or broken relationships.
In the beginning, the problems seem so small. We figure we've got time to take care of it. Life happens and time passes and sometimes we even forget about the problem for a moment. We think, well, maybe that person is over it by now. Or well, if they cared they should call me first. Or maybe it'll just pass over.
Time does heal some wounds, but some wounds grow deeper with time. They fester. They seep poison and contaminate healthy tissue.
In the end, we learn that the cost of a little preventative care or a small fix is far less than the cost of a major repair, especially when there is pain involved.
So take the advice of a woman who is still recovering. Take care of it. Today.
If it's a tooth, call the dentist.
If it's a bill, call and make arrangements.
If it's an apology, make the first move.
If it's forgiveness, grant it with grace.
You'll feel a lot better when you get it out.