…Root canal, that is. Yup, good times. One minute my (not really) pearly whites are doing what they’re supposed to, chewing and flashing charming grins and such, and the next, well, one of them is shooting a spear of pain up it’s nerve ending and into my eye socket, where it explodes into a million little nodules of hurt.
Twelve hours later I am in the dentist’s chair, chock full of lydacane but minus two roots from the fourth molar from the back. I guess it wasn’t so bad.
What hurt plenty more was the realization that I am falling apart, and the twin realization that this is because I am getting old.
I don’t really mind the getting old part too much. Much more clever people have said much more clever things than I ever could about ageing, and anyway, the only thing that I ever remember (the memory is the first to go) is the thing that I think is most important: Getting old: It’s better than the alternative.
What I’m not crazy about though, is the falling apart part. Now, I’m 33 – certainly not quite old enough to be bitching about being old, but old enough to know that it ain’t gonna get any easier. Or prettier. Take the root canal. A standard procedure; many people have it done much younger, and more times over than me. But I didn’t even have my first cavity until I was 25, and now, four cavities, the necessary removal of all of my wisdom teeth, a really pretty yellowish hue and two root canals later, it’s like my teeth have simply given up on me.
My knees, hips and back must have been jealous of the work stoppage, because they too have seriously slowed down on me, and are as likely to twitch, twinge, stab and outright strike as they are to keep me upright and moving.
There is much irony to growing older. For instance, my hands, arms and legs fall asleep easily, but I can lay awake for hours trying to catch some zzz’s. It takes a lot more work (and money) to keep my hair lustrous, shiny and flowing, yet hairs on my chin, toes and moles pop up so nicely with no help whatsoever. Gross, I know, but that’s how it goes. You’re lying if you say you’ve never plucked a stray from somewhere that hair just should not grow.
But hairs are not the only things sprouting on my body; skin tags under my eyes arrived during both of my pregnancies, and moles and spots pop up all the time. I am constantly on the lookout for bumps and lumps of disconcerting origin, because, as my mother so bluntly attributes to the women of my family, ‘We grow things.’ Goody! Should I just put a dermatologist on retainer now?
Speaking of growing, I seem to be able to grow and birth beautiful, healthy babies, and for that I am entirely, truly grateful, but I’d also be grateful if I could lose the extra flab that pregnancies so generously left behind. I can’t help but think that if I were, say, ten years younger (or a celebrity), I’d already be back to the weight I was before even my first pregnancy.
It also doesn’t help that I am married to a younger man. Now, don’t laugh, but 10 months seems to make all the difference between coming apart at the seams, and holding up just fine, thank you. Besides a teeny, tiny bit of thinning up top and expansion down below, my boy toy is in great shape. Well, almost great shape. The other night, after I turned to look at something and a white-hot dagger shot through my neck and shoulder because, you know, turning to look at something is such treacherous work, Chris sighed and shook his head.
‘Oh, honey,’ he said, somewhat pitifully. ‘What?’ I asked, ‘Don’t you ever have any pain?’ He looked at me sympathetically and nodded slowly. ‘Oh, definitely,’ he commiserated, ‘I do. A big one. It’s a pain in my ass.’
I wanted to throttle him, but I dared not attempt it, as my pre-arthritic fingers had been giving me some trouble. I’d sigh, but deep breaths can be tough work. Did I mention I’m asthmatic?