Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler.
I have never wanted so badly to have a cavity. Or an impacted wisdom tooth (whatever that is). Or need a root canal. No sane person ever wants these things. Longhaul COVID has a way of chipping away at a person’s sanity.
As I recently wrote, I started having major jaw/gum/tooth pain Saturday, and first thing this morning I was on the phone with the dentist my insurance company tells me I need to go to so I can be covered by said insurance. The place advertises “emergency dentistry.” I explained my situation, how last night I hit an “8” on the pain scale and that I am well-acquainted with pain (having had, among other things, my shoulder ripped out of the socket such that my arm was dangling like a wet noodle at my side).
And I was told that they could get me in at 11 a.m. …
On motherfreaking THURSDAY.
Instantly, I once again became this:
As a marketing guy, the first tenet is to tell the truth because, in this highly connected, someone-is-always-watching age, the truth is going to come out anyway. Imagine if an emergency room advertised itself as such and then, when you stumbled in bleeding from the guts with a gunshot wound, told you to go back home for more than seventy-two freaking hours.
Alas, I hung up and did the Google search thing to find a new dentist, and screw the insurance. While doing so, the kind people at my O.D. (Original Dentist, yo) must have remembered that first tenet of marketing and called me back. Somehow, they had found a way to see me, not in 72 hours, but in 10 minutes. There’s a big difference there, and as much as I wanted to say something, I didn’t.
This is where I was hoping for the cavity or the impacted wisdom tooth or need for a root canal. I have been to a lot of doctors recently as I try to figure out why I am being crushed by various symptoms the way I am. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. has done some form of shrugging of the shoulders accompanied by, “There’s still so much unknown about this. We’re trying to learn as fast as we can.”
And I get that. Not only do I get that, I appreciate that. I respect that. I, in a word, understand.
I also understand that there are three things that can hurt that take any and all enjoyment out of life:
- Your back
- Your ribs (just ask Pa Ingalls)
- Your mouth
And I was hoping, praying, that there was something actually wrong with my mouth — something identifiably wrong that could be drilled or filled or cut or extracted by someone, anyone… even this guy.
Because, frankly, I didn’t know if I could deal with another shoulder shrug, another “We’re trying.”
But 20 minutes later, that’s what I got.
“There’s something going on, but it’s not a cavity. There’s obvious pain when you bite down and when I tap on certain teeth, but the X-rays don’t show anything.”
I knew it was coming, but it still hurt: Shoulder shrug.
So I left with a prescription for antibiotics because my gum was a bit inflamed and maybe just maybe it’s an infection, and another prescription for hydrocodone and an appointment with yet another specialist, this one who has a 3D X-ray and can see me on … wait for it…. wait for it…
I went to my car and I sat there. And then I cried.
More than three-and-a-half months after my diagnosis, new problems are still emerging. And no one … no one … knows why or what to do about it. No one.
And so I came home and went to my home office and got to work. I wrote some video treatment plans. I attended a few meetings via Teams. I wrote some social media posts. I answered emails. I did what I do because I love what I do and think I am pretty good at what I do.
And, of course, I napped. I rested. Because I’m supposed to. Because I have to.
Why? Shoulder shrug
For how long? Shoulder shrug.
Isn’t there anything else beside resting? Shoulder shrug.
And here’s the thing: I know that other Longhaulers have hauled longer and are hauling worse. I’m a newbie by some people’s situations. And I am grateful I don’t have worse symptoms than I do. I really am. My heart goes out to everyone who has any sort of Longhaul COVID, and in writing what I do, I’m saying this: I see you. I’m with you. There’s a finish line… somewhere. Right?