John Walker's Electronic House

Thursday 1: John 0

by on Sep.09, 2010, under The Rest

Oh, Thursday. You and your sick sense of humour. Or perhaps it’s pure malice.

Today was framed to suck from the start. Last night my problematic tooth became intolerably problematic, a root filling seeming to have not done the trick to prevent its misbehaving, and most peculiarly it was gradually changing my bite until I couldn’t bring my front teeth together.

I could have made another emergency appointment with a local NHS dentist, but I’m still feeling stung (literally) from the last time two weeks ago. My regular dentist is two hours’ drive away in Guildford, in the form of my dad. But he was on holiday two weeks back, so I had no choice. Unfortunately, the dentist I got managed to not only fail to remove all the nerve from the tooth in two attempts in two consecutive days (the first attempt made things enormously worse, once the 900 gallons of anaesthetic that had made my nose go numb finally wore off), but worse, she had injected anaesthetic directly into the muscle in my jaw, which apparently caused a blood clot to form around the wound, which is why it still hurts to open and close my mouth.

My dad undid her mess and did a splendid root canal filling, which looked pristine on the x-ray. But a week later the pain was returning. Which is odd, for a tooth from which he’d removed the remaining nerve completely. Since I’m away on holiday on Monday, and away this weekend too, there was no other time than Thursday lunchtime. An uneventful drive down to Guildford got me to the surgery in just over two hours, and quickly my dad was trying to diagnose what was going on.

My teeth are weird. I’m fairly sure I’ve talked about this before on the blog, years ago. But they do odd things, like not go numb. Despite enough anaesthetic being poured into me to put down a rhinoceros, when it comes to drilling inside there’s this unholy hell of pain. It doesn’t make sense, and multiple dentists have run foul of it. So perhaps whatever causes that pain, which cannot be the tooth’s nerve, was causing this one too. The filling was easily removed without needing to numb it, but when it came to cleaning out the root canals, one of them revealed the point of evil. The metal twisty scrapy drill (as dentists call it) was cleaning it out when OW OW OW OW OW. All of the OW, concentrated into one tiny spot of mega-OW.

The mystery requires more research, and so for now I’ve been temporary filled, and given a course of antibiotics that should hopefully undo whatever wickedness is going on in there. My theory: a ghost. A haunted tooth. And antibiotics are always best for that sort of thing. So a slightly unsatisfactory visit (although things are improved enormously with the bite fixed, so I can use my teeth to tear flesh from corpses once more) (oh, and it’s always lovely to see my dad) was to be followed by a two hour journey home, then some chores, then lots of work to get done, before a meeting at 8pm.

I got back to Bath at 8.15pm.

Thursday’s next trick was to hilariously have the exhaust fall off my car while I was going down the M3. (If you’re confused, and an annoying road nerd, I have an excellent route from Guildford to the M4 that involves going one junction on the M3.) The motorway is not the ideal location for this, and at this time I didn’t know what was wrong. Suddenly my car was sounding like a super-powerful motorbike with a hole in its silencer, and I thought I saw what looked like bits of rubber dancing down the road in my rear-view mirror. But clearly a tyre hadn’t blown, so I figured I’d get off the motorway before figuring it out. I was also about to run out of petrol, as I’d timed it to fill up at Bracknell before the M4 anyway, so after realising your could become a millionaire if you opened a petrol station between the M3 and Bracknell, eventually found one attached to a Sainsbury’s.

It didn’t take much skill to see the problem. The tail-pipe of the exhaust was just completely missing, a rusty fractured hole left behind on the resonator. (Yes, I did just look that word up.) A slight problem. I didn’t want to take it on the motorway for an hour in that state, so I found a local KwikFit (I feel sorry for the cavemen who had to live before the iPhone) and they lived up to their poorly spelt name and replaced it immediately, including a new muffler that had been damaged too. For £125. Sadface. Comedy mishap fixed, I sent a tweet asking Thursday what else it had planned.

It had closing the M4 planned. The M4 is the motorway that bisects the South of England, running from London to Wales in pretty much a straight horizontal line. (Straight by British standards, in so much as it weaves and bends all over the place.) The new electronic signs, which seem mostly to be used for telling me to “THINK BIKE” – an instruction I find quite bemusing, but apparently makes more sense if you’ve seen the accompanying ad campaign – were warning that Junction 17 was closed. This wasn’t a problem for me, as I come off at J18, and figured there’d be a chunk of slowdown around that point, but it’s only a short gap. Later signs offered, “M4 closed J17 – 18”. And, well, I just didn’t believe them.

I think fifteen years of being lied to by motorway warnings has taken its toll. The number of times such signs have slowed the road down to 40mph for roadworks, only for there to be none at all, certainly outscores the times anything has really been going on. And another part of my brain thought: “They can’t actually close down the entire M4 – that would be insane.”

My last chance to exit was junction 16 at Swindon, which in hindsight would have been an obvious place to leave. I used to drive from Bradford-On-Avon to Swindon reasonably often, and it’s an easy route. It would have been incredibly busy, but it would have gotten me home. But I, like so many others, continued on. I figured, it’ll be open again by the time we get there!

The time we got there was about three hours later. I drove three miles in an hour and a half. The two hour journey home took me five and a half hours. I needed to wee with about three hours to go.

I saw more sensible men than I standing on the edge of the lay-bys, proudly peeing for all the traffic to enjoy. One man, clearly gaining a disgusted look from a driver, offered an enthused peace sign as he weed.

So of course today is the day for O2 to apparently give up on providing internet access via the iPhone. Whether it was the software update this morning, or the latest demonstration of O2’s unending, borderline-criminal incompetence, I’ve no idea. But it meant that not only was I sat in the world’s longest, thinnest carpark for three hours, but I couldn’t tweet about it. THE WORST SORT OF HELL.

I got back at 8.15, the meeting missed, a brand new exhaust, my bum so very numb from sitting, and my tooth still hurting.

Thursday: you win.


11 Comments for this entry

  • Colthor

    Ouch. Bad luck, John. Hope the antibiotics help the toothache.

    Although with your luck so far today maybe you shouldn’t take them until tomorrow, lest they cause the evolution of an invincible strain of Lurgy which exterminates all sentient life in the universe.

  • EthZee

    You should have said you were in Guildford! I could have offered you a cup of tea.

    Still. That was a fairly rubbish day by all accounts (except maybe the Kwikfit people).

  • innokenti

    I hate teeth. They are evil things. We should involve to not need them.

  • innokenti

    Involve?! What?

    I meant evolve.

  • SteveA

    Um, not sure how tactful it is to point this out, but the M4 was closed due to a motorbike crash.

    tactful to the guy injured, not you John.

  • Nick Mailer

    This is what happens when you don’t record a Rum Doings. Let it be a warning.

  • Alex

    I have read that scientists are now tasking teeth and sticking them in the eyes of people with certain visual impairments. Maybe yours was just more ambitious that you thought and didn’t take kindly to being ground down and killed.

  • Alex B

    According to my limited medical knowledge, it could indeed have been a ghost tooth. It happens with limbs, so why not teeth?

    Glad to hear you got it pulled, though.

  • Aeneas

    Dad’s rock.

  • Nick Mailer

    Your dad has a rock, Aeneas? What about it?

  • Andytizer

    You are lucky to have a family member who is a good dentist, whereas us common folk have to contend with the NHS dentist lottery all the time.