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I used to be such a whiner. These days, I’m noted as being very considerate, and that’s starting to be applicable to myself. Back in the day, if I’d had a twinge of tooth pain, you’d hear the cry of ‘just pull it’ because, really, dentistry in the UK at that point was still a pot-luck of butchery. Apart from my own dietary habits and lack of decent oral hygiene as a kid, my mouth was treated by people who would be sued out of existence today (I’d still like to know if the woman who tried to treat me without anesthetic and promptly told me to shut up as I cried, ever received some equal reward). There are some who meant well, but lacked the implements to do more than a cover-up job. Thankfully, those days are long gone and all the evil that was done, has slowly been replaced by something more esthetically pleasing to the eye and tongue.

Recently, after having a root canal treatment, I have again been reminded of the pains of youth when some mysterious ailment befell my tooth and the throbbing set in. After having a crown placed the throbbing got noticeably worse, and after putting up with the pain and inability to sleep properly (and also after a week of antibiotics and a cocktail of pain meds), the root canal was re-treated and I’m now going through the post-trauma which includes the feeling like the side of my face has been run over several times.

How does this relate to handling life?. When the pain first set in, it was incredibly easy to just reach for the Vicodin and Aleve, to cover up the problem. After several days of different medicinal supplements, my body started to fight against itself, with upset stomach, lack of sleep, and general disorientation; enough was enough. Cutting back on the meds increased the pain but forced my body and mind to actually deal with the situation. Something had triggered in my mind after a few days that kept saying to me ‘You can’t make it just disappear, so just deal with it’ and since that time, while the pain hasn’t reduced, the fixation on it, has.

The sudden conception of dealing with something in life isn’t new but it’s always a very important milestone, when it happens. While quality of life has increased dramatically, so has dependence on situations being dealt with by some other, easier route. Too often we forget how to navigate our own logic and being cognitive of how to deal with any aspect of life, is an important factor in being self-aware. While I’m not condoning the introduce pain into our lives to promote understanding, I am saying that when pain does enter, in whatever form, we should fully engage in dialogue with it, discuss why it’s there, and deepen our self-knowledge in the process.