Slice of Life, Work

A Visit to the Dentist Means Some Life Changes

This past week I went for a dental check-up, as I’ve been having a pain in my left side. I have a high pain tolerance, so when I first noticed the sensitivity, I didn’t think much of it. I assumed it would go away, I mean, I have sensitive teeth anyhow, nbd. But it didn’t go away. In fact, the pain got to be so much when eating that I couldn’t chew at all on my left side. I ignored it for a bit longer. Then one morning, my cheek was swollen twice the size it ought to be! “Alright,” I told myself, “something’s definitely wrong, and it’s actually starting to hurt now. You gotta get this mess together.” And I called the dentist’s office.

I try to do my twice yearly, but I haven’t stuck to a regimen while moving these last few years, and this fact unnerved me. I already don’t particularly enjoy going to the dentist (does anyone?), but I knew it’d been a little over a year since my last cleaning. I braced myself (pun intended) for impact while the dental hygienist got to work with the scraping and poking.

Nope. Nothing wrong. My teeth are perfect, my gums are healthy. Kudos to me from the dentist.

Okay, so not exactly what I was expecting.

“There is a decent sized laceration on your gum over here,” the dentist told me, “that would definitely account for the swelling. Have you eaten any sharp foods lately?” We agreed that tacos were the culprit. “Otherwise, there’s absolutely no obvious reason for you to be experiencing pain. Even the x-rays show good health. Do you clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night?”

Guilty. I constantly clench my jaw through out the day and I have to consciously make myself stop. At night, I sleep in the tightest fetal position, with my fists clenched under my chin. I usually wake up tired and with sore muscles. This is how I’m living life right now, seriously.

This is yet another case in which my body is healthy, but my brain is not. So I’ve got to make some real changes and stick to them. I can’t let my job rule every aspect of my life as I’ve allowed it to do for the past sixteen months – it’s starting to take a literal physical toll on me.

I just cleared my ninth workday in a row, so I took Thursday off. I did the few at-home work things I needed to take care of, but otherwise parked myself on the couch and zoned out. I slept all day, I went to family dinner, I slept some more. It was awesome to catch up on so much sleep! It’s shameful, too, but my cat’s been an ass this week and has only been letting me sleep for four to five hours at a time. Look, I feed her – before I leave the house and again before I sleep. It’s not my fault if she can’t ration appropriately in the between times. Ass.

I’ve also changed my sleeping posture – more pillows, less clenching, “soft jaw” as my old yoga instructor would say. And it’s helped significantly. I’m able to eat with my whole mouth again, though there is a tinge of pain if I bite down just right.

I discovered hot tea last week. Okay, perhaps not a “discovery” or a big whoop to most of you, but y’all gotta understand I’m from the South. Here, when we talk about tea, there’s only two options: sweet tea and iced tea. Hot tea, milky tea, breakfast tea and whatever else kind of tea don’t have a home here. This genuinely is a learning experience for me. A good one, though; it’s keeping me from drinking several cups of coffee more than I should during the day and in turn is allowing me to sleep easier. I’m slowly finding a balance and a taste for hot tea. An appreciation for it, even.

Per my brother’s encouragement, I’m focusing on writing my own D&D campaign. It will give me a creative writing outlet and get my mind away from the lonely boredom of lockdown (otherwise I revert to hours of TV watching just to get out of my head). I think I’ve got a pretty hefty premise, and there’s so so much left to flesh out. I’ll post bits of the campaign as I go, but for now everything is handwritten in a notebook, scrawled hastily as ideas come to me.

Beyond that, there’s not much to tell as I have no clue how to go about creating and organizing a playable campaign (my next YouTube tunnels research project). I believe my plot is a bit ambitious for a first timer to DM as a homebrew, but I’m not going to give up simply because it’s designed to be difficult. The best way to learn is to do, so I’m not going to back down just because the plot is thiccc.

What I can say is my campaign is heavily influenced by Scott Ciencin’s Shadowdale and will take place in the Forgotten Realms. Honestly, I enjoyed the premise of Shadowdale, though I was underwhelmed by the characters and the story overall. I was so underwhelmed, in fact, that I didn’t bother picking up the rest of the series. Sad, but true. I figured I could take a parallel story and make it more to my liking. It’s basically how Octavia Butler got her start in SciFi writing – she wasn’t seeing anyone write the stories she wanted to read. Her solution: create the stories herself.

I’m struggling to find something to read. For the past few days, I’ve started and stopped several books – books I’ve been wanting to read. But I’m uninterested overall. I settled on Ready Player Two by Earnest Cline the other day, and for as much as I loved the first novel, I’m not as spirited about this one. I’ve all but put this one down, too.

It’s fairly maddening – simultaneously wanting and not wanting to do a thing. It’s a characteristic of my depression, so I’m trying to fight through the reading block and the writing block for the sake of recognizing the downswing horizon. I’m trying so desperately (without the help of my job or the people there) to keep a downswing at bay!

Cheers to all the folks who know what I’m talking about, and cheers to the good fight!

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