Pain and Relief

Sometimes, the real world bites, but I couldn’t. I didn’t intend for this blog to be a litany of painful things going on in my life, and I still don’t. However, getting hit with Bell’s Palsy just before heading to Honduras on a mission trip was only the second most painful thing this summer.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the day before we went to Honduras my face froze. The picture at the top of this post is a collage of daily photos from our two weeks on the island. As you can see, it’s improved but I still have some waiting to do. However, the day after we returned from Roatan I got a toothache. Not just any toothache, but the kind where half your face swells up like you’re hiding a grapefruit kind of toothache. The first day wasn’t so bad, but it got worse the next, so I went to the dentist. He gave me some antibiotics and ibuprofen and scheduled me for a root canal next week. (Yay!)

By nightfall the pain had diminished slightly to the point I could fall asleep, but some time around 2 am, I woke up and noticed that my cheek was starting to swell. And it kept swelling. By morning, it was even more noticeable.

So at 5 am, unable to get back to sleep, I did what everyone does but shouldn’t. I hopped on to the internet and searched. Abscess. Swollen cheek. As I scanned article after article, my jaw and cheek continued to grow. Cellulitis. Sepsis. The advice was everything from use a warm compress, to run to the emergency room immediately! (Gulp!)

I didn’t want to panic, so I went back to the dentist’s office but they weren’t open yet. So I went to my doctor. They said they couldn’t do anything and sent me to the ER. After filling me up with antibiotics, they sent me to an oral surgeon. (Yikes!)

As I was waiting for the dentist to get approval from my insurance, (which ended up as covered but I still get to pay for it as it’s under my deductible,) I started doing the co-pay math in my head and began to reconsider some of my arguments I’ve had with my Canadian friends about their healthcare system. (Grumble!) Thank goodness, before I switched to the dark side, the nurse came in and they shot me full of Novocain.

They warned me the painkiller doesn’t always work when there is an infection. They then proceeded to prove their point as they sliced through my gum to get under the tooth to clear out the infection. I give the dentist credit. He was able to keep a steady hand while I practically jumped straight up in the chair.

The intense pain was brief, and I was already feeling relief the moment the infection started to drain away. So much so, that moments after they finished stitching me up, the dentist recognized me from beIN Sports and we started talking about soccer. It turns out he’s from Barranquilla, Colombia and still plays soccer every week.

We talked about Barcelona and Real Madrid, about Junior (tu papa!), about how he doesn’t go to games any more because of the more rowdy fans, but that one of his friends shells out money every month for the Champions League VIP passes. And we talked about the joy of playing the game.

I’m amazed he could understand me, with a half-frozen face stuffed full of gauze, but he did. I guess it’s a special skill dentists develop. Before I realized it, the pain from my toothache was almost gone. And I’m actually looking forward to heading back for next week’s follow-up.

Hopefully, that will be the end of my off-season ordeals and there will be more pleasant things to share in the coming weeks and months. I’ve been able to plant a lot of seeds for my new company with agents and advertising houses, (and some seeds are already bearing fruit!) I’ve got students lining up for my broadcast coaching. And it looks like I’ll be making a return to the USL play-by-play booth after a near two-decade absence.

And I’m also looking forward to getting back into the beIN broadcasting saddle. I was glad I was able to call Flamengo’s Copa Libertadores win last week despite my sore tooth and the palsy. And I’ve got my engines revving over the upcoming start of the Ligue 1 and La Liga seasons. Exciting times in store. And God willing, I’ll try to keep the screaming to a minimum.


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