Obsessed and Abscessed: OCD and Accidental Dental Tourism

My brain and body have seen fit to remind me this week that just because I’m on vacation from many aspects of my regular life doesn’t mean that I left my health issues at home when I hopped on a plane and transversed the Atlantic.

Seizure-wise, things have, thankfully, been pretty chill, and I’m supremely grateful for these weeks of semi-reprieve: I haven’t had a single convulsive seizure, just a few partials, most of which occurred when I was first adjusting to the time difference and exhausted from the initial travel. Since then, it’s been pretty smooth sailing.

In terms of my OCD symptoms, on the other hand, the situation has been a little more turbulent. Suffice it to say that being away from normal routine isn’t always great for my mental health.

And then there’s the abscess.

I knew on Tuesday that there was something wrong with my tooth, but I kept trying to convince myself that the issue would resolve itself, or at least that I could wait and see my dentist when I got back to Canada. But from the time I went to bed on Wednesday night to when I woke up on Thursday morning, my lower-left jaw/gum zone had started hurting like a mofo and was swelling at an alarming rate.

I started Googling “emergency dental care Cambridge UK,” mentally calculating exchange rates and subtracting approx. a bazillion dollars from my bank account. Clutching my cheek, I got on the phone and called the most reasonable dental clinic I could find—one specializing in emergency care and with lengthy opening hours—and made an appointment for a few hours later.

For the record, any stereotypes you North Americans might have about British dentists seem to be, based on my admittedly limited experience, unfounded. The one I saw was lovely. She took an x-ray, started me on antibiotics, and agreed that I could probably wait until returning to Toronto for the root canal. The whole ordeal was relatively quick and added relatively little metaphorical pain (stress, anxiety, $$) to an unmetaphorically painful deal.

Waiting for the dentist. Based on my extremely limited experience, which I will assume is representative of everyone’s experience at all times, UK dental offices are hyper-modern. The dentist chairs even had a massage function, which I didn’t have the chance to utilize. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have my root canal while in England. 

Apparently some people travel to foreign countries just to get dental work done. (This is because everything related to teeth is exorbitantly expensive in North America. Dental tourists generally don’t go to the UK. We’ll ignore that part.) I did it inadvertently. It turned out OK, or it seems to be turning out OK, anyway, and I’m determined to enjoy the rest of my trip despite the throbbing and the (now-fading) half-chipmunk look I’ve been sporting for the past few days.

I’m also determined to remember that I can only control so much: obsess and abscess as I might, life goes on.


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