Clove Oil and the Fire of Hades

We’re going a bit off topic today. The event recounted below took place a few months ago, but I’m just now getting around to sharing it. Know that I’m all better. And please learn the lesson of the day. The Fox certainly has. 

Here’s how it is. I’ve been battling a toothache for about 5 days now and it’s steadily gotten worse. I made it to the dentist yesterday and turns out one of my old root canals is unhappy and out to destroy me with pain. Not death by a thousand cuts pain, but more like a beat up dump truck is being driven through my gums and the burly driver keeps smashing into things before finally overturning his truck full of sulfur into a raging volcano and exploding into a thousand pieces of truck shards kind of pain.

And said tooth was winning at this little game until I discovered not 1 but 2 Alieve pills will put that fire out for about 6 hours. But then the burly truck driver somehow survives the carnage and rebuilds his truck and starts all over again. So I take another 2 Alieve. Then another 2. Then I discover the bottle says you should only take a maximum of 3 within a 24 hour period. Oops. And I think the truck driver knows it.

So the dentist said I would need to go to an endodontist to get the tooth taken care of…and the next available appointment at the endodontist that takes our insurance is a month away. There are other “endos” who don’t take our insurance, but they are more expensive by a couple thousand bucks. There are also much cheaper endos that operate out of their van and don’t require any ID, but they spell endodontist with a W on the side of said van and sell ice cream to children during the procedure.

Now I don’t want to be a prescription pill abuser (at least my wife doesn’t want me to be…I go back and forth as the truck driver does his thing) and she heard from a friend of a friend that clove oil was great at numbing toothaches. I was skeptical, but about 2am last night my 6th Alieve had worn off and I had a choice to make – writhe in pain and gut it out, or soothe my aching mouth with an overdose of meds. I made the worst possible choice. I did both. I gutted it out for an hour, then caved and chugged two more painkillers. Pain causes some people to focus and brings them clarity. It clearly has different effects on me.

So this morning, after getting about 4 hours of sleep I agreed to let my wife run to the store and get me some clove oil. Now clove oil doesn’t actually have any instructions. There are no dosage requirements. Doesn’t even say if you should be putting this anywhere near your mouth. But who are we to argue with a friend of a friend, right? So my wife dabs some on a q-tip and I gently rub it around my throbbing gums.

The initial reaction was a mild burning sensation. Then a much stronger burning sensation. Then I made the mistake of breathing in through my mouth and the powerful clove fumes went straight down my throat and the burning spread rapidly through my innards. I jumped out of bed shoving my wife aside, rushed into the bathroom and proceeded to rinse my mouth as fast as possible. My challenge was figuring out how to rinse my throat. There are generally two ways of doing this – from the top down or the bottom up. My body was begging for the bottom up solution, but I wasn’t having any of that. So I gulped about 200 metric tons of water, quenching the fire and moving the fumes along. I’m sure I’ll pay for that later.

The wife enters the bathroom and asks, “Is it working?” All I could reply in the moment was, “Well, it has certainly taken my mind off my tooth.”

Then I stopped for a moment and moved my tongue around. Actually, the tooth had stopped hurting. In fact a good portion of the right side of my mouth was all numb. So, yeah, I suppose it worked. That was at 8:30 this morning. We are a few hours in and my face is still pleasantly pain free. But the big question now is how long will this ancient herbal remedy last. And what kind of wicked side effects I’m going to experience for subjecting myself to this archaic remedy likely pioneered in tribal rituals thousands of years ago?

Now, I must admit that there are other more reputable toothache solutions, like Orajel, and my wife actually bought some of that too. I think my lesson learned is that we should use the stuff that has been tested and FDA approved first and save the hackneyed solutions of pill popping hippies as the backup. In my compromised state of mind, my brain was in no position to make such logical choices. I’m not sure what my wife was thinking, but I suspect she is downstairs writing this up to all her girlfriends and having a hearty chuckle. So maybe our motives weren’t totally aligned in this venture – and that should be my second lesson learned.

Regardless, I’m essentially a guinea pig testing a new (old?) drug for the amusement of my wife. But I’m pain free, the right side of my face is only slightly sluggish and obviously my paws are fine for mousing and typing purposes. If I start hallucinating, I’ll make sure to have a pen and notepad near in case I receive any important messages.

Fox Tip: During a time of physical pain is not the time to behave like characters in a 17th century Dickens novel.

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