A few weeks ago I sent out a newsletter about my book reading in London (have you subscribed yet?). In the newsletter, I also mentioned my upcoming book reading in San Francisco and New York. I was a little bit concerned when I was writing it. The book readings looked like a big step forward, maybe even a leap too big to make. Yet there I was – plane tickets ready for six months and everything arranged.
I usually don’t like taking flights. But flying isn’t the problem. Getting to the airport is the most stressful thing for me, including packing and checking for the trip details. Almost always I think I’m not going to get the time right and arrive late or on a different day. Or that something will happen on the way to the airport and I’ll never make it to the final destination, which for some reason terrifies me.
This time I wasn’t so far from that. Only the reason was different. My wisdom tooth started to mess with me on Friday night. By Saturday evening, I had a big plastic bag full of ice on my jaw while eating dinner with my friends Kostas and Dee. I didn’t sleep that night, only to cry into the pillow from the pain. I was treating myself with paracetamol every four hours, but that would help for only 5-10 minutes.
Around 3am I was so desperate that I walked myself to St Thomas’s Hospital Emergency wing. By this time, my face looks like a bulldog, my cheek so swollen I can barely open my mouth to drink. I filled in a two-page form only to find out there is no dentist and they can’t help me. The lady at the reception explained I should call 111 and see if there’s a dentist still available somewhere in London. When I received the call, I found out there’s no dentist in Lambeth (and they have to do it by area) who could take me in.
Crying from pain, the receptionist decided to take me in the emergency. What a win! I filled out another form with another lady and finally took a seat in the emergency room. In less then three minutes, a nurse calls me and fills out another two page form with me. First I thought it was the doctor who would finally give me some stronger pain killers, but no such luck. Off I went to the emergency room full of people. Waiting time 3 hours.
Meanwhile, all kinds of thoughts are attacking me. Maybe this was all a bad idea. Perhaps I should’ve never agreed to such crazy thing. Who would fly to San Francisco for a book reading with no guarantee of success? What will everyone think of me if it never happens? And what if I don’t get better until tomorrow morning? Or what if I will need a dentist in the US and it will cost over $1,000? I was undecided whether to go or not.
When I saw no help was coming soon, I went home, made some ginger tea (helps with inflammation) and went to sleep. At about 12pm, one day before the flight, I called 111 and ask for a dentist. They say there is one in “my area” and I got an appointment in 50 minutes. Only when I had a look at the address, I saw it would take over an hour by train to get there.
I take an Uber and less than hour later I pay £20.60 for an “emergency treatment”. It consist of the doctor opening my mouth, checking on my tooth (“Yes, it is your wisdom tooth”), making me cry from pain, and prescribing me antibiotics. He tells me the tooth should get out. At this point I’m so exhausted that I don’t even care about getting the prescription. I take a bus home to get some more sleep.
By the evening, the piercing pain stops. I decide to pack my suitcase, but I’m still counting with the worse-case scenario. I make research of how much a dentist in San Francisco costs. Just a checkup without a treatment is $300.00. I insure myself for a £500.00 treatment and hope for the best. I go to sleep at 12am, knowing I’m going to make it, somehow.
On my book readings, I read a section from The Girl Who Wanted to Catch a Cloud in a Marmalade Jar where Plum the seagul asks Cheri what she’s up to. It goes like this:
“So, will you tell me what you’re doing here?” asked Plum. “You don’t look like one of those window-cleaners.”
“I’m going to catch a cloud in a marmalade jar,” replied Cheri.
“And where’s your jar?”
Sometimes, we make great plans and unforseen circumstances surprise us. But that doesn’t mean that dreams don’t come true. Circumstances are just another thing to deal with on the road to our destination. And it’s how you deal with them, not what the circumstances are.
So off I went to San Francisco and spoiler alert, the book reading happened. To be continued.