Oil of Cloves

Yesterday afternoon I fended off an impending toothache. And thank goodness, because there's nothing like a toothache for pure torture.

Long ago in 2011, at the time of Superstorm Sandy, I experienced the very first toothache of my life. Running errands on Centre Street in the morning (I was entertaining that evening) I noticed a sort of odd pressure in my jaw. For awhile I thought nothing of it, but as the day progressed, it didn't go away. It became pronounced and persistent. And by the time my guests left in the evening, it had become a distraction. Eventually it drove all thought from my head. There was only pain.

Nothing I did was any use: ice, alcohol (topical or internal), rest, nothing. Sleep had been banished by Pain (I can just see that as an allegorical sculpture, Sleep Banished by Pain). For periods through the night I would pace the floors all over the house. The pressure was intense. I kept visualizing the top of my tooth popping off and its interior nerves springing out and waving around like Satanic snakes.

Eventually I remembered that oil of cloves was the only remedy for toothache, and that of course the nearby food co-op had a whole rack of herbal tinctures that must surely include said. How, you ask, would I have even learned this in the first place? Agatha Christie, dahling! The butler uses oil of cloves for a toothache in Murder on the Orient Express. See, reading IS fundamental . . .

I began counting the minutes until I could leave the house in time for them to open at 7 AM. I struggled into some clothes, fled the house, and made my sleepy, agonized way to the co-op. I must have been the first customer that day, and I was almost laser-like in my path to the tinctures.

And then - PANIC! THERE WAS NO OIL OF CLOVES! Practically in tears I asked a clerk, someone, anyone - PLEASE GOD IS THERE NO OIL OF CLOVES?! And Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, in the clearance basket there was ONE vial of oil of cloves left. I snatched it up, paid, and hurried home with my prize, my salvation.

Then came the matter of how to apply it, as I sort of remember it was an upper tooth aching. I ended up dripping a few drops of oil onto a cotton ball and chewing it, waiting for the blesséd relief.

Suddenly, there was no time to appreciate the absence of pain because I began sleeping IMMEDIATELY. Hours later I came to, with perhaps a dull throb to remind me of the most horrible pain.

Yesterday afternoon at the office I suddenly felt that now-unmistakable sensation shoot through a tooth. And when I got home I was able to nip it in the bud. I'm never going to go through that again.