For the past 3 weeks, I have had excruciating jaw pain, to the point where I don’t even want to eat. Yawning has been completely out of the question and I have had to limit my smiling and talking on some days. I can’t even close my mouth all the way anymore, the inflammation is so bad. The doctor thinks I have been grinding my teeth and, given how sore my teeth are now, I definitely think that’s what it is. Or, you know, like everything else on WebMd, its brain cancer.
BUT. Am I THAT stressed out? Aside from the depression that’s slowly creeping in from being trapped in this cabin for 5 weeks (more on this later), I don’t feel too stressed. But this pain…yo! It needs to be solved ASAP.
The other day my boss decided she needed a day off so I tagged along to town with the Kube Yini reserve manager to take someone to the doctor. While we waited, I asked him to take me to buy a mouth guard for while I sleep and some pain meds. He encouraged me to speak with a pharmacist first before making any decisions about what I would buy.
My conversation with the pharmacist:
Me: Hi, I am having terrible pain here, along my jaw. I saw a doctor who says I am grinding my teeth when I sleep, and I am hoping I can get a mouth guard and something for the pain.
Pharmacist: When is the last time you de-wormed?
Me: uhm…come again? **Looking around to make sure no one else heard that.
Pharmacist: Worms. When is the last time you de-wormed?
Me: …We don’t do that where I’m from. Explain?
Pharmacist: Grinding your teeth is a sign of worms. Where do you live?
Me: OOhhh…What? I live in the bush, and I do work in the community.
Pharmacist: Yes. Ok. Chew this tablet to kill the worms.
Me: Ok…? Thank you. *Takes pill and walks away speechless.
I never thought I would ever say this in my entire life, but
DEAR 8 POUND 6 OUNCE BABY JESUS, PLEASE LET ME HAVE WORMS!!
If my problem can be solved with one chewable tablet…Hell. Yes. I did get a mouth guard and pain killers just in case, too. But please, please let it be worms!
I do walk around the community in my sandals where the space is shared with animals. Sometimes when I do home visits I sit on the ground amongst some droppings while chickens and goats pick at the grass by my feet (Which I am completely fine with!). But, it makes sense that I’d have some slimy friends dancing around my intestines. Apparently people who live here full-time de-worm every few months. Who knew!?
Despite this new experience, I am loving it here. I only wish I could stay longer. When you travel you really get close to people quickly – the right people – and I know my relationship with Mandisa is really special. It is sometimes difficult to really click with someone from a completely different culture, which can make traveling lonely. But Mandisa and I… we finish each other’s thoughts, send jinx texts, and joke like sisters who have grown up together. She told me her fiancé, Thokhozani, said to her “I have noticed a big change in you, you seem very happy” and her response was “I just love being friends with Ati”. She calls me Ati and I love it. I love her. I love everyone. I love the space. I love the beauty. I love how free my soul feels.