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The Physical Shinn (Prior)

Last update: July 9, 2023

The John Shinnick Website

The Physical Shin (Prior)

Bad News in My Mouth and on My Walk


This month I have two observations about my health, neither concerning my heart (which, by the way, is currently beating quite properly ~ the last round of afibbing lasted only two days) so I'm thankful of that. First, nothing puts other maladies out of one’s mind like a good toothache. Actually, that’s an oxymoron, “good toothache.” This one started about a week-and-a-half ago as a generalized ache in the upper left quadrant of my mouth. I waited this one out and it went away after a few minutes.


It returned about a day later, with renewed vigor. This time it didn’t seem to want to go away. I reached for my bottle of Ibuprofen. There was a problem – I’d forgotten the dosage, and it wasn’t on the bottle! Fortunately, I’d kept the bottle in the small box that it came in, and this is where the dose (one for those 12 and up) was displayed. But what if I hadn’t kept the box? The next day I called the manufacturer to recommend they find space on the bottle for the dose.


I have since had two more episodes in which I needed Ibuprofen to ease the pain. A little perspective, I’d guess that I usually dip into such medicine maybe twice a year (except after surgery of some sort when a doctor tells me to take something) so this pain was pretty bad. Further, the pain was becoming less generalized. Something was definitely up. I came to this conclusion on June 29, a Thursday. What a way to start the second half of the year. But it was evening, and my dentist would be out until Wednesday, July 5.


Fortunately, I only had one ibuprofen-level bout of pain in the interim. That Wednesday, I called the office and I was given an appointment for the next day at 11:30. By now, the aches were pretty much gone, but if I put my teeth together with any force, OUCH! It was the third upper left molar from the end. “13” in dentist-speak. X-rays were taken, then Dr. Mendoza, my dentist for many years now, started his exam. I actually was late paying his last bill. I had the money, it just got missed, and I’d gotten the check to him early the previous week. Never owe your dentist money when he’s about to put sharp objects in your mouth! Anyway, he was his usual gentle self, with a tap-tap here and a tap-tap there, here a tap, there a OUCH! So Tuesday next week I’ll see my endodontist. Root canal, here I come. 


The other medical observation concerns a set of maladies I do NOT have, that is the ones that are triggered by smoking. As I’ve said before, I try to take a two mile walk generally five or six days a week. On these walks, I carry a paper bag and pick up litter along the way. Multi-tasking at its best.

My trash bag. It seems to be filled with too many cigarette butts lately.

One oddity that I’ve noticed, having done this for several years now, is that cigarette butts seem to go in cycles. The last two days, I’ve noticed a decided surge in the number of these little suckers. I found a Starbucks coffee cup with the lid on, that felt about half full of coffee. I’ve found a fair number of these through the years, and I empty them before putting them in my bag. Very little liquid was coming out of this one, however. When I took the lid off, I found that it was filled about half-way up with cigarette butts. My guess is that it was probably a work crew cleaning up after itself thank you very much.


But even discounting this coffee cup, it was still a heavy day. Another thing I’ve noticed is that there has been lots of construction and other work crews of varying types. My guess is that these are the sources of much of the increase.


It’s a shame. I blame cigarettes in part for the early death of my father. I tried smoking for about two weeks in high school. I hated the smell it left on my fingertips and gave it up – looking cool just wasn’t worth it. But more importantly, the Public Service Announcements, mandated warnings on cigarette packages, increased cigarette taxes, and the dissemination of court rulings against the tobacco industry seemed to have the industry on the run. It was too late to convince my father to even attempt quitting. He died in 1970 when U.S. per capita cigarette smoking peaked at over 4,000 per year. It’s steadily declined to just a little over 1,000 today, with the trend continuing.


So what are all those butts doing on my neighborhood streets? Hmmm.

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