I've got a painful tooth today. ‘Sensitive’ I think they call it in the adverts. When I ran my tongue across it this morning it sent sharp, painful frissons along the surface. I'm getting to the tipping-point now, when illness and affliction become a daily constant rather than a periodical inconvenience. It’s a land inhabited by older people. When you ask the elderly how they are there is usually a list. And if you're not careful they'll go into detail. “Oh really?” I say, my mind deciding instead to freewheel down another avenue.
Personally I have become used not to talking about illness. Having lived with serious illness in someone close to me over the last few years it has frequently been the last thing I wanted to do. Sometimes though, I really did want to and couldn't. I suppose that's what separates the serious from the mundane. If you end up talking about it, its usually something minor. Have you noticed how nobody ever asks you how you are when it actually matters? The worse the illness the less likely people are to want to know. But when it comes to minor ailments like a sneeze, the world rushes to offer you their blessing.
My teeth, anyway. I suppose they are serving me right. I haven't always looked after them as well as I could. I haven’t visited the dentist often and when I have it has usually led to wrenching and uprooting and filling and injecting. My wife complains about my ‘gappy’ teeth. But actually the most obvious of those gaps - the one at the front - has gradually closed over the years. I still have a milk tooth too, which has done very well to keep going. I don't think it does much, crenellated between its younger siblings either side. But I appreciate it hanging around. It’s another symptom of my lack of oral conscientiousness and the result of a missed appointment when I was sixteen and didn’t care. It’s ok though, since I don’t smile much. Or perhaps that’s why I don’t smile much. In the future I'm expecting a lot more rebellion in various body parts, particularly from my teeth. But in the meantime I'll try to enjoy all my faculties, as my daughter does, unquestioningly. She didn't notice that illness surrounded her in her early years and continues to smile and a sing determinedly.
I'm looking particularly healthy at the moment in fact, due to a tan acquired in the normal course of life-not-in-an-office, something which I am pleased to report office-bound types find extremely galling.