The definition of anguish? Sitting in a car with your lower jaw full of pain, on the way to a hospital for a root canal.
The definition of serenity? Sitting in a car on your way back, root canal over, and realize that not only is the massive pain of the last few days completely gone; so is a low-key discomfort you've had for weeks without even realizing it.
After the successful root canal we felt like celebrating a little. This is Kumari Nepali Dining restaurant in Naha. It's a good place for lunch on a weekend.
I am immensely grateful for the existence of dentistry in general. I'm all for dental care in the abstract. And I know dentists are fine, upstanding people that do a world of good. But actually visiting a dentist is one of my least favorite activities of any kind.
Fortunately, modern dental treatments are far less uncomfortable than in my fevered imagination (or my distant childhood). My molar had gradually cracked under an old filling, infecting the root and finally killing it, at which point the infection spread to the lower jaw. I'd felt something was off for weeks at least (and, really, much longer). The acute pain probably started with the spread of the infection.
Makeman is the major local DIY chain on Okinawa. The logo and character is famous; enough that Americans apparently refer to it as "the monkey store".
As the tooth was already dead, the dentist could remove the filling and trace the cracks down through the tooth without even a pain killer. I only needed a shot to remove part of one root that was still not completely gone. Modern tools and techniques are really gentle, and his bedside manner was immaculate: he explained each step as he was doing it and paced the work just right. In the end I never experienced any actual pain, and my anxiety melted away within the first ten minutes.
And for all that people complain about facets of living in Japan, I've yet to meet somebody who doesn't appreciate how good and how inexpensive a dentist is here. Dental care is a normal part of the regular health care system. An examination, x-rays, CT-scan, medication, and the actual root canal the next day cost me a total of about 6000 yen. That's about 50 dollars or 460 Swedish crowns. I'm not complaining.
Naha at sunset. It's a picture of an upside-down reflection in a canal, flipped to look like a straight shot. It makes a neat effect.