Since last Friday, life has taken an unforeseen turn. That evening, I got a severe toothache; I called the “emergency” number for health care, and was informed that they could give me an analgesic swab and little more before Monday. I’ve had worse pain, and though the prospect wasn’t pleasant, I settled in with ibuprofen to tough it out. On Monday, the conventional staff at the dental clinic were great and got me in straightaway. A quick diagnostic ex-ray, and then a decision to extract two teeth followed. I was scheduled for the procedure in mid-afternoon.

I went home more comfortable, thanks to a numbing shot, and then returned. They took my blood pressure and then everything went to hell. All forward progress toward pain-relief was stopped until they could figure out why my blood pressure was so high. The diagnosis was malignant hypertension. I’ve never even heard of it; it stopped my treatment in its tracks. Several hours later, I had a battery of tests, ekgs, and chest x-rays.

You feel way too grown up when you’re holding chest x-rays and ekg traces. Mostly, I’m okay. But I still have the damn toothache. And I will have it, until I can get my blood pressure down. That may take weeks. Pain sucks, but it’s better than a stroke or a heart attack. There’s good news on most fronts—no renal problems, no heart problems (other than the fact that it’s a bit large) and I have no major cholesterol problems, no diabetes, or anything else—just dangerously high blood pressure. Funny, I don’t feel that stressed. I wouldn’t have thought that things would have gone this way. I was pretty bummed out when we drove home.

I cheered up a bit when we drove through a huge crowd of anti-war protestors trying to pressure Senator Norm Coleman into changing his support of Bush’s policies. Today, I saw on the news that they paraded through his office carrying signs with the names of all the Minnesota soldiers that have died so far. I love this state. Excellent health care and liberal sympathies. People seem to genuinely care about ending suffering. Compared to the apathy of people in California and Arkansas (at least in my experience), it’s truly a relief.

Some things, like this damn toothache, just have to be endured. It may take a while to fix, but it will be over with before the war.