For those who don’t experience it every day, it is hard to imagine how it can affect one’s life: tooth pain. I arrived in Europe half a year ago with tooth pain, and despite several visits to the dentist, I am still suffering. I have chronic tooth pain, for more than five years now.

I have only one wish for my fiftieth birthday: that the tooth pain is gone. It would maybe allow me to regain a little bit of focus and write something pretty. Today, I am 42 years old.

Every day I talk to myself: “pain, tooth-pain, pain, tooth-pain”. Every day I suffer and see the smiling face of the dentist “just take an Ibuprofen, sir”. Every day I remember how the dentist would take a quick look and simply confirm what I had just told them. I develop conspiracy theories about the Russian dentist who treated me ten years ago in Berlin, I become delusional.

The tooth pain has been the evil axis of my life, the core of my being for the last five years or so, it has deprived me of any meaningful focus on my writing. I can’t study or write anything substantial. Sometimes I write poetry (but not a consistent collection). I can’t enjoy significant periods of happiness. I have gone to bed almost hoping I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. It is my love and responsibility for my beautiful daughter alone that keeps me going.

But it is strange: living in a high-tech society where people “get their teeth done” where no-one seems to able to help you? Working like hell on a job that you hate, only to save up for a dental operation that apparently does not even exist?

I had plans you know: writing poetry that celebrates life, writing a lovely satirical update of Orwell for our times, participating in the philosophical debate about the organisation of society, helping the less fortunate – but who would I be kidding if I pretend I have the capacity to go along with it?

am tooth pain, and that is unlikely to change in the coming decade. I am not in agony all the time, but it ‘hits’ me every day, and just in the moment when I need to focus on things like taxes, clients, or contracts. It is debilitating, but also invisible.

I thought my readers have a right to know about this. Yes, it feels bad, but I am blessed with food, shelter and a healthy family.

If you wake up pain-free, please take a moment to think about those who are in pain or suffer from an invisible condition (including depression and other brain disorders) and didn’t get as lucky as I did. Please support them and their families with food and shelter.

Thank you.