Friday, May 25, 2007
more thoughts from the dentist's chair
So today I went to this specialist to have my root canal done. As I have explained before, I am not put into a state of panic or dread about the concept of a root canal. The price is not a happy thing, even with insurance, but the procedure itself isn't a source of dread for me. I've had two to date. Bad was the one wisdom tooth I've had extracted because it took two hours and screwed up my lower lip for weeks. (I still have the other three wisdom teeth. Two never descended but they show up in x-rays -- see the left part of the previous entry's image for one of them; one has been just sitting there halfway through the gum, not moving or getting a cavity for the last 20 years.) Anyhow. I found the doctor's office, which was across the street from a Target [which DOES sell two-packs of AAA's and offers Energizer e² pairs for a dollar less than K-mart], and got there about half an hour early in case of paperwork or insurance nonsense. I was seated rather quickly. My hygienist told me that in a short time this office will be moving into the same building as my regular dentist, and "if you would have waited 3 months you wouldn't have had to travel." I replied that if I'd waited 3 months, there wouldn't have been an issue to see her about because the tooth would be gone.
It's about 1pm and I'm getting shot up with Novacaine. Out comes the temporary filling. In goes the clamp and dental dam that my own dentist couldn't seem to install. The chair is tipped back so far that my head is lower than my heart, and for that matter lower than my salivary glands... I know I'm going to be gargling in my own spit and anything else that comes that way. Work begins with those little voodoo doll pins to dig out my roots and work whatever magic they do in the far recesses of one's dentine. I'm hanging in there just fine.
Then at some point, whatever substance that she is using on my tooth gets under the dental dam and to the back of my throat, into my nasal passages (though not down my throat, gravity is not allowing this). My mind slipped back to the time I came home from kindergarten when I was about six to be told that my eighteen month old sister had drank some bleach and needed her stomach pumped. (Becky was born with a gastrointestinal problems, requiring surgery when she was 6 weeks old, so this didn't help matters any.) It felt and tasted like she had douched that tooth, and thus my septum, with Clorox. This didn't please me. It didn't please me much more the next two times it happened, though those seemed less severe. This part of the procedure was finally complete, and we could continue on with the scraping and filling portion of the program.
The doctor asked me where I'm originally from. I looked at her through the tinted glasses (with my "lady, you're crazy" look) and went "uh-uh-uh-uh" to remind her I have a dental dam across 4/5 of my mouth preventing proper pronunciation. She said it'd be okay if I tried to tell her, so I thought "okay, you were warned" and attempted once to say 'Toppenish', which as you can guess came out as "tah-uh-nah." Ten seconds of silence on her part as the attempted to process this. And she developed, "California?" My reply of "no" was unmistakeable. The rest of the conversation, I wasn't a part of. I was spacing off looking at the ceiling/blinding lamp while thinking about Jordin Sparks, a series of dreams I've been having about being a private eye, whether I can still breathe, and whatever put me in my 'happy place'. The dentist and the hygienist were conversing about gifts, their sons, and speaking in code about my mouth -- those numbers and acronyms dental miracle workers use, most of which described those voodoo doll pins as far as I could tell. White rods are being inserted into my roots, and I'm told a couple times that we're only a short distance away from closing up and being done.
Nothing is ever as simple as that. She makes it through three of the roots and all is going swimmingly, but the fourth has an artery that needs to be tamed before we can procede. She digs at it and goes away for five minutes. Hmm, still there. She does a few other things in the tooth to kill time. No change. She digs at it some more and goes away for ten minutes. My dental dam breaks because frankly I have to cough up some Clorox. She comes back, sets back into the mouth-mining, and is hammering away with the voodoo picks. It's been two hours so the Novacaine is wearing off. Primordal concern comes to my brain and I'm trying to maintain my place on the food pyramid. I alert her to this increasingly painful fact, and she hits me with more anaesthetic... ahh. Back to the digging. I'm still bleeding, so she says that she can't finish the job until that's taken care of. She packs the tooth with cotton and lays a patch, cajoles me out of the chair (remember, my head has been below my heart for hours so I'm not quite in balance -- and I've got a remarkably deep groove from the tail of my shirt in the small of my back), and has me go to the window to schedule another appointment for the same bat-time and same bat-channel next week, plus hang tight while she writes a prescription for Vicodin because she doesn't take me at my word that I'll be fine with Tylenol. (And I am doing fine with Tylenol. I refuse to get that prescription filled because I have an in-law who "collects" Vicodin, and I have no intention of doing her any favors.) I regain enough of my bearings that I think I can drive, and cross the street to Target to browse and finish the restoration of my senses, plus more importantly get a $20 for gasoline with whatever I purchase.
Does Target have Series 3 of the Cube World toys yet? Nope, dammit. But right nearby are deep-scarlet-purple (officially listed as "pink") Tiger Electronics Massively Mini Media MP3/radio/video players for $22, which I know still retail for $30-$70 in most places so I bought one for myself as a survival reward. 128mb which will hold an hour's worth of AMV-format video or two hours of 128kbps MP3s, 1.1" (96x64) display, Li-ion battery charged via the computer's USB which has a comparatively short life but it's still twice as long as the memory's contents (2 hours for video or 4 hours for music), decent quality earbuds and plausible video (if you don't mind staring at your thumbnail), rediculously small, good FM reception, and the price is right. It's been marketted to 'tweeners so all the free video the manufacturer offers on its site came from Nickelodeon. I was hungry as hell. I've never claimed to be very bright (just quite intelligent) so I didn't eat anything before my appointment; it's now 4pm which means I haven't had solid food in at least eighteen hours. Say what you will about going from a root canal to this sort of fare, but what I hankered for and proceded to consume was a half-pound bag of peanut M&M's and a bottle of Ruby Red Squirt. Then I went home and figured out how to rip that Paragon of Comedy DVD I bought online last week into AMV format so I could watch it on the little player. There were a bunch of stupidities I saw between the doctor's office and home but they slip my mind now. I assure you they were stupid.
So the dental saga is not done and won't be for two to four weeks, since my appointment is on the last day of my 'weekend' so I can't get a crown until my next day off and/or my next non-mortgage-dedicated paycheck. I am looking forward to season six of "Last Comic Standing" to begin in mid-June, now that "American Idol" has ended another season. I predict Blake will sell more albums than Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks combined. Do not attempt the mental image of Clay and Taylor "combining", please. I also predict that Kelly Clarkson's new song will be really popular after someone else sings it -- some chick with balls, like Joan Jett, Pat Benetar, fellow winner Carrie Underwood, fellow contestant Gina Glocksen... or Meatloaf. Bill Bellamy should be a lot more fun of a LCS host than Anthony Clark since he actually is funny. And speaking of potentially funny, the June update to Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul has been posted.
"Don't squat on the ding-a-ling! Don't squat on the ding-a-ling!" -- CB Trucker as The Incomprehensible Mortgage, Washington Mutual radio advertisement
I hope your car can last without needing that horribly expensive repair. Sitting around for hours like that is pure hell - and they ALWAYS find something wrong with the car.... ALWAYS.
I'm more concerned about the mechanic down the street who offers cheap oil changes finding stuff wrong with the car (since they always do, even if the car is brand new or you just had the part they say is worn out replaced two months ago by them) than my dealer. My dealer just replaces a bunch of stuff that works fine then tells you if they found anything else they can charge you for.
Hopefully my delay in getting cavities fixed won't result in another such treatment.