Once I was seated, Dr. Haley, who is a very forthright individual, said that she was going to fill the cavities and remove my Maryland bridge. I hedged and said that perhaps we should postpone the bridge removal until after I got back from California. She said no, it needed to come off NOW, in a tone of voice that indicated that this was the plan, and that we were not going to deviate from this plan.
My dental history is now very checkered. There’s the work that’s been done in the distant past. And there’s the work that’s been done most recently. I’m losing sight of the distant work – the who did what, when. And I’m already losing sight of the recent work, the who did what, this morning. I wish that I could recall every detail, because while this is of little interest to others, it’s important to me.
The best I can do at this particular moment in time is to go back a short ways, and bring now fading salient details back to mind.
The big picture: I was in the dental chair for approximately 2.5 hours. There were a few breaks, but not many. I encouraged Dr. Haley to keep working because I didn’t want this ordeal to go on indefinitely. 2.5 hours. This is equivalent to the amount of time it takes for a good runner to complete a marathon. After, like a good marathon runner, I was tired, drawn, spent. However, I felt victorious. The feeling was akin to having stayed the course. A lesser person would have said “enough!” after an hour. But no, I encouraged Dr. Haley and her assistant to continue to do what needed to be done.
As for the small picture – there I was, sunglasses in place. The overhead light had a mirror-like area at it’s center, so I could see (sort of)what was going on. I averted my eyes when I saw red, was coincidently told that my gums were bleeding quite a bit.
The dentist first did the filling work, starting by working on two cavities in my upper left side jaw. I first was given a shot of Novocain. She put some kind of clamp thing around one tooth prior to drilling. I raised my hand because I felt some pain. She gave me a second shot, then resumed drilling. She drilled on two teeth, then filled them.
There was some talk about bicycling. During a brief break I told Dr. Haley and Diana, her assistant, that I’d bicycled across the country, twice. This lead to considerable talk on their parts about this. I wanted to join in, but instead had to remain an, ahem, active listener.
It was déjà vu all over again as the dentist moved on, and then began working on a cavity in my lower left hand jaw. First, more Novocain. Then the dentist went over to examine another patient, leaving her assistant Diana to put some string around the tooth. She tamped it down. I felt like I was a garden plant. By now, I knew the drill, no pun intended.
There was a brief break. I listened in as a high schooler was told that by the dentist that he had to have wisdom teeth removed. I felt for him. No one wants to get this kind of news. I spent the first 14 years of my life dreading my having to endure this kind of thing. When I get depressed, I bring the very fact that I was born without wisdom teeth to mind.
The dentist then began the process of removing the Maryland Bridge, which was located in my right lower jaw. She began work on it by using a tool that bumped around a lot. It was then that I made a comparison to the work currently being done on the Glenn Highway. Really, this was the same thing, but only on a smaller scale. Ratta tat tat, out with the old, using jackhammers and picks. I felt the metal bits that held the tooth in place fly about – they made clanking and pinging sounds. Diana sucked them out with the tube, and repeatedly rinsed out my mouth.
I figured that once the bridge was out, that Dr. Haley would indicate that we were done. But no, she elected to fill the small cavity that was located in the rear right molar, on the inside. I was glad she did this, because for some time I’d been feeling discomfort in this area.
I knew this was the grande finale – akin to coming down in a plane after a long flight, so I relaxed, and as I’d done all along, focused on my breathing. Finally, Dr. Haley said that we were done.
By now you the reader have either moved on, or your eyes are glazed over. If you have moved on my having told you that I appreciate your having read this is a moot point. If you are still with me, I have to say thanks for having elected to stick this one out. The best of writers are able to assist their readers in suspending disbelief. Of course, no one wants to go to the dentist, even when they really have to. Anyhow, I really value your attentiveness. You’re having read the above is an indication that my story brought to mind your own dental history. Self-similarities are the main reason behind out telling our stories to one another. What they do is create connections.
I will not disappoint, by leaving you hanging. After the work was done, I felt drained, and my lower jaw and tongue muscles were numb. I was of course not able to fully comprehend the ins and outs involved in what was to be done next, or what the insurance particulars will be. But from what I understand, it ain’t over yet. I’ll need to have three crowns and a bridge or implant put in place.
This is an instance in which I would do best by living for the moment. There are more dental appointments in my future. For better, for now, to put what’s ahead, out of sight, out of mind.
Next: 115. 5/2/15: And Down