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December 30, 2015: The Tongue Returns to the Aching Tooth

I had always presumed that the above quote was by Chaucer. This is because Peter Elbow, the writing specialist, used it as a quote in his book of essays entitled Embracing Contraries. Elbow had studied Chaucer in working on his Master’s degree – so his claim seemed to be reputable. I now am wondering. I looked high and low, but Chaucer may not have said this.

This may be a moot point because the quote is at least in my mind quite relevant, source attribution correct or incorrect. Literally, the tongue returns to the aching tooth. Figuratively the mind repeatedly returns to the thought, again and again.

I am going with this quote because it has been somewhat applicable to my situation. I wanted to use it the day before yesterday, in writing about my dental-related apprehension. But the tongue was not then returning to the aching tooth. This is because the tooth was not then that sore. But I was obsessing about the prospect of having the tooth pulled.

Now the tongue is returning to where the tooth once was. And I am no longer obsessing about having it pulled. Rather, I am now recollecting what having it pulled was like. Post obsession. On all fronts, good enough.

Beforehand, having the tooth removed was all I could think about. This was after the endodontists gave me the good and the bad news. Yesterday was the Big Day. Early on, Pete and I dropped Rainbow off at the veterinary clinic – she was having bowel problems. Then we went to Feldenkrais class. After, we went to Costco, then the tack shop, then to the Carhartt Store. All I could do was go through the motions of being at these places.

Later, I had to deal. Found the dentist’s office. Walked into office. Greeted the receptionist. Filled out forms. Read my book. Looked up when my name was called. Followed assistant into the surgical area. Sat in dental chair. Allowed assistant, named Nikki, to hook me up to heart and blood pressure monitors. Nicki was young, thirtyish, dressed casually, empathetic. Kept asking if I had any questions. Seemed to set my mind at ease.

The dentist entered the room. Dr. Shlutz was also kind, thoughtful, and additionally as handsome as all get out. He told me that there might be a complication when he removed the tooth, being cracked, it might also be brittle. And being brittle, it also might be fragmented. In addition, there might be an opening into the sinus cavity. I said “oh oh, that might not be good.” I then asked if possible complications might entail more than one visit. He said no.

Dentist also said that I’d be under light sedation – that I’d, in fact, be able to respond to questions. I said that I was glad that I didn’t know about this beforehand, because the prospect of my being conscious for what was to come was unnerving. What I did not add was that I did not want an in-body out-of-body experience.

The chair was tilted back and I began to fade. I began, as I went into a state of semi-consciousness, to sense that everything was going to work out just fine. This was the first time in months that I felt this way.

I came to after the tooth was removed and the stitches were in place. I don’t recall this, nor do I recall putting on my sweater. I don’t recall being in a recovery room, nor do I recall sitting in a wheelchair. And I don’t recall being wheeled to our truck. I did, on the drive home, realize that the tooth had been extracted. I had a wad of gauze in my mouth, where the tooth used to be. I was also very thirsty, had not been able to drink for nine hours.

We picked up the dog then drove to the pharmacy where Pete picked up the special mouthwash and Percocet/oxycodone. We drove home. Pete made me a lentil soup smoothie for dinner. Was excellent.

I was so excited about having the extraction behind me that I could not sleep. I was also excited about the fact that the tooth didn’t hurt and it did not bleed. This, though yes, the tooth broke as it was being removed. As I did not realize then but realized as I lay in bed, was that had the dentist have to dig around, I would have been in more pain afterwards. It was then that the tongue did begin to return to where the tooth used to be. The exploration was and remains gradual.

There may be more exploration. I am going to somehow have to fill the gap. I have crowns on adjoining teeth so I don’t know if I am eligible (what a strange word, sounds like some kind of honor) for an implant. May end up with this and another bridge. If I am eligible for an implant, I’ll go back to the surgical center. And I won’t be as apprehensive because the people there are good at what they do. There was a strong ethos of caring. For this, I am grateful.

Next: 189. 12/31/15: End of the Year Wrap Up

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