This reminder card is on my keyboard right this very moment. I do NOT want to miss this appointment.
I'd like to say it was a perfectly good molar, to add drama to the opening of this post, but that would be a lie. It was a perfectly good tooth in terms of what little tooth was left. But I belong to the generation between the "let's pull them out and give you pretty dentures" approach and the "let's seal your teeth so you never get a cavity" approach to dentistry.
As such, and through no fault of their own, I'm sure (I have a sweet tooth. Obviously), previous dentists had reduced this molar to a ratio of roughly 90 percent mercury-infested filling to 10 percent God-given enamel. There was a little crack forming and every time I went to the dentist, we looked at it together as if it were a baby photo. Naked tooth lying on a bear rug. But this last time, there was something different.
Much like little babies do, the crack had grown by a fraction of a hair. Desiring to head off a future root canal, it was enough to make me book an appointment for a tooth-grinding session.
Dentists and (modern) dentistry do not make me squeamish, but something in the process does: Novocaine or any other -caine. I've told dentists I just don't like Novocaine and I've had their assistants chide me with a tsk and a "We don't use Novocaine, we use ____caine" as if I care what they use, I hate the stuff and why wasn't she sympathetically listening to me?
Also, have you ever had a male dental assistant? I have never had one. I've had male dentists and female dentists, but no male assistant or hygienist ever. I wonder if that's significant.
So I get to the appointment two and half weeks ago and I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I joke halfheartedly about how I am so nervous it is making me rude. I'm only saying this because I know I am being very rude. She has sympathy for me, but I fail to explain that the actual grinding of previously perfect tooth enamel is not the issue. Having people two inches from my face is more annoying than most dental work.
It's the NOVOCAINE! It isn't the needle, either. I don't care about needles. I watch people stick my arm and dig around trying to catch rolling veins, so I'm not making this up. It isn't the needle.
Although a dentist's needle does seem incredibly long ... like the needles in a cartoon. Just a thought.
So my dentist comes into the room and the assistant must have given him the secret, silent high sign that says, "We have a ticking time bomb here!" and he is soothing and calm. He gets out what looks like a .22 and shoves Novocaine (whatever) into my gum alongside the tooth.
This is new.
No needle holes to be sore afterward! He explains that he's just pushing the drugs into the area around the tooth. He does this twice. Huzzah! I leave an hour later with a temporary crown, no needle holes to interfere with my afternoon and the best news is that the Novocaine has already worn off by about 80%.
But that night, I can't stay asleep. The next night, I can't stay asleep. The following night, I drug myself to get some sleep. Finally, I call the dentist. They ask me to come in. I say, "Could it be a canker sore?" and he said, "No, it's an ulcer from the FREAKING NOVOCAINE BEING FORCED INTO YOUR GUMS." No, he didn't say that, but he could have. See, the act of pushing the evil drug into my gums caused enough pressure that the evil drug found a weak spot in my gum. It then blew a hole through my gum, which caused the tissue to cry out in pain, become inflamed and probably by now has eaten a hole into my jaw if the way I still feel is anything to judge.
Dr. Calm went on to say that this is not a common problem (of course not, leave it to me) and that all we can do is pour soothing potion over it and wait seven days.
The soothing potion, I suspect, is really just the liquid they put in your mouth while they are torturing your previously perfect, God-given enamel. It isn't, in fact, soothing. I'm still drugging myself to sleep, too.
Did I mention it has been two.and.a.half weeks? Of me in pain and drugging myself. Yesterday was the highest I've been during this whole Situation: Two Advil, Four Excedrin Migraine, half an Advil PM and two regular Advil.
I'm eager to go to the dentist today, but I have no idea what he will find when he pulls that temporary crown off. I shudder to think of it.
By way of mere coincidence, last night I dreamt that I was a surgeon. I was in an old hospital that looked like it had been a house. I was in surgery cutting someone open through skin and bone and feeling fine about it. My next surgery was a tooth extraction, though. I kept walking around the hospital visiting patients and stalling on my next patient. I told several people I was worried about the next surgery because I had never pulled a tooth before and I wasn't sure what angle to use.
My brain let me off easy. I woke up because I just couldn't go into surgery and pull that tooth. I wonder if that's significant.