Friday, January 8, 2016

"Oceanic Wisdom" AKA (Read With Sonorous Solemnity) "A Rendezvous With Dentistry"

When I’m, as Carole King famously put in in “You’ve Got A Friend”, “down and troubled”, I immediately head for the ocean.

What do I get there?                                    

Stability and perspective.

The ocean is the old Indian. 

It has been there forever, and has seen it all.

Plus, there is an invisible band there that sings to me. 

(The same ensemble that serenades me from the mountaintop at this fitness place we go to in Mexico.  Or a band that fills in when the original invisible band is busy.)

I go straight to the ocean after the announcement that “Mr. Wisdom Tooth”, Upper Right, which has been with me from the outset (at least of my “Big” teeth) would soon be exiting the premises.  If you know a tooth looking for a home, let them know that, come Monday, there will be a vacancy in my mouth.

Either I will tell you about it, or I won’t.  There is little hilarity in “Ow!”  So we’ll see.

(I just flashed on those rich folks who paid people to fight in their place during the Civil War.  I wonder if there is a similar arrangement for tooth extractions.  I’ll go as high as thirty-eight dollars.  Plus an Israel Bond that I forgot to cash in.)

As always, the venerable ocean comes through for me. 

Already knowing what I am there for, the ocean is ready with a song to remind me, without dismissing my trepidations, that things could comparatively be considerably worse. 

Their original ditty, situating my impending “unhappiness” on a “One-to-Ten” scale of “How Bad Is This Really?’” went like this:


“It’s just a ‘Four’
And that’s for sure

Yes it’s a bore

A nasty chore

But nothing more

It’s just a ‘Four’.”

The song lifts my spirits immediately. 

Because it’s true. 

Tooth extraction ranks very high on my “I Would Much Rather Be Somewhere Else” list.  But in the grand theme of things you want nothing to do with, it is in fact, and I have to acknowledge it,

Just a “Four.”

And nothing more.
Bolstered by this musical “Pep Talk”, I set off to meet my oral surgeon, recommended by my dentist – who packed my departing tooth with a temporary filling – with the words, “Here’s how highly recommend this man:  I send my children to him.”

Meeting the oral surgeon made me wonder how much my dentist actually liked his children.

Dr. S was in no way a hateful person.  Not hostile or grumpy or sadistic.

The man was calm, and I am sure, capable.  He was also candid, cautious, clinical conservative and conscientious. 

And that’s just the “C’s.”

The “C” he was not, unfortunately, was


With every response to my questions Dr. S increases my anxiety level, the mounting “bad news” elevating ultimately to the hysterical, in both senses of the word.

Me:  “I was thinking of getting it out before our trip to Hawaii.”

Dr. S:  “You would not be able to go swimming.  Because of the bacteria in the water.”

“Then I’ll make an appointment for after.”

“Okay, but your temporary filling could fall out tomorrow.”

“Can I be asleep for this procedure?”

“I am hesitant because of your heart surgery.”

“Is there any chance of nerve damage?

“The biggest problem is your sinuses.  When the roots are too long, there can be drainage problems.  If there are, we have to go back in and plug it up.”

“What will the recovery process be like?”

“I cannot say it will be painless.  But you should feel better in a week, or so.”

“I guess I’ll eat through a straw.”

“No straw!” 

“The tooth feels okay.  That’s at good sign, isn’t it?”

“It is possible the root is dead.”

At this point, there was a distinct moaning in the room.  And it was not coming from Dr. S.

Before I depart, he hits me with one final tidbit.

“By the way, looking at your x-rays?  I am also worried about another tooth.”

I did not permit him to elaborate.  By then, the top of my skull was beginning to detach and was headed for “Lift-Off.” 

I am standing at the elevator, my hand shaking as I press the button, and not just because I am afraid of elevators.  I hear the song reverberating in my consciousness, but now it’s quieter and more plaintive.  

“It’s just a ‘Four’ 

And that’s for sure…”

I may well need another visit to the ocean.

“So long, folks.”

That was my wisdom tooth talking.

As for me, well…

I will talk to you later.


1 comment:

Marathon Man said...

Before you jump, here's my wisdom teeth extraction story. I was approx. 40, when one of them started to revolt. My dentist referred me to an oral surgeon who recommended that all of them come out because obviously, he had several children of college age. So I foolishly agreed. Part of his convincing argument was "I have laughing gas." So he embalmed my mouth with Novocain, then hit me with the nitrous, lots of nitrous. I began hallucinating that his dental assistant was the one doing the extractions, and I must say, she did a fine job. It was quite an experience. I don't recall having any problems, some soreness but no pain while the excavated area healed. As a smoker (at that time) I ignored his advice that I don't smoke as that would likely lead to dry socket(s). No problem.

Get the gas and enjoy the day dreams!