Here’s how it all went down yesterday. After 24 hours of excruciating nerve pain (a “twelve” on a scale of one to ten), I was fortunate enough to be seen by a student dentist as an “acute” patient at our local dental school. First call to school: “I’m sorry we’re booked,” said the male receptionist. Second call to school (amidst my sobbing) to female receptionist: “Can you come NOW?”
Ding, ding, ding—your answer is absolutely correct I think to myself! Good woman, she was!
So I get in. I fill out my health history which hasn’t changed—all 4 pages in pica 2 print. I am introduced to my practicing dentist to be. Okay, so she hasn’t passed her boards. I like her anyway. She sets my heart at ease. I’m a practicing writer who can relate to the years of free work and time you put in practicing. I’m okay. No, I’m actually excited she is the one who will have the honor of piercing my gums to extract my roots.
X-rays are taken–multiple times. The drilling starts. Obliterated is the build-up my student from last year so artfully crafted to look like a real tooth, so I wouldn’t have to purchase yet another crown. First this build-up is bored out with a standard drill for about 25 minutes or so. Then for the best part:
The burr drill, or what I affectionately call the Jack Hammer drill, dives deeper still. This one has a low-toned grumbly noise. Imagine your mouth being an airplane and you are coming in without your landing gear with mouth open wide onto a runway of rocky gravel. That’s what it sounds and feels like.
I can’t taste anything because I’m resisting choking to death on the saliva that pools up underneath the rubber dam stretched over my mouth, stretched tight and pinched by two plastic walls on the sides. I fight anxiety as I remember if I don’t breathe through my nose, life could cease and I wouldn’t be able to articulate this phenomenon to anyone.
I try and think happy thoughts and inwardly chastise myself for forgetting my IPOD which is my drug of choice during routine root canals. I try to stop overhearing the conversation in the bay beside me where the patient is complaining about the smell of her tooth’s infection.
More drilling ensues. A team of curious students finished with their rounds has now gathered to rubberneck. A light that refuses to stay planted causes the assistant to mutter under her breath as it swings slightly above me. A tray of instruments crashes to the floor. Oops!
The dental teacher comes in. More drilling. We’ve been going strong for about an hour and a half at this point. She pulls out what can only be described as push-pins that belong in the fabric tomatoes of our grandmothers. Long skinny needle-like creatures with colorful round button heads hover hungrily overhead.
How are you today dear? Plunge! I close my eyes.
“Urrrggghhh iiiiii,” I say. Translation: Just fine. This is the correct answer if you have long needles being put into your oral cavities by strange people. This is not the time to be defiant or non-compliant.
The dentist adjusts her loops. These are little micro zoom lenses, about an inch long attached to her regular glasses. Some are clear, some are white, and some glow a brilliant orange.
Keep thinking happy thoughts Liz. Go to your “happy place” now!
“Well dear! You have anatomy that defies all textbook cases of standard anatomy that I have ever seen,” she says in a heavy Russian accent. “You have deviant roots. You will be referred to a grad student. Amy (name has been changed), you close her up and send her home and explain all this to patient.” (I think she just did).
Yeah? Good thing you’re not a neurosurgeon or psychologist analyzing my brain I think. There is no telling what deviations from and aberrations of normalcy you may find lurking there!
So with rubber dam firmly in place, purposely restricting all my questions, I patiently wait until my tooth is temporarily filled and dam is finally removed. A torrent of saliva spills forward like Niagara Falls. Freedom!!!
“Tho, what doth thith mean?” I hesitantly ask my student dentist.
And here is what I learned: My roots deviate from standard anatomy. Most tooth roots grow up straight and branch out slightly.
No, I have deviant roots. Apparently they start out separate, converge in the middle, and twist a little as they go out their separate ways. They run amok and they run deep. They make drilling hard, if not impossible. Hmmmm….this is so apropos of a life lesson I’m sure, if I could just wrap my head around it.
Unfortunately for me, and my student, someone with more experience will have to complete the job. After Christmas. After our scheduled Disney trip in two days that we waited for seven years to go as a complete family.
But will I be in pain?” I inquire—this, my one burning question. The one I exceeded all speeding laws to get here to have answered. “Will this ruin my trip?”
Answer? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Kind of like life, huh! Are you going to have pain sometimes? Yep! So? Are you going to let it ruin your trip?
And though I’ve not only graduated from Murphy’s Law school (after being held back and “repeated” a few times), I currently serve in the role of an advisory position. I can now advise others with full unsolicited non-restraint who may find themselves seated in the front row of such a scary place.
My advice? Relax. Keep your chin up. Because as we know, Murphy was indeed an optimist (O’Toole’s Commentary). Things could always be worse.
May you be able to laugh today and find the beam of sunshine meant just for you!
Quotes taken from this excellent blog site regarding Murphy’s Law and other law that may be guiding you today: http://www.fraserlandia.com/murphy2.html