Jun 062011

I am less of a man than I was yesterday. A little piece of me is missing, gone forever. I may even be a little less wise. This morning I had a wisdom tooth taken out, something I had put off for several months.

I paid for my tardiness. On Friday, a small piece of the tooth broke off. The next day what seemed like eight ounces of filling dropped out. That was a blessing in some way because the jagged edge was rubbing against the inside of my cheek.

Pain did not automatically set in but I knew that I was living on a knife edge. Better to act than wait for excruciating pain to occur.

Why did not I get it tended to sooner? My logic goes like this — booking an appointment for an extraction is like standing in front of a firing squad and then giving the order to fire. Who in their right mind would do that?

I called an oral surgeon in Riverside this morning and was told that I could be seen at 11 o’clock and to arrive at 10:45 to complete the paper work.

I duly arrived at the appointed time but the oral surgeon did not keep his side of the bargain. It was 11:40 before my name was called. Appointment times certainly aren’t what they used to be.

I notice a lot of things in America are posted as starting at some particular time or other but they seldom do. A concert by Jacksonville Ballet a few weeks back was supposed to start at 7:00 pm. Well that is what was written on the programme. At 7:15 the proceedings got under way. When I expressed my frustration that nothing had started at the designated time, and that nothing in America starts at the designated time, a woman sitting in front of me burst out laughing, turned round and said: “Ain’t that the truth.”

The dental assistant was a bouncy kind of a woman, bright and cheerful — just the kind of person to put you at ease as you walk into the torture chamber.  Sorry, I meant surgery.

She applied the pina colada flavoured numbing cream. It’s a pity it didn’t contain a generous tot of rum. Moments later the oral surgeon appeared — a thick set jovial man originally from New York. He asked me how long I had been in the United States and was surprised that I had retained my English accent. An English accent is not something that fades after 11 years — it is there for life.

He administered the anaesthetic and left the room.  The  roof of my mouth eventually became dry, to the point where I could feel every ridge and groove with my tongue.

The oral surgeon reappeared. I was rather glad he was well-built because I figured it would take a fair bit of strength to dislodge the tooth. He approached, I opened wide. He gave one short tug; re-affixed the forceps and gave another tug and it was all over.

The dental assistant placed a piece of gauze into the gaping hole and told me to bite down. She then reamed the various dos and don’ts that I had to follow in the course of the next few hours and days.

“No smoking for 24 hours,” she said.

Like a poor ventriloquist, minus a dummy, I replied through clenched teeth, “No guckin’ chance.”

The dental assistant laughed out loud. I told you she was a good sport. I probably made her day and became the subject of lunchtime conversation with the rest of the staff.

So now I have the aftercare to contend with. As yet I have not had to resort to the painkillers. I have taken the first of the course of antibiotics. My cups of coffee have been drunk cold but then again I make a cup of coffee last two hours so that is no great imposition. And true to my word, cigarettes have been consumed.

I know, I am incorrigible.

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