Perils of the Medieval Age
When I was little I loved my pediatrician. Dr. Sandy Matthews was a white haired fellow with penchant for speaking his mind. The bonus of this character trait was that he would occasionally rate my opinions higher than those of my Mother. This was a rare event, and from my vantage point on the examining table it was an event I thoroughly enjoyed observing. “She is too young to shave her legs”, my Mother would state with conviction. “Oh, don’t be silly. No she’s not.”, came the astonishing professional reply. Needless to say, I loved Dr. Matthews and rather hated eventually growing too old to visit him.
My dentist, on the other hand, was not my favourite. His office was in a rambling old house on Peachtree Street with cavernous rooms, dark wooden floors and ceilings as high as church and he possessed the rather unfortunate name of Dr. Funkhouser. This moniker sounded entirely too much like a mad scientist to me particularly when combined with his small squinty stature, his crisp white coat and his tray of lethal-looking dental instruments. Who can possibly look upon those needle-sharp tools and not be unnerved?
I would approach each appointment with Dr. Funkhouser with as much trepidation as a child can muster, certain that this visit would be the visit he would find the dreaded cavity and therefore have the opportunity to use those brier-sharp weapons on me. I would sit in that strangely tilted chair with my little head held back, mouth open, eyes shut tight, with that bright interrogation light shining hot in my face and I would wait for the inevitable. But no luck for Dr. Funkhouser; he never found a cavity in my mouth. After the perilous experience was over he would instruct me to go to a large drawer in his desk and take a treat. Inside that drawer were lollypops and suckers, jawbreakers and gum - a smorgasbord of sugar that told me just how badly he hoped to find a cavity next time out. So I would avoid the candy entirely and choose a tiny puzzle instead. Then I would throw him a knowing look of triumph and leave as fast as I could. Terrified of that tray of dental instruments, so shiny and so sharp, I brushed and flossed religiously all through my cavity-free childhood.
Dentists will no doubt refute this assessment of their profession, but for someone as phobic about dentistry as myself, the whole thing does not seem to have progressed too far past the medieval age. As far as I’m concerned there might as well still be pigs on straw in the waiting rooms. Those instruments of torture are still on display, as polished and keenly honed as ever. And I am still, frankly, terrified. So when a diabolically dense peppercorn found the one weak spot in one of my upper back molars and cracked it decisively in two, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. What I did not expect was to hear that the tooth was beyond hope, would, in fact, need to be pulled and I would have to have an implant installed. I received this disturbing news after I had been given novocaine which, as you may know, involves injections in my mouth. Needles. In My Mouth. See what I mean? Medieval.
The removal of my tooth was a horrid experience, one I was not sufficiently prepared for, and one I shall not soon forget. No, I did not feel pain as I was numb up past my eyeballs. Instead I felt as though my head were collapsing in on itself, turning me inside out like a sock. I left my dentist’s office that day determined never to darken his door again. I would not get an implant. No. I would simply be minus one tooth. That wasn’t so awfully bad, was it? Who knows, I thought, maybe I can learn to squirt water out the side of my mouth like a clown and thus have a hilarious, albeit unexpected, party trick with which to entertain my friends and relations.
Of course cooler heads (namely The Songwriter’s) prevailed and last week saw the black letter day roll round. (The procedure was to involve, I was informed, even though I tried not to be, the placement of a steel post into my bone. Immediately, a mental picture of medieval torture flashed into my head and I asked not to be told anything further.) It was also the day when it was confirmed that one anxiety pill makes me relaxed but two knocks me clear into next week. The dentist recommended this dosage and he probably knew what he was doing because the two hour ordeal seemed like fifteen minutes to me. Upon returning home, I fell into bed and slept till morning at which time I was told by The Songwriter that Edward had pushed him right out of bed during the night in his utter insistence on keeping watch over me. The big white dog slept all night with his head on my tummy. Edward, who once broke his own back molar and had to have it removed, knows about dentistry.
I do regret the loss of my newly acquired party trick.
I suppose it’s back to interpretive dance.