March 7, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on March 6, 2018

Well. That was some procedure…

We left the house at 8:15, making jokes about dentists–as in, imagine if your oral surgery team had those two homicidal thugs from The Avengers’ Murdersville episode (“Nice day, Hubert,” says one, as the other replies, “Aye, yesterday was a nice day, too”–before killing another victim in cold blood). Or Peter Sellers as Inspector Clousseau, “disguised” as the dentist who has come to pull Dreyfus’s tooth. Then, in the excitement to snag a parking space close to the praxis, as well as identifying the building in time as we approached, I inadvertently ran a red light. I think that was a first; I’ve run red lights on purpose, but not inadvertently. It had just turned, though, which I realized when I saw it and the still-stopped cars at the crossing.

Anyway, A.’s procedure was pretty rough. The bottom teeth were still deep in the bone (Dr. H. had to shave some bone off so he could grab the teeth), coming in sideways, and the roots were (are) really gnarly. The top teeth were less problematic in those senses (straight roots not bent out of shape), but the left one’s root went up so far that Dr. H. opted to leave it in, as he feared damaging a sinus if he went on digging for it. So, three out of four. When I went in to see him while he was still in the chair, becoming fully aware after coming out of sedation, he looked stricken. I don’t think I’ve seen his eyes look like that ever before, coming off the anesthetic, the sides of his face wrapped in a Velcro-ed band with two pockets, one on each side to cover the cheeks, for ice packs, his face unnaturally swollen and frankly beat-up looking. I felt so badly for him and wished I could rewind the clock. Impossible, of course. But Dr. H. and his team and staff seemed quite competent and concerned, so I can only hope they did their best and this was all for the best. I never grew wisdom teeth in my lower jaw, don’t have ’em, therefore never had ’em out. And the ones in my upper jaw are still sitting there, quietly embedded, not going anywhere. So I really don’t know what this procedure is like, or can be like. E. had all four of hers out several years ago, but she never looked as horrified as A. did, post-op. Her procedure, however, was apparently straightforward: the teeth were simple to extract and it didn’t involve shaving off bones or endangering sinuses. Different kids, different bodies.

I have to admit I’m somewhat thrown for a loop. I generally try to maintain the attitude that if all there is is now, then I’m okay because I’m here. All the people I love are here, still. But of course on another level this is nonsense; I don’t really know what past and future are, but I do know that “now” won’t last forever and at some point we all die. A health or medical crisis sharpens this point to acuity, and yesterday (and the time leading up to it) I felt very much that I’m wasting my time, I’m not living fully or up to my potential–that somehow I’m “settling” and not trying hard. Worse: that now, at [age x], I’m retired. And I don’t like it.

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