Although this posted Saturday morning about 0800, I wrote it Friday night about 1900 so my recollection of the day’s events, timing, and dialogue would not be lost.
It was Friday morning. The Girl and I had walked, not as far or hard as we have been. I felt like I needed a break to give my body time to heal a bit. We’ve been pushing the miles pretty hard, averaging a five-mile walk in the mornings and logging six miles or more every day for the last couple of weeks. We had both had breakfast.
I was just getting ready to start my monthly bookkeeping when my telephone rang. It was the dentist’s office manager. They had an opening and could get me in. “Do you want to come in this morning?” she asked.
It took me about two seconds to think. “Yes! Let’s get this done.”
So, at about 0900 the Girl and I scrambled into the 4Runner and headed south to Gardnerville. As I drove down there, I felt my fear and anxiety rise. I had a feeling this was not going to be an easy process. I was reminded of a favorite passage from the book The Golden Compass in which the girl asks her friend the armored bear “Aren’t you afraid?”
“No,” he replied, “but if I am, I will master my fear.”
I think my fear was more of the unknown nature of the process and not about pain. I knew the anesthetic would be effective in eliminating most, if not all pain. But I knew there would be a lot of pressure on my other teeth and my lips are always pinched between instruments and teeth. It doesn’t hurt badly, but there is a lot of it. (And that reminds me of the aphorism about being “nibbled to death by ducks.”) So, I took some deep breaths and reminded myself I could do this. It would be unpleasant for awhile, but then be over and the healing process would begin.
We got there about 0930 (it takes as long to drive through Minden as it does to drive from Carson City to Minden). I visited with the office manager for a minute and then they took me back to one of the stations. Many instruments were arrayed when I sat down. The assistant brought me a blanket for my legs (I get cold in there).
The dentist came into the room, looked over the images, and said “It’s time to get the healing process started.” He then administered the anesthetic and went on to work on another patient while the anesthetic took effect. He returned in a few minutes to administer the second phase of anesthetic and we talked about the bone graft he proposed. I asked a few questions and elected to have the bone added to the socket to protect the adjacent teeth and provide additional structural strength should I need it sometime in the future.
The process began about 1000, I think. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had. The tooth was brittle and there were four roots, all of which were “spindly.” I could tell from his energy that it was a difficult extraction. He used a drill to cut up the remaining structure of the tooth (the upper part was already removed), then extracted two roots. The other two required a lot of effort to gain purchase. He had to use the drill again to make catch points for the instruments to get purchase of them.
There was not much pain, but a lot of pulling and pressure to work out the roots without breaking them. They finally were all extracted and a followup image proved the socket was clear. So the technician mixed the demineralized cadaver bone with some liquid so it could be injected into the socket. That process was straightforward and completed quickly.
This was followed by some sutures, which were challenging only because the tooth was so far back in my mouth. He nicked me a couple of times when removing the suture needle. I could have said something, but I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. With the sutures in place, we were basically done. The technician worked up the temporary bridge (to protect the site), singing quietly to herself as she worked.
That was very pleasant. She has no idea how calming that was to me.
During most of the process, I was so deeply into myself that I was only aware of direction, my breathing, and tension in my body. I forced myself to face the anxiety and to relax my body when I felt the fear and tension rise.
Finally, everything was done. I was released to the main office. I received direction on care of my wound, follow up appointments, and a prescription for pain medication. I had a feeling that there would be plenty of aching when the anesthetic dissipated. I paid my (huge) bill and walked out to the 4Runner.
The Girl was ecstatic to see me. She sniffed me all over, but kept coming back to my mouth. She knew I was wounded and wanted to care for me. I got her out to pee and then we drove back to Carson City. We stopped at Walmart to fill my prescription and pick up a couple of things I thought I might want/need. I have salt to make a rinse. I have some Reese’s Cups to reward myself and some protein shakes to provide sustenance until I feel like I can eat again.
We drove the remainder of the way to the hotel. I could feel the pain rising and knew I’d better get my pain medication started. So, we parked and I carried my things to my room. I took a pill and decided to walk across the street to the Black Bear Diner in the casino. I wanted a strawberry shake and some time to let the remaining tension bleed out.
On the way out, I stopped by the front desk to extend my stay another week. The sutures will come out in about ten days. The clerk worked on it a bit, but they were booked solid on the 15th, so she told me “I’ll fix this. Someone will call and cancel — it happens every day.” So the Girl and I walked across Carson Street and into the casino.
A young man greeted us at Black Bear Diner. “How many?”
“One… and a half,” I replied.
“Would you like a booth or a table?”
“Either is fine, so long as she is out of traffic.” We started into the dining room. The manager followed us and caught up.
“When someone has a service dog,” she said to the young man, “let them pick where they want to sit. They know where the best place is for their dog.”
I pointed to a table along a partition wall that was out of traffic, “This will be perfect.”
A beautiful young woman came by shortly after I settled the Girl next to the wall. She was mi mesera and asked how I was doing. I elected to spare her the description of the ordeal [grin] and then ordered a glass of water and a strawberry shake. They make excellent shakes at Black Bear Diner.
The manager dropped by a few minutes later. “Thank you for being patient with us. He’s in training and is learning how to handle customers with service dogs.”
“No worries,” I said. “I have learned to ask for something different if I think the seat is not the best for us. Booths are usually good because she’ll sleep under the table. But tables are fine too so long as we are out of traffic.”
The strawberry shake was very good. The cold felt good in my mouth. I needed the calories (if not the sugar). I elected to take a second pain pill because my mouth was really starting to hurt and I wanted to get ahead of the pain.
As I worked through my shake, the medication began its work. The pain didn’t go away, but was reduced to something tolerable. I decided I didn’t want anything else to eat. I will get some eggs Saturday morning. So I paid my bill and we walked back to the room. I took care of a few things that needed doing before I crashed.
I put on some music. Then I laid on the bed with the Girl. She snuggled close, curled up against my tummy. We both fell asleep.
I woke a bit later, checked the time, and took another pain pill. The hydrocodone works pretty well to both dull the pain and make me rest.
I learned a lot Friday. Or at least I feel like I learned a lot. I knew it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience. I was determined to get it done anyway. I didn’t want the infection to worsen and make additional problems. I’ll figure out the money.
Oh, I got a call from my hotel. The figured out a way to keep me in my room for two weeks if I want it. I need at least a week, maybe more. That makes me happy.
The image is unrelated. While at Walmart, I decided to buy a deck of cards. I love the Steampunk motif. I want a deck of cards in my kit. I don’t want to play games on the computer. Sometimes solitaire is a good thing, with real cards. There could come a time when Spades or Hearts might be appropriate as well. And if I’m with a friend, there’s always Gin Rummy.
I really like these cards.