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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Uncomfortably Numb

 At 11:10 this morning, the periodontist's technician called me back to the room to start my gum graft.  (Back story here.)

The doctor came in a couple minutes later to prepare the local anesthetic.  As he pulled back the needle to administer the first shot, he said, "This will feel like a very short pinprick."  I grunted to signal my understanding.

Before he administered the second, he said, "This one'll sting more.  It'll feel kind of like a bad splinter."

I don't know why he felt the need to forecast my level of discomfort as if it were the weather.  I'd have preferred to play pain roulette.  Perhaps he just wanted to make sure I had the right amount of trepidation going in to each shot.  After all, you don't want to get caught with only "affectionate pinch" levels of dread in a situation that requires something more like "convenience store stabbing." 

After a few minutes the numbing agent did its job, leaving the periodontist to do his.

He resumed the play-by-play, which remained as informative as it was welcome.  

As I heard the sound of metal against tooth, he said, “What I’m doing right now is not unlike some things a hygienist does.” Um, thanks for that.  “So think of me as a hygienist with a really deep voice.”

I could tell he’d delivered this line before and thought it crushed, probably because an audience consisting entirely of open-mouthed hostages tends to be restrained in its criticism.  No doubt he’s in great demand on the mortuary stand-up circuit.

"Now I'm going to borrow some cells from your palate."  

He made it sound benign, like a library transaction.  Based on the explanation he’d given during the initial consultation, I knew this deal was more like loaning money to a relative: once it left, you’d never see it again.  My palate understood this, too, and seemed reluctant to bid the tissue farewell.  Because I couldn’t feel anything, I relied on my other working senses for information.

My eyes tracked the doctor's hand as he put an implement in my mouth and moved it back and forth in small strokes across my palate, the way you’d take a butter knife to scrape the char off a piece of burnt toast.  On seeing this I took my eyes off the assignment. 

My taste buds took their place and reported the singular, slightly metallic, taste of blood. I fired them, too.  

On the upside, at least my nose hadn’t detected singed flesh or anything beyond the garden variety, antiseptic smell of a dental practice.

An hour and a half and $2,500 later, the first of three gum grafts was complete. Two more and my sinking teeth just might be back to sea level. 

From the periodontist’s office I went to the polls. The left side of my face had begun to swell, as the doctor told me it might. By the time I reached the front of the line, I looked like a squirrel in the throes of hibernation prep.  A drooling squirrel.

I hope the swelling and drooling abate soon. Thanks to my recent decision to cash in a Groupon for personalized matchmaking services (detailed in "Love Stinks...and Splats"), I have a first date tomorrow night.

10 comments:

  1. That's a crazy bill. I've had a crazier one. But my Canadian health care cover it.

    I'm reading your blog to distract me from what's happening with the polls. SCARIER THAN THE DENTIST.

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  2. TOTALLY! And so much more painful. Have I mentioned that I have two more of these coming, at $2500 a pop? No need to send the adoption paperwork. I'll come up there and get it. And I just might not leave.

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  3. Oh my word, your writing is far too good! Your descriptions were scarily accurate and my belly flip flopped while you were describing the dentist!
    Ew and yuck and wow... good job!

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    1. Haha! Thanks, Dawn! I'm pleased to report that I don't look entirely like a monster this morning. Though I think I need to adjust my smile so that the right side does most of the heavy lifting. Oughtta be interesting tonight!

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  4. He's going to be a keeper ...I can just feel it!

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    1. Thanks, Katie! I hope you're right, and if not, well, expect to read about it here. :)

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  5. Reading about a painful, and kinda gross, dental procedure has never been so much fun! (Also, I'm glad you're forging the way ahead of me...)

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    1. Keep your teeth above sea level, whatever you do!

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  6. Have a fun date! You deserve to have a good time, after that dental appointment!

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    1. Thank you! A good date is not too much to ask, gosh darn it. Stay tuned!

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