The Light Touch / Left numb by the root of all evil
Published 7:36 am, Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I recently went to see my dentist who, after lecturing me on how I had neglected my teeth for a period which is considered a full life span for a dog, I was given the bad news: I needed two root canals on adjacent upper teeth. Not one to argue with dental authorities wielding pneumatic drills, I was whisked off to an endodontist, who would perform my root canals for what it costs to take a cruise on a luxury ocean liner for 12. I opted for the root canals over the cruise for two reasons:1) I get seasick and 2) the endodondist was so drop-dead gorgeous that it was worth the price of admission just to be able to stare up at his face for a couple hours.
I ended up in his office the next day and was led to his inner sanctum by a cheery nurse who looked like she could have been a Playmate of the Month. While I sat in the buttery-soft leather dental chair, waiting for the doctor to appear, I busied myself in a Travel & Leisure magazine and an article of the Top Ten Resorts in the World, none I would ever get to visit since the cost of my teeth would take precedence over travel accommodations. Then, from nowhere, a White Knight appeared, outfitted in politically-correct white duds with a cavity-prevention, tarter control smile on his face.
At first, I thought that Ms. Playmate had sent in Mr. Playboy to keep me company before the doctor arrived.
"Hi," I said with a tentative look on my face. "And who are you?"
"I'm the person who will take away your pain," he said. "And this is going to be a piece of cake."
I hadn't expected such an Adonis to perform this gruesome task However, the last time I was given the "piece of cake" analogy was years ago when my obstetrician had told me during a Mt. Vesuvious contraction that this would be an easy delivery and I wouldn't even need an epidural. Since then, I raise a jaundiced eye where "pieces of cake" are concerned.
The White Knight then pushed a button which adjusted my chair into an endodontic position where I was pushed back so far that I thought I would need a seat belt to hold me in place.
"You won't feel a thing," he said. "I'm just going to give you a couple shots of Novocain."
He gave me enough Novocain to numb an elephant. He could have performed open heart surgery on me and wouldn't have felt a thing. What I did feel, however was the needle going into my jawbone which turned my entire right side from brain to buttocks totally impervious to feeling. I was also convinced that the Novocain included a sedative because after a few injections I felt like I had consumed two double martinis and couldn't care less about anything, least of all, root canals.
As is the case with procedures of any kind, including manicures, I am always the one who falls into the small percentage of people who, if something is going to go wrong, I will be the one on whom the "wrongness" falls. With the manicure, a cuticle pusher once slipped and catapulted up my left nostril.
"Hmm," the endodontist mused as he fiddled with my tooth. Then "hmm" again.
Because my mouth was encased in a rubber dam with a saliva tube hanging off my lip, I was not at liberty to inquire as to what "hmm" meant. I assumed from past history the news was grim. I tried communicating with my eyes. I looked up at his face, quizzically. He looked back, equally puzzled. I blinked a few times. He stared back. I figured he thought I had a tick and was easily excitable because he gave me another shot of something that was probably Valium. I lapsed into a catatonic state only to learn he had hit a snag.
"This is a very old tooth," he said.
"As old as I am," I wanted to say." I wasn't paying for insults.
"And because it's so old, one of the canals is impenetrable."
Next, I would need to consult a gynecologist, I thought.
"This will be a bit tricky," he said, "but if anyone can do it, I think I can."
That's what I like: an endodontist with confidence. I was certain The White Knight would come through. And, come through he did. Into the tooth, he poured a gob of liquid which I believe safe crackers use to get in and out fast before the cops come. The canal suddenly cleared. The hole in my tooth was now so large a Mack truck could have passed through the opening. The doctor looked euphoric. My eyes danced in appreciation. The root canal was successful, or "a piece of cake" as I had been told.
Another half hour of exploration into the dark crevices I was catapulted from a horizontal to a vertical position. The dam was removed as a bevy of beauties, respectively handed me a cup of mouthwash, a spittoon and a warm, scented towel. I expected sushi and Saki to be served. Instead, the only thing served to me was the bill which caused my eyeballs to pop forth from their orbs.
But, who was I to complain? I would probably be numb for the rest of my life, which, with the way things were going lately, wasn't a bad thing.