Yes, I went to the dentist today. I am not going to tell you how long it has been since my last appointment, let’s just say it’s been a while and I was way overdue.
My appointment was at 2.00 p.m. and I didn’t walk out the door until 4.15 p.m. It went as well as can be expected, a new dentist, new dental-hygienist, new receptionist. No recriminations but lots of talking on the hygienist’s part, she did her job well. The dentist had a warm smile and gentle manner. He patted my arm and put me at my ease. I think the word got out, we've got a live one here. But I will be returning in six months and I am giving myself the gift of regular check-ups from now on.
For the story of why it took me so long to get back into the dental chair we will have to go into another chapter from the distant past, not so distant really but distant enough. In the old days I had the greatest dentist I have ever had in my life, an older gentleman who looked after me for several years, the kind of loving grandfatherly-type that you would love to have for a grandfather. To even walk in his waiting room was a joy. Bright, pretty wallpaper, beautiful prints of jungle animals in vibrant colors, and two very large fish tanks filled with tropical fish. I was a kid in a candy store. I had never been in a waiting room like it, and time stood still before being called, being mesmerized by all that surrounded me. I didn't need those magazines to read.
It was a sad day for me when he told me that he was retiring and that the man who had just joined his team was in actual fact taking over his practice. I had met him and my first impression was that he was a bit on the cold side, his 'ora' was frigid. No warm smile of greeting, cold eyes and a hard handshake. I don’t mind a good strong handshake but smile at me when you give it, and don’t crush my bones into dust with the force of it. I was happy for my dentist who was retiring but inside I was thinking oh boy, the good old days are over and done with and I had that kind of sinking feeling.
My dentist retired and the day came for my next check-up with the new guy. Yes I do know it is hard to be the 'new guy' on the block, but when I walked into the waiting room what a shock I had. Floor to ceiling Polaroid’s of before and after photographs, ‘before’ photos of hideous closeups of the most sorry-looking, gaping, open-mouths full of nasty looking teeth, next to the ‘after’ photos of pearly whites. The new receptionist must have seen the stunned look on my face and said that it was good to see the before and after pictures. I looked at her and said, "You're kidding me right? Do we really need floor to ceiling poloroids on one whole wall?" Good grief! Where were my jungle prints, where where my wonderfully relaxing tank of tropical babies? They had even taken off the wallpaper and painted one of those "you're not here to have fun" paint jobs. I sat in my chair as stiff as a board waiting for my appointment, dreading it but it went okay considering the white knuckles that I thought had long gone were now back and were gripping the arms of the chair in a vice.
Jump ahead six months and I was down south with hubby and son celebrating Thanksgiving with the rest of the family. I was having a problem as I had pain under a crown, a dull pain at first but slowly becoming a throbbing jackhammer. We tried to find a dentist but couldn’t. I ended up going to the ER and the doctor gave me pain-killers. In the meantime my face swelled up like a balloon and the medicine made me sleep all the way through the rest of my stay.
We headed north after the holiday and I don’t remember much of the trip. Hubs called my dentist immediately but he was told she has an appointment on Friday (it was Monday), she’s on pain-killers, should be okay until she comes in. I slept a lot the remainder of the week until I found myself staring at that wall again, except now I wasn’t in any shape to think too much about the horror show. The dentist took one look at my tooth and said, “You know, I’m real sorry, I didn’t realize it was this bad. I got you confused with another English patient. I’m afraid you’re going to have to lose your tooth.” I was in too sorry a state to reach up and slap him. I’m not a violent person but that’s how I felt.
The next hour was an horrendous removal of the offending tooth which was obviously fighting to stay put. For whatever reason I wasn’t given enough anesthetic and I still felt pain when he tried to remove it. He said calmly, “Oh, does that still hurt?” I think my eyes answered because I had my mouth too full of wadding to give him speech. I must have the longest roots in Christendom because he said, "You have the longest roots in Christendom" and he had one heck of a time removing that tooth. If I had felt like laughing I might have let out a chuckle or two at the contortions he got into to yank the blasted thing out. He had quite a work out and so did his assistant.
Eventually it was over and I got out of the chair as fast as I was able. Next door was the reception area and as I was writing out my check to pay for my fun time in the chair, I heard my dentist say to his assistant, “Well she was a tough old bird!” and then I heard them both laugh. If I hadn’t gone through what I had just gone through and was so wanting to get out of there, I might have gone back in and clunked their heads together - more violent thoughts - told them to make sure that the 'wrong English patient' had left the building before opening their big mouths, or to at least shut the door so that I couldn't hear their boorish remarks.
So, I haven’t been back to the dentist until yesterday and I owe it to my friend Hazel who heard my sorry tale of woe and said, “You’re going to my dentist my girl, I’ll call him up and I’ll go with you the first time.” That was two weeks ago, and the night before I got a phone call to go into work because a friend was sick. I called Hazel and said, “Hazel, I can’t go tomorrow, sorry but I have to go into work”, secretly relieved at this twist of fate that would keep me from the dreaded tooth-pullers. She would have none of it, “You can’t break your appointment! You call them back and tell them you’re going to be late.” “Yes, Mommy!” said I and I did as I was told. That was for my consultation and I went back today for x-rays, cleaning and general check-up. Two things I remember the hygienest saying - wait for it - "You have very long roots!" and "You've got a small mouth!" Wish Gregg could have heard that last one. My blood pressure was a little high but it always goes up for these things and I wasn’t worried about that but I will get it checked out next time to be on the safe side.
Hazel called me tonight to ask me how it went. I told her that she was going to need her sunglasses the next time she saw me, that my teeth were so pearly white she was going to have to shade her eyes. And that other dentist from Thanksgiving past? Go in peace, I forgive you, you nincompoop. Well maybe just a little but I am very 'thankful' that I don't have to go back to see you again. I have a pretty long memory don’t you know, my short term is pretty bad but that long term, it's a kicker.
My talkative little Grackle was taken on the rail of the back deck at home.