(It’s also colloquially called pissenlit because its diuretic properties make you piss the bed.)
I have a friend who is so straight edge that he doesn’t get novocaine (Google tells me dentists now use lidocaine. WHATEVS) at the dentist.
I was thinking about him today when my beloved dentist was injecting whatever -caine he was injecting into my mouth and I was listening to Elliott Smith sing about shooting heroin.
I was thinking about my friend just lying in the chair, tears steaming down his eyes. That happened to me once, when whatever-caine ran out when I was at the dentist and I didn’t realize what happened and neither did the dentist and I just lay there, tears falling into my ears, sweating like hell. That was in Hawaii seven years ago.
Seven years ago I was limping around Australia with a broken foot when my wisdom teeth started hurting like white hot fire pain. I know I’ve mentioned this before. I was following Jacob around on tour in Australia, and from there we went on our annual vacances in Hawaii, where Jacob’s dear darling bonkers dad found me a dentist using the time-honored Jewish-Buddhist I Ching-inspired technique of opening the Yellow Pages to the dentist section, closing his eyes, and giving me the number of the first dentist his finger landed on.
This was his response to me asking if he knew any dentists.
“Sure!” had he had said, jauntily.
Perhaps I should have left when I saw that the dentist wasn’t wearing shoes.
But he was so nice (it was Hawaii!) and everyone in the waiting room was so nice (Hawaii!), and anyway, Jacob’s dad never wears shoes either. Or a shirt. (Hawaii!) At least this guy was wearing a shirt. A hibiscus-print scrub shirt (Hawaii!), but still.
Perhaps I should have left when he talked to me for two minutes, then tapped out a Xanax from a bottle on the counter and told me to sit in the waiting room for an hour while it took effect.
I didn’t really have a choice to leave when I was numbed up and cut open and heard him say, “Hmm, wait, how old are you? [Yes, he could have looked on the intake forms, I suppose.] These teeth are REALLY IN THERE. Hmm. Well. This is a job, alright.”
Then I just heard hammering noises. After a while the Novocaine wore off and after I cried for a long, long time, he realized it and gave me a bunch more shots. He was a really nice guy, and kept apologizing.
Then I sat in bed for three days straight, missing the beach and solid food. I have photos of my jaw puffed up so hugely it looks like I have the mumps, but I’ll spare you. (Lest we forget: my foot was also gradually healing itself from when I broke it by tripping on a step in Melbourne while wearing stupid shoes.)
To no one’s surprise, he didn’t do the best job removing my wisdom teeth, and I had to have another surgery a few years later to get more tooth chunks out (he did a really good job of smashing them up a lot in my mouth, though). You can see them in that X-ray, on the right. One piece was too close to the nerve to remove, so the oral surgeon (a super professional one in Poughkeepsie who charged me three times as much as Mr. Hawaii and did roughly three times better a job, and who kindly left this x-ray up on his computer while he left the room, allowing me to snap a photo of it.) left it there.
Once in a while I’d feel a dull ache in my mouth for a day or so: that wisdom tooth chunk was swimming up to the surface, butting up against my last molar. I could feel it when I flossed. After a checkup last month (no cavities! Take that, chocolate shop!), my bestest-pal local dentist said it was safe to extract it.
Whenever I thought of this wisdom tooth fragment, the phrase “swimming up to the surface” always came to my mind. I figured it was just this rootless tooth fragment, and one day it would make its way up to the top and maybe I’d just, like, gracefully spit it out, scrub my hands, and go back to work.
Even after six years of braces, one million cavities, a screw packed with human bones drilled into my mouth, and many assorted other dental excitements, it turns out I have a very limited understanding of how the human mouth works.
So, I wasn’t nervous about this mouth surgery. I figured my dentist would just zip my gum open, delicately pluck out the tooth, sew me closed, and I’d get a free day off of work.
(Actually, I was planning on going into work later in the day until Rose, my dentist’s lovely wife and receptionist, gave me her stern look and said “So, you’re staying in bed the rest of the day, right?” and raised her eyebrow at Jacob, standing behind me, who nodded in a caretakery way. [Joke’s on them, because I have paperwork I can do in bed all day!])
My dentist suggested nitrous anyway, and, not being straight edge in any way (well, except for the whole vegan thing), I went for it. I put on my Elliott Smith and laid down, happy to have my feet up for a while. After about five minutes, I realized something:
the tooth was attached.
I started getting sweaty and weird. They always say that if I’m having any pain to raise my left hand, which I’d never done. But the room was getting spinny suddenly and I raised my hand—immediately work stopped and I blubbered,
“Wait, I just realized…this is so stupid. I just realized, um, the tooth is attached to, like, roots and stuff.”
“Yeah.” my dentist said. He was kind, and didn’t laugh at me. “Are you OK?”
And they went back to work.
It was a tiny thing, but I hadn’t steeled myself for a real extraction, you know? The whirring, the drilling, the blood-spit, the whole thing. But I went with the flow, and now I’m sitting in bed, with a faux ice pack (though I have a entire freezer full of ice packs at work, at home I just have tons of cat food and a bag of shiitake mushrooms in the freezer, which is now on my face.) and a Tylenol with codeine flowing through my body.
Manipulation of the body is so strange.
This blog post has no point.
Don’t you hate blog posts with no point? Ones that are just “I did this, I went here, here’s a photo”? I fucking hate that. What’s your point?? No point.
OK. Back to paperwork.
Do you want to come to this fancy dinner I’m cooking? I have four seats left for the Wednesday seating.
Want to see a photo of the tooth chunk that was in my head until this morning? After I mentioned on my blog that I found it amazing that I couldn’t take home another tooth he’d extracted, Dr. Kurek called whoever you call about these things, and found out that the rules had been changed and I could, in fact, keep pieces of my own body. How nifty!
I have others I’ve apparently illegally been granted over the years, but today’s is the little chunk on the bottom.