The only negative thing that happened during my recent trip to Mexico involved my teeth. Shortly after eating lunch, I felt sharp edges that hadn’t been there before. ..and a cavity that felt like a crater. I hadn’t been aware of biting down on anything hard and certainly hadn’t immediately felt anything amiss.
Our family has a long and storied history of teeth issues — soft teeth, braces (Gill still has the wires from hers), a fear of dentistry that rivals Trump’s paranoia of ‘the other’, and a record of generally avoiding that which has the potential to be painful, distasteful or expensive.
As Gill will tell you, my first reaction to almost anything is panic. Let me just say, I didn’t disappoint. “OMG!” I screamed at The Man in My Life.”I just broke a tooth! And we’re in Mexico! I’m sure they have excellent dentists here, but I don’t know them. What if there is pain? This could ruin our holiday!”
If I didn’t know better, I’d suspect he had been schooled (or at lest warned) by Gill that I automatically go to DEFCON 1 (the most severe) mode without passing go. “Does it hurt now?” he asked calmly.
“Then don’t worry. I’m sure the concierge here can find us a great dentist if we have to.”
He made a good point. And it certainly didn’t hurt that several of the group of friends and relatives with whom we were traveling were nurses. I was reassured. Still, I wanted to pre-empt any problems. Since there was no pain, I decided that I would not chew on that side. Easier said than done — when you get to this age, it’s hard to remember much of anything. And I suppose my memory wasn’t helped any by the two-margarita lunches we featured most days. Well, on the plus side, at least the booze would numb the non-existent pain that had the potential to blossom into SOMETHING AWFUL at any time..
I sat down with my iPad to send an emergency email to L’il Sis. “Please call G. (our friend who lives down the street from me) and see if J. (her son and my dentist until he recently sold his practice) has set up his new office yet. Tell her I need to see him right away after I get home.”
L’il Sis emailed back quickly. “Glad to, but I don’t have her number.”
I replied: “Get T. (another neighbor who was looking after the house and pets while I was gone) to go into the kitchen and on the shelf above the phone he’ll find my dog telephone book. (I don’t mean that the dogs in my life have cell phones and that I regularly communicate with them that way…it just has a picture of a dog on the front of the book.) Tell him to look under ‘P’ for ‘Poochie’s friends’ and he’ll find the number which he can then text to you…”
L’il Sis asked: “Poochie”s friends? She died five years ago! I feel certain her friends will have noticed her lack of communication by now!”
“Very funny! I put my friend’s number under P for Poochie since I first met G. through dog-walking our respective pets.It seemed a natural fit. Plus, you know how seldom I update anything — addresses in phone books, computer software, anything involving technology in the home.”
“Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, but…”
“Please…I don’t need criticism right now. I need a dentist appointment!”
“Will do. I’ll get back to you soon.”
And she did. J. hasn’t yet opened his new place so L’il Sis went with a recommendation from a friend and booked an appointment for me with someone new.
After my initial appointment with him, I called L’il Sis to thank her and explain what needed to be done to my tooth. “I have another appointment tomorrow when he will start drilling out the remains of an old filling and part of the tooth that broke off. Then he’ll see ‘what lies beneath’ and see how bad things are. It might simply require a crown or, if things are ugly, a root canal.” As I nattered on, I thought I heard a gagging sound on the other end of the phone. I forgot that L’il Sis can’t take descriptions of anything involving tooth repairs. She tends to heave…I think she has those dreams of her teeth falling out quite frequently. She worries about that. Plus, she is as fearful of nerve pain as I am. That’s a bad place to be!
It turned out that I needed a crown — a relatively simple procedure. Expensive but easy. I was so grateful that a root canal wasn’t needed. I would have joined L’il Sis in heaving had that been the case.
I quite liked the new dentist and so now am faced with a moral dilemma: Do I return to him in the future (his office is close and he’s good) or return to my original dentist whose office will be out in the country (bad driving in winter) but is a good friend and gives me a discount? This decision is almost as difficult as the one to change one’s hairdresser. I did that once and felt worse than a cheating wife, sneaking out behind her husband’s back. Time will tell.