Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Teeth: A Bad Idea

Time to tell the tedious tooth tale.

The eager reader of TOS1 will remember that I was having trouble with an upper right-side molar3. I had been driving past Doc Tugmolar's surgery when a nugget of mercury amalgam weighing about a pound and a half fell out of my head, uncovering the delicate hurtybit inside the tooth.

"What a stroke of luck!" I remember crying out4 and had dashed in and made out a very good case for a temporary filling being fabricated for it immediately. I'd had the damn thing root-canalled, but the endodontist had pulled a face at the time and said the tooth was cracked and probably could not be saved.

During the next few weeks I went back and forth with one of Tugmolar's young associates as to whether it was worth even trying to cap the tooth. Leaving it as a stub like the other one was one option, but the dentist didn't think she could fill the tooth effectively without putting a crown on it, specifically a post-and-crown cap, which would involve putting a peg down the center of the tooth.

I thought that this plan would result in me spending a lot of money (for my insurance plan has an age-related exclusion clause on crowns5 which would make me liable for most of the 1600 bux this one would cost) and then, if things went the same way they did for the other cracked tooth I root-canalled, I would have to have it pulled anyway due to the agonising pain every time something brushed the tooth. If it was only going to have to come out anyway I'd just as soon be not 1600 dollars in the hole. There was also the matter of the endless stream of ear and sinus infections I was having, and the fact that my face felt like it was on fire much of the time. A cracked, infected tooth root snugged up against my sinus cavity was looking more and more like the route6 for the germs into Mr Head.

The dentist was most persuasive that the post would stabilize the tooth and called me in for the appointment to make the impression. I was in the chair about ten minutes while she X-rayed my jaw, then she came back and said that not only could the tooth not be capped owing to the severity of the crack, not only would it indeed have to come out, but that they couldn't pull it because the root was snugged up against the sinus cavity and I would therefore have to visit a oral surgeon.

They did recommend a surgeon, so I called and made an appointment. I discussed the details with the surgeon's PA, confirming that my insurance was good and so forth when the lady asked "Do you want to be awake for this procedure?".

"You offer general anaesthesia?" I asked.

"Of course" she answered.

"Will my insurance cover general anaesthetic?" I asked dubiously.

"Oh yes" she answered.

"Then I would most certainly not want to be awake" I said with feeling.

I mean, who would? There's the hundred and fifty jabs in the jaw, the horrible, bone-jarring cracking as the tooth is ripped out of your head, fragment by fragment (cracked, remember), the gallons of blood gushing from the gaping wound. Not to mention the bruising from the places the oral surgeon will have to grab your head to get the leverage required.

The only problem, such as it was, was that I would have to be ferried to and from the surgery. Mrs Stevie had plans to be in Manhattan with The Stevieling all day, but grudgingly allowed that she wouldn't be due to leave until after the surgery was done, so couldn't pass up the chance to see me in post-surgical agony and offered to drive me there and back.

On the day, I was X-rayed in surround-rad in a stand-up rig that gave me my yearly dose of Roentgens in 15 seconds, then I was conducted to the operating room and helped into the leather recliner that would be the scene of the action. Mrs Stevie announced she was leaving to get gas for her car, and I engaged the surgeon in conversation. I was in the middle of regaling him with one of my many witty stories, when he leapt onto me and stuck a needle into my arm. Long years of life with Mrs Stevie have granted me immunity from such minor assaults and so I didn't break the stream of my amusing narrative. Five seconds later, just before the hysterically funny climax of the tale, I passed out.

I was awakened some 45 minutes later by the frantic nurse who demanded to know where Mrs Stevie was. I wracked my brains, wooly from the aneasthetic and also because my head was stuffed with real cotton-wool, and realised I didn't know since I had no idea where she went for gas. The nurse started yelling about how she would have to take me home, but I couldn't pay attention to her because the room was swishing around and I was very tired, so I just said that she should leave me propped up in the waiting room until Mrs Stevie returned, at which point Mrs Stevie returned.

The rest of the day was spent attempting to shrug off the anaesthetic, which left me with the mental acuity of a drunken hedgehog for about 17 hours.


The operation was painless and so was the recovery. Even after the sleepyhappy juice wore off I had absolutely no discomfort at the wound site. Mouth felt a bit odd with a hole in my toothline you could drive a bus through, and I drooled uncontrollably for three days, but no pain from that side of my mouth.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for the other side, where the stub of the other root-canalled tooth was cutting the hell out of my tongue. I think I was biting myself in my sleep, probably during nocturnal gnashing brought on by the need to do constant mental battle with the mercurial and ultra-violent Mrs Stevie. I stood it for a couple of weeks, then begged Tugmolar's team to give me an appointment so someone could file off the sharp edges. It's fine now, no biting my own body while I sleep and no more drooling and, finally, an end to the endless ear infections and burning sensations in my right cheek.

Oral Surgery is the best thing ever.

  1. It is a central literary conceit of TOS that there are people who read it, and that they are eager for each installment2.
  2. In fact, a recent survey of the system logs here at TOS Ents (North America) Inc. have shown that almost 100% of the visitors to a given page promptly navigate back off it again in less than 12 micro-seconds, which outpaces even a sugared-up teenager's click-read-click rate by several orders of magnitude and strongly suggests these visitors are in fact robotic spiders dispatched by the various web search engines for book-keeping purposes. The small fraction of a percent of visitors who do not go somewhere else in a gnat's eyeblink do so after about two point eight seconds, suggesting they were directed here by the said search engines but were looking for other types of content. There's a way to figure out what they were looking for, and I would indeed offer such content if I could figure out a) how to get pictures onto TOS, 2) how to circumvent certain petty federal obscenity statutes and web host terms of service and ♥) how to persuade Mrs Stevie to pose with the various pieces of equipment and/or farm animals that seem to be in demand. Experience has taught me that Mrs Stevie has ultra-conservative views on such matters and a tendency to illustrate them by the percussive use of cookware on my skull
  3. Number three for the dentophiles out there
  4. Or words to that effect
  5. I imagine this policy would most benefit young professional hockey players or kickboxers since apparently one can get all the crowns one can stand before a certain, undisclosed age, at which point you can't have any.
  6. aHahaha

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