Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Periodontal Work

I've been dreading this day and I wish there was some way to avoid it. But the time has come, and I'm walking into the doctor's office now. Ruth has kissed me goodbye, it may be my last, and parts with the advice: "Be brave."

"Yeah, well I am brave. I don't need no one telling me anything about being brave. Let's see you go under! Yeah, I thought so."

At the consultation meeting two weeks before, the doctor explained what he was going to do. It wasn't pretty. He drew a picture in pencil on the back of the admissions form I had filled out. He explained that he was going to slice the gum, fill in the missing bone with glass beads, stitch it up, and we'd hope the bone would grow over the glass fill. This kind of sounded major, so I asked a few interview questions. Questions like: How many years have you been doing this? How often? What is your success rate? Inquiring minds need to know.

He was very friendly and assured me his eight years of experience meant that he was, well, experienced. "This is my bread and butter, it is the equivalent of going to a dentist for a filling." he assured me. He then interviewed me. He asked about my medical history and any current medications I might be taking. He must have sensed my lack of bravery because he said he'd give me something intravenously to relax me when he operates. I felt some tension release from my shoulders.

When I opened the office door today, there were four others in the waiting room. We all waited. That's why it's called a Waiting Room, you've got to wait. I used my time wisely. I went to the bathroom to empty the bladder of the rest of my tea. (You never purchase fluids, remember, you only rent them.)

I went in to surgery at 10:50 after signing my life away. I signed the consent form in the secretary's office. There were many phrases on the paper that were disconcerting. Statements like: "This procedure could result in further damage and additional dental work. There could be permanent nerve damage. Remember, Dentistry is not an exact science." Yeah? Well it needs to be, because you are exactly poking around in my mouth! Dentistry is not an exact science by eye! Thanks for informing me now. I'm feeling better about my operation in the next room. (Is it too late to bail?) They walked me to the operating room.

Dr. Faler warmly greeted me and gestured toward, The Chair. I sat down and he began to search for my vein using needles. He stuck me three times but had no success, once in both hands and once in my right arm. He said that the veins kept "blowing out", whatever THAT means. It sure doesn't sound good. He was surprised, he'd never had so much trouble finding purchase with a needle. Finally, on the forth vein he hit a gusher. He asked the assistant to start the drip. He said he'd now give me something to relax me and I'd have amnesia. I remember thinking it was just a euphemism and there'd be some realization that I was undergoing a serious operation on my gums. The next thing I remember was the doctor tapping me on my shoulder. He asked if I was alright. I said I was, and then became aware that I had slipped off into, what seemed to me, a brief sleep. He said: "Well, we are finished." Huh? What? Finished?

Wow, that stuff was powerful. I couldn't believe it. All finished? I lay back and contemplated this suggestion. I just wanted to sleep a little more. He told me to rest. The next thing I remember was Ruth tapping me on the shoulder asking me if I'm alright. Why does everyone keep waking me up to ask if I'm alright, can't they see I'm sleeping? What I didn't realize is that an hour and a half had passed since 11:50 when I walked in.

I felt no pain, nothing at all, I was fine. Dr. Faler placed some gooey stuff, like Silly Putty, on my gums to cover the stitches. But other than feeling like I have chewing gum stuck to the roof of my mouth, I felt just great. I felt very rested.

The assistant helped me out to the car (I guess they needed the chair, it was so comfortable) and Ruth took me to some place like Jamba Juice for a smoothy. It was a beautiful day, about 80 degrees out. So we sat on the wrought iron chairs and enjoyed our lunch.

I felt rested from the sleep. Maybe I can get some more of that stuff. When's my next appointment?

"Mom, do I have to brush all my teeth?"
"No, just the ones you want to keep."