I’d like to think that I take good care of my overall health with a daily power walk, fifty sit-ups, vitamins, and avoiding foods with the evil ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, BHA, GMO, MSG, etc. (OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I do the sit-ups using a resistance band, but I’m pretty sure that qualifies as exercise.)
I also relentlessly brush my teeth, using professionally recommended equipment. So after several years of getting an A+ after the regularly scheduled exam and cleaning, I was shocked to realize I had a toothache. I haven’t had one in 10 years or so, but it definitely was a major league pain that traveled from one side to the other, necessitating over-the-counter pain relief and sticking to a liquid diet for a couple days, in hopes that whatever the problem was, it would self-resolve. Then the right side of my face blew up like that famous marshmallow man in Ghostbusters, and I made an emergency appointment with my new dentist.
My new dentist poked around inside my mouth, took X-rays, reviewed the X-rays, shook his head and then decreed, “We have to take care of this right now.” He said he could perform the first step – the demolition of a lower bridge that was in the way of step No. 2 , which necessitated the services of an oral surgeon. He made an emergency appointment with another dental professional just up the street a mile or two, then proceeded to use a chainsaw to cut apart the bridge. That was a singular experience, to say the least. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics, which I filled at a nearby pharmacy, although what I really wanted at that point was a prescription for Valium and daily Happy Hours. I don’t so much have a fear of dentistry as I do have searing memories of dental malpractice in the distant past.
The staff at the oral surgeon’s office were friendly and empathetic. In lieu of Valium, they gave me several super-sized shots of Novocain and some soothing background music. The oral surgeon then used a drill, hammer and industrial strength pliers to finish the project. There might have been other tools employed as well, but I closed my eyes and focused on the soothing music. After an interminable amount of time passed, my new oral surgeon told me that next up, there would be bone grafts, followed by implants, but not the good kind of implants that give you perky breasts. My entire head felt like a construction site and I just wanted to slink home and crawl into bed. I made one stop along the way because a small bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey seemed like the perfect medicine.
Once I resolved the great dental debacle, I learned from a routine eye exam that, even though I have 20/20 vision, I need to see a “behavioral optometrist” because evidently my eyes are misbehaving and playing tricks on me. Seriously, what next?
Jo Ann Jaacks lives in Litchfield and is the publicist for St. Michael’s parish.