I had cause to have a molar extracted recently and it wasn’t pretty.
With age comes the encroachment of our body parts starting to show wear and tear. However, teeth have always been especially problematic for me.
When I was very young my baby teeth grew in black and rotted. I still don’t know exactly why that happened. One sister speculated it was the “vitamins” they had pregnant women take back in the ’60’s when my mother was carrying me. I mean, I surely was not the lone first grader spitting tobacco juice out on the playground gravel.
In any case, I had to have all of my teeth extracted at one sitting so my adult teeth could come in. I still remember that “rubber ball” smell of the gas mask they put over my face as the procedure began – but blessedly not much else.
Fast forward to last week when I had to have a tooth extracted to make way for an implant. Thinking perhaps of that time 50 years prior, I timidly asked if I could get gas.
“Oh yes, we can give you gas and Novocaine,” the oral surgeon’s assistant assured me.
Sweet! This will be easy, I thought.
Early into the procedure it became clear all was not sweet, but had instead turned as sour as sauerkraut.
“Well, you have a nasty infection underneath your tooth and I’m afraid the Novocaine won’t touch it,” my oral surgeon, Captain Obvious stated, as my writhing turned into full-fledged muffled screams of pain and panic.
I’m sure it was actually a short time that I experienced such pain, but as is true in any unpleasant instance, it seemed to go on and on. Tears began to leak out of my eyes and since I was reclined, pool into my ears.
The tears were only in part due to the pain. I was mortified that I had screamed and made a fuss. I know clinically the pain was bad, but as an adult, was embarrassed by my lack of stoicism.
Also, whenever I face trauma now, I tend to get upset because James is no longer here to help me. I started to think about that while in the dental BarcaLounger and cried even more. In my past life, he would be there, and has even sat with me while I’ve had some minor albeit painful procedure done. I’d look at him and since he was not wincing or showing distress, take my cue that it was going to be OK.
My life is now like that broken tooth. I worry it with my tongue. I chew around it, and try not to fully engage it. It will never be the same. And when I feel like I might be able to start acting like my old normal self, the hidden infection that is grief and loss, resurfaces to remind me painfully, that it is not.