Thursday, August 21, 2008
"Shake my hand, rip my teeth out," I said.
The oral surgeon had the grace to look disconcerted as we shook hands.
The certificates on his wall proclaimed that he is a medical doctor and also a dentist. It crossed my mind that he might be an undertaker too, but there was no documentation to that effect.
It seems that at my ripe old age I need to have my wisdom teeth, which I had thought to keep forever, removed. They are doomed. I should hang a sign that this property is condemned.
There is a lesson in impermanence here which never occurred to me.
While waiting for the doctor I studied two before-and-after photographs of patients who had maxillofacial surgery. The man in the top picture had no chin while the woman below him on the wall had a pugnacious prize fighter chin. In the after pictures, he was bulked up while she was minimized. I wondered if they took some of her excess equipment and gave it to him.
I was read a laundry list of Things That Could Go Wrong, although I was assured that most were unlikely, then asked to sign a release which felt like promising my firstborn child to Rumpelstiltskin. I admit to what could be an unhealthy attachment to my own body parts as we have all been very happy together for a very long time. And now some of us have reached the end of the road.
I told the doctor's scheduler that I needed a few weeks to get used to the idea and she suggested the second week of September. I opted for September 11th since that day is already living in infamy. How better to commemorate the destruction of the World Trade Center than to host a search and destroy mission right in my own mouth?
The doctor gave me a choice of Vicodin or Darvocet and I chose the latter because the name reminded me of Darvon, which I was given after my third child was born by emergency C-Section. It was a very nice drug and under its influence I dreamed of flying across the Atlantic on a Milk Bone dog biscuit.
I will have to eat soft foods for a week and have already arranged with Flip to make his killer mashed potatoes. Every day. I am going to be the Star Patient and in return he has graciously offered to take any leftover drugs off my hands. Flip is helpful that way. It would please us both if he could take all my drugs for me.
"Will you be able to talk?" he asked.
"I might not for a day or two," I said.
A flash of pleasure crossed his face which he quickly controlled. Flip is a married man. He knows better.
"I won't be able to cook either," I said.
His smirk disappeared instantly.
The oral surgeon seems like a lovely person but I wonder how he sleeps at night, divesting people of their personal parts, as he does, by day. It also doesn't seem right that this will cost so much when I am providing all the materials.