« The Joy of Dental Work (And a Tale of True Love) »

I jest, of course.

I am so fuggin' embarrassed to say this, but it has been since the Clinton administration since I went to a dentist. And more embarrassingly, this is the first term I am talking about! Late in the first term, but in the first term, nonetheless. It's a damn shame, and really, it's just a long list of excuses I have to offer. Anyway, finally, I have a job that is taking care of that with insurance. I don't think there is ever a time when any of us look forward to going to the dentist. Last time I was there in April 1996, dude told me I needed to have a deep cleaning below the gums, and maybe even have my wisdom teeth yanked so that they didn't mess up my earlier orthodontic work. Well, having all that heaved on me at once sent me running the other direction, and in the intervening years, things didn't really get better. The wisdom teeth did mess up my orthodontically corrected teeth, somewhat. But the overall scene was just a mess of stuff, that no matter how I cleaned, just didn't get shiny and new like they should be.

My main excuse for not going was money. I guess I was under the impression things were going to be critically expensive. At times my dad offered to pay when he struck one deal or another that would put some money in the kitty. That never happened, and for most of those years, I was working as an independent contractor, and a financially irresponsible one at that. When I think of all the gear I bought like my life depended on it, I feel sort of stupid for not chanelling some dough to my dental needs. But fear of a dentist will do that, especially when looking at that rather disturbing prescription for work. Money, after my main days of independent work, sucked even worse because when those days came to an end, it was a 9/11 world that crippled the music biz that I was involved in from 1995 till about early 2003. Finally, in late 2003 I got my current job, and they were the first that I ever worked that even offered a benefits package. I just got my eligibility in May. I get new glasses too, maybe today, so it's already paying off.

The cleaning I had was a little less grievous than I had anticipated but it was still a day racked with nervous energy. My stomach felt like it was inside out all day till I left. I had some serious buildup in places, and the embarrassing news is that as they chipped away with some grinder tool, it was like—God, this is disgusting and embarrassing to think about—gravel getting cast about all over the inside of my mouth. But now it is gone, at least above the gums. My gums were looking pretty sad too, and that will have to be addressed too, after the deep scaling. Man. The sensation of actually being able to FEEL my teeth, and not a rather smooth buildup that made them seem like one tooth (as I ran my tongue around them on the inside) was weird. It feels smooth, but smooth like licking a ribcage. And, the most odd thing is that now there is actually open space between my bottom teeth, instead of a more or less solid wall of teeth and gunk. It makes swishing water around an interesting thing, and in the few meals since cleaning, eating has been an interesting thing, as a little part of my tongue gets snagged in the space and in a few cases gives me the sensation that I have a couple teeth that are about to fall out. No such thing in actuality, but for a moment, it's just dread, till I realize the bottom of my tongue got hooked in for just a nanosecond. Weird. What I am glad of is this: despite all the disrepair, it appears as if there is no obvious decay, and everything seems to actually look okay to the outside, so it's not like I look like some old hag with little stalagmites and stalactites of brown and ivory teeth. No, these still appear to be normal. Sigh of relief.

In my speech class of late '03, there was a young woman who worked as a dental assistant who gave a speech on periodontal disease. She had props, pictures and stuff. Man, that was a tense eight minutes, listening to her talk. I mean, like repulsive. I got more tense in watching that than when I watched the Pearl and Berg beheading videos. No shit. Shit, she may as well have been describing nuclear (or noo-kyu-lar) holocaust! Damn, I felt like shit all night that night.

And now a tale of love...

Kelli had to have a wisdom tooth pulled on the same day and time as I rediscovered the joy of the dentist's jackhammer. She found me in the chair, wincing at the occasional jab to my gums, and offered to hold my hand. I declined because I was almost done, but how sweet is that? Then we went home in our own cars and savored the true joy of being a couple—doing things together, in sickness and in health!

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