« The Exorcism (1 of 3) »

Finally, today was the date of the first surgery on my gums. Last night Kelli drove down from school a day early to hold my hand like a total sweetheart. We got to bed late. It must have been almost two in the morning before I was really out. I awoke to my phone alarm buzzing before the calm opening notes of the Brokeback Mountain theme music. I use that music because it doesn't come crashing in, and it actually sort of sounds like it is meant to sound, even on a speaker about the size of a thumbnail. And, if I don't actually get up, the tune is a beautiful way to start off the day. I usually awaken to the vibration that comes first though, and today it was at 7:55. I had about an hour and fifteen minutes to get ready. So I fixed myself up a nice eggs, bacon, and toast breakfast, knowing full well such a hearty meal would not be had for hours if not days. Outside it was raining; not ferociously, but delightfully so after a very dry year. It was one of those days that was made for staying indoors.

I had other business to tend to that would keep me indoors today. Kelli drove me down to the periodontist not far from our old house. This doctor's office is a place I love and hate now. I hate it because I had all the opportunities in the world to avoid the place. I love it because there is salvation with the doctor-priest who will wave his magic wand over me, and mutter a few words, among other things. I have had a cough for the last week and a half, and today it decided to make itself known in the hour or so before I went under the knife (or whatever the hell he used). I was tense and sort of shivering in nervous anticipation. (Buber the dog shivers that way before he goes for a walk, but I think he does it from delight.) The receptionist took my "money" before the procedure, good for half the total work to be done. Then a trip to the bathroom to collect myself, and into the chair I went.

They were trying to take my blood pressure reading with a digital device and it kept reading too high. Then they tried another device which had fresh batteries, and it too was not satisfactory. The doctor got wind of this and said that maybe I was not ready, or that today would be better off if we only did one quadrant instead of a whole side, top and bottom. I didn't really want to hear about that. This tension was enough and I already had at least one other appointment to look forward to, and dividing the job further was not happy news. There would be three of these mornings? He said since my situation was as bad as it was, this might be a big enough project to take on at this time. The assistant took a bit of time to calm me down with a bit of small talk about mothers in law who beg for grandchildren. I never thought that would calm me down, but it must have worked, though I think that establishes my fear of dental surgery is greater than that of a mother in law who might "get her way" (sorry, Kay).

Anyhow, the first half hour from 9:30 to 10 was pretty much that sort of thing—calming me down so they could work. They had to fumble with some software on a screen behind me, but it sounded like they had a map of what was to be done. Shortly before 10 am, the chair went back and the syringes fired off their magic elixir into my gums on the top right, and we were off and running. The coughing stopped too, for some reason. I think my brain was allocating resources to what had to be front-and-center for the next hour or so. I had nifty face-surrounding shades put on to keep the bright light from fatiguing me, and to keep any blood splashes away. But I was content to just shut my eyes, try to breathe, and fight the urge to climb up the walls.

Some of that was unfounded though. The anesthetic was pretty damned good. I don't know the real order of events, but I do know he first cleared my gums out of the way which on my end felt as if he was bumping them with a rubber spatula. Then there was some time with a motorized/electronic grinder thing which he used to grind down irregularities on the exposed bone, to smooth out the pocketing and rough edges from the random bacterially-induced loss that was the chain I forged link by link over the last years. This part of things actually didn't hurt at all. The tone was piercing but mostly consistent. The time I was there last, doing the general planing work in July, was much more insane in the way the tone resonated my teeth and bones, sometimes hitting a real hotspot of sympathetic vibration in my head. He did about 20 minutes of this bone carving work and then it was on to something else, which I think was the gum work itself, which involved cutting back the parts that had to go, and I guess some other work to give the gums a clean start, so they might have a chance to reattach to bone and teeth now shorn of their toxic and random surfaces.

The next thing I know was at work was that he was putting me back together again. I opened my eyes just a few times and before I knew it, it was time for needles and thread. He worked quite fast, and not much was said even to his assistants, so I didn't have the benefit of narration. As it was, I was more at ease in part because the white noise roar of the vacuum tube and water spritzer nozzle masked the more articulate sounds of speech. When the vacuum was taken out and shut off, it was like having a blanket taken of my ears. I sort of wanted it back in so the clang of tools on enamel and muttered phrases wouldn't register as real sounds. I had far fewer gag reflexes today for some reason. The general "blind" cleaning in July was full of such responses, which slowed the thing down some. My tongue is a staunch defender of its territory so being pried open and having three or four tools bumping around is just too much usually. But today it was manageable, more so considering the cough was lying in wait the whole time.

Then it was over. Considering how months of dread, a short night's sleep, a cough, and more than a $500 copay (for half the work—after a credit from an earlier visit—ultimately the total bill is $1300 not including prescription and other incidentals) all conspired to make it hell, upon leaving, it was actually okay. The dressing they gave me was like silly putty that was pressed all along the row of teeth. It is inside and out, sitting just astride the boundary between tooth and gum. The stitches will be in for a week. This means that my third appointment will be on the the 17th, with the stitches ostensibly due to be taken out on Christmas Eve. We'll see how that goes. In between the originally scheduled dates of today and the 17th, I will have another surgery date next week on the 12th to get the stuff that wasn't done today.

Kelli drove me home, and the rest of the day was just hanging around. For her, this is finals week with many papers to write. For me, bed with an ice pack and some reading or tunes. Today got more and more sore as anesthetic wore off (it's about 9 pm now). Minimal talking. I haven't eaten anything, but I did get some diet-friendly shakes down, which aren't anything to chew of course, and don't have to be flossed out afterwards. Maybe a few pounds might be shed in the process. That wouldn't be a bad thing; I need to keep the general practitioner doctor at bay too.

While chilling out, I got a call from Mitch who offered me a gig for tomorrow. Interesting timing, considering that I was just told not to do any lifting or straining. Man. Mitch's timing is impeccable that way! Even last week would have been good. Or maybe in three days. Or in January!

Time for ice again.

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