Happens to everybody, doesn’t it? Sometime, somewhere, one tooth will signal its unhappiness with the state of being. I normally ignore these early signals, and try to lull the tooth with false promises of the ‘things will get better soon’and ‘just a passing matter’ types. When that doesn’t appease the fellow, I go into Combiflam mode. This appears to pacify the fellow for a while, but just for a while. Then, the tooth lets me know in no uncertain terms that he (or she – I am not sure about the gender of the tooth) is, if not exactly disgruntled, far from gruntled. This makes a visit to the dentist necessary. Which I quite enjoy – at least to the dentist I have been visiting for two decades now.
Great fellow he is. A football freak – as much as I am. His TV plays football most of the time when I am there – interrupted by some world cup cricket nowadays. Having been trained in Germany, his fav team is Bayern – I have yet to meet a German who doesn’t support Bayern; where are the supporters of Schalke, or Dortmund, or the other teams of the Bundesliga? Maybe they don’t get expat assignments. My doc also believes in the medicinal efficacy of single malts, and Old Monk. Which makes him my soulmate.
He has other nice characteristics too. Very cheerful guy – he doesn’t want to believe that toothaches can hurt that much. Pleas to use novocaine fall on deaf ears. He justifies the pain by saying that I am a grown up boy (boy!!) and tells me about tough patients he has seen, and the weaklings he has encountered – he seems to feel that I belong to the first category; lying on the patient’s chair, I am convinced that I belong to the latter. But that doesn’t cut any ice with him.
Throughout the entire procedure, he makes little squealing noises – reminds me of a squirrel digging through his winter hoard and finding some choice titbit in some unexpected corner. He also makes encouraging noises like ‘just two more minutes’, ‘you can hit the Old Monk in another half hour’, and ‘I think I can save the tooth’.
Finally, after what appears to be a superhuman effort, he emerges from the cavernous space of my open mouth, holding up a trophy, much like Howard Carter must have done when he emerged from Tutankhamun’s tomb. The pain and discomfort has ceased, and the promise of Old Monk lightens my heart. I reject offers of carrying the trophy home in triumph. And we plan to meet after a week so he can check how the wound is doing and what, if any, are the next steps. And then, back to the football game on TV, unless some rude patient is waiting outside clamouring for attention.
(first posted on Mar 27 2007)