Thursday, June 30, 2011

Open wide

"Open really wide."

There are occasions for which such request would lead to great, likely unbloggable, things. This, however, was not one of them. I inhaled and squinted as light bounced from the mirror being inserted into my mouth. It was the day before I was due to leave for a month in Japan and I was having my first tooth filling. 

This rather ill timed event had been instigated by a conversation with my advisors the previous Friday. They had pointed out that since I would no longer be their postdoc once I officially took up my position in Japan, all my employee benefits would cease. The most important of these, my health coverage, was exempt since Canada's socialized medicine meant that it was tied to my residency and not my employment. This would end with my visa in October. I therefore waved the information away... until it occurred to me I hadn't seen a dentist in about three years. 


The reason I hadn't been to a dentist was because I hated them. All of them. They had drills and needles and scalpels and you couldn't even pretend it wasn't happening because they were RIGHT THERE in your face. Literally. What was more, I hadn't really needed much in the way of said drills, needles and scalpels and therefore I was irrationally scared. And there was really no point in trying to talk me out of that.

Prior to this particular Tuesday, the only time I had needed more than a clean at the dentist was when my top two wisdom teeth were removed. That procedure had been triggered by an infection in one of the teeth and --after a transatlantic flight where I failed to perform the extraction myself with Virgin Atlantic's plastic cutlery-- neutralized all concern regarding drills and needles and scalpels. Plus, each tooth only took two minutes to remove. 

I actually needed two fillings. One was so small that no anesthetic was needed. The other was going to require more work. I shuffled along the corridor at work, expressing my highly legitimate concern to those I met.

"It's not really a drill, it's like a sand paperer." One of my friends assured me.

Clearly this was lies. It was going to be a HUGE PNEUMONIC DRILL probably supported by two other dentists as it was lowered into my mouth. 

.... I'd had all weekend to think about this, can you tell?

It was probably a good thing the dental surgery was only across campus. If it had been further I'd probably have run for the hills and even now be living a life as a toothless hermit in the foothills of the Rockies. They were also extremely kind to me. The dental nurse held my hand while they gave me the injection (I might be 30, but at that moment I felt about three) and after that I couldn't feel anything so it really didn't matter what they were doing. In fact, the hardest thing was to hold my mouth open for half an hour, but the dentist gave me a block to bite down on so I could rest my muscles. 

The anesthetic wore off after a couple of hours and the following day I wasn't able to see or feel where the work had been done. Pretty amazing really. 

Oh and the drill? Totally a sandpaperer. Didn't actually require multiple people to lift it. I knew you were wondering too.

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