Open Wide!

This week, I had to get a root canal. What was already going to be an unpleasant procedure took a left turn into Comedy of the Absurd. The endodontist came in, looked at the x-rays of the culprit tooth in question, then turned around to say hello.

And he lit up like a 150-watt bulb: “Oh my! Do you mind if I take some pictures??” As he gestured at my legs.

I must have looked suitably puzzled because he went on to explain that his daughter was finishing up a double residency in dermatology and internal medicine, and she would be very interested in seeing some pictures. He was so enthusiastic that I figured anything that made him that happy would make a better experience for me, so I agreed.

He took some pictures with his cell phone, then set it down on the counter and we got down to business. Just as the novocaine hit, his phone buzzed. It was his daughter, asking questions, which he then relayed to me.

Now by this point, I was laying back in the exam chair, with a plastic frame thing, draped in sterile latex, holding my mouth open. And the dentist was asking me questions that required more than a yes or no answer. The only sound I could make was somewhat akin to that of Frankenstein’s monster, and the entire right side of my mouth was completely numb.

You try answering questions about your medical history under those conditions and see how you do. What ensued was a frantic sort of pantomime on my part, with the dentist and his assistants making guesses as to what my wild gesticulations could possibly mean.

If they guessed correctly, I gave them the thumbs-up, and he then relayed my answers back to his daughter. This back and forth game of charades went on for a good 20 minutes as he drilled out the tooth, and cleaned and filled it. At the end of the process, I had a filled tooth and the dentist was pleased that I was willing to help.

At least it kept me entertained while the dental drill was going.

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