2.05.2007

The Tooth and Nothing But

I went to the dentist for a cleaning (of my wallet, as it turned out) on Tuesday. Whilst I was waiting, these two other ladies struck up a conversation. Something like this:

Mabel: You here for an appointment?

Gladys: (turns white) Oh no! No! No, I'm here to pick up my husband. (whispers) He's gotta have three teeth pulled. Been in there for two hours already. No, I have to take valium just to drive someone else to the dentist. Just thinking about it, my heart starts pounding.

Mabel: (nods appreciatively, goes back to reading the book of Job)

Gladys: I had tooth what needed to be pulled once. But the dentist convinced me to 'save the tooth'--save it, he said--and have a ROOT CANAL. Oh, Lawsey, I shouldn'ta done. (nods sagely) But I did. He numbed it up, but it didn't do any good. When he hit that nerve, I thought I'd die. I'd rather give BIRTH. I'd rather give birth every day than do that again. And a few days later the tooth cracked itself in half and I had to come back. He pulled it then all right, but I got a dry socket. You know what that is?

Mabel: I hear they're bad.

Gladys: As long as I kept my tongue in the hole it was okay, but oo-ee if I took it out to eat or talk... So he had to fill it up with some kinda stuff until the bone filled in.

I was thinking it might not be such a bad thing if she had another one.

Gladys: (whispers loud enough for the receptionist to hear) Do you know what dentist it was? (dramatic pause) This 'un right here! (points in the presumed direction of dentist) Him! But it's funny--it done me good being terrified of the dentist and all. I had to have another tooth pulled later on. Not by him (pointing again), but I was so terrified that the dentist sent me off to the surgeon to have me put to sleep. And you know what? The end of the tooth was attached to my sinuses, and would have left a big hole if I hadn't been right there in surgery to fix it. So it was a good thing I was so scared, and the dentist done said so afterwards. He laughed about it.

Mabel: I see those poor people over at Angelo's that look like they've been through it.

Gladys: Well, over there you can get a tooth pulled for $35. Here it'll cost you $300. If you have to have five or six of em pulled--people just can't afford that.

Mabel: They come out with their mouths all full of gauze. (shakes her head)

Gladys: Mostly they pull them all out and fit them for dentures right there and then. Lawsy, I'd think that would hurt! Go in with teeth and come out with that thing stuck in your mouth. Have to learn how to talk and eat all over again. My sister had to have her jawbone ground down so her dentures would fit right. I went to Angelo's once for a filling. I MADE SURE I told the girl--I'm here for a filling. I don't want no teeth pulled! She said, you just sit over on that side. We won't pull your teeth.

Mabel: Still, at least they have a place to go.

Gladys: Yes, thank goodness for Angelo's.

Receptionist (to me): The dentist will see you now.

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