Friday afternoon it always happens on Friday afternoon, doesn't it? a filling gave way on the far side of my face, resulting in approximately a 6.5-level pain, where 1 = "barely noticeable" and 10 = "please, please kill me now." Approximately forty seconds after 8 am Monday, I dialed up my dentist; he could see me at two that afternoon. I got darn near nothing done that morning, being unable to focus on anything other than the pounding on the inside of my head. I left the shop at a quarter to two, arriving just in time to review several thousand pages of newly-computerized health records. (I made exactly one change in the entire database: there is no L in "hypertension.") Now I've been going to this guy for years, since he bought out the practice of a fellow who had retired; I was not expecting to see his shop expanded into next door, or a new DDS on staff.

The advantage of dealing with the same doctor all the time, if you ask me, is this: we've learned not to BS each other about anything. He looked at the hole and suggested that a root canal was possible, but it required disposing of the existing filling plus the filling of that new hole. Lose it, said I: it seems a bit loose, and we're ultimately buying only a little time. Several pages full of mandatory disclosures "CYA," he said, and of course he was right and the operation began. I learned two things: one, it wasn't that loose; and two, it does not benefit me to shriek in pain.

I wrote a moderately-large check, and asked about "the new guy." This was the point where I learned that the new guy was actually a girl, and anyway she was busy with a patient, so there would be no meetup today. I walked back into the office at almost exactly 3, and attempted to get some work done.

About 4:25, management noted that I was actually in the building, and a discussion took place between occupants of two desks, neither of whom could comprehend why I'd come back to the shop. I pointed out that I'd been there for a good hour and a half, which prompted the following: "You do get sick time, you know."

I chose not to make an issue of it. And really, the dental office is only about three miles from home, so I burned up two-thirds of a gallon of gas making the return trip. I wasn't about to explain that I was shivering in the classic post-anesthetic style this is the first time I ever got a face full of nitrous oxide to go with the shots full of Comfortably Numb and the last thing I wanted to do was shiver at home: stuff like that pushes my scare reflex to the top of the scale, and I figured if I was at the shop, somebody might actually notice if I dropped dead. And the shivery stuff quickly gave way to a hundred and something fever, which didn't make me feel any better.

But here's the punch line. Having dug rather deeply, the dentist was concerned with the possibility of infection, and he was getting ready to order up a week's worth of antibiotics when the one and only entry on the allergy page popped up: "Slight reaction to amoxicillin." "You want something else?" he asked. No, I said: I know exactly what this stuff will do to me, and it's merely annoying. A totally new antibiotic, I argued, might have some unexpected nasty effects. He agreed, and did it my way.

Of course, the real joy of this is getting a script for two dozen Lortab, maybe four of which I'll actually need. I did, you may be sure, have to present some ID at the pharmacy, but what the hell: at least it's not that wicked pseudoephedrine stuff.

The Vent

  1 May 2012

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 Copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Hill