I drink coffee through as straw as instructed by the Dental Devils and sulk. Another visit to the dentist brings more bad news. Ten months after surgery we are still struggling. I am sorely tempted to clamp a bag of espresso to my hip and drink it intravenously, just to avoid all possible current and future mouth issues. However, I don’t want to tempt fate. It seems only a tiny step until I’ll be old enough to wear a colostomy bag instead, an area of fashion as yet untouched by Calvin Klein.
The word ‘dentist’ and all derivatives have been banned from the household. I refuse to allow my children to pick up negative vibes. They will have American attitudes towards dentistry if it kills me. Spouse and I will not whisper about the subject either, because our offspring have more finely attenuated hearing that the average owl. They absorb our body language and the instinctive shivers that pass between us. Their father’s facial expression needs no interpretation. When he clamps his hands over his mouth and screws up his eyes, all three small people wince in response.
I tried so hard to be jolly with the new pharmacist but we do not appear to enjoy the same sense of humour. This is probably just as well for other patients patronizing this establishment.
I toss back another couple of antibiotics as instructed by the dentist. This is a preamble to another fishing expedition for various assorted hardware, to include but not limited to, loose screws and lumps of cement. I am sadly disappointed with the dental community, not for their lack of dentistry skills but for their complete failure to comprehend Elephant jokes. What manner of medical professional is unfamiliar with such hilarity? Are they all childless or are they just foreign?
“Don’t worry,” he soothed, as I submitted to yet another x-ray to ensure that I am totally radioactive, if not magnetic.
“So you’re just looking for just those two things then?” I ask, an unnecessarily.
“Just allow ten days for the infection to calm down?”
“That’s right. Everything will be just fine.”
For two pins I would just curl up under the desk and admit defeat. Take up permanent residence. In fact I would, but they don't have an espresso machine.
“I’m sure we’ll find whatever they are, when we open you up. Very tiny.” I should probably ask an intelligent question, or maybe two? I should probably ask an intelligent medically question, but I can't think of any, apart from 'does it hurt?' but I already know the answer. I am heartily sick of being the tiniest percentage of dental patients, I want a different spot on the bell curve.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just bad luck?” I beg.
“Good luck that we found it just in time!” It doesn’t feel lucky to me.
“Right. Let’s hope you just find those two then, and not any elephants?” I offer, as a means of dispersing the tension, although it may only be my own. The radiologist and the surgeon exchange meaningful glances. The radiologist steps closer. She has more qualifications after her name than would fit on the average business class envelope. She smiles to expose her birthright, a perfect line of pearly enamel tombstones. “You know,” she says tapping the x-ray, “an elephant would show up on this.” I examine her face to locate a smirk, spot a wink or some other tiny clue that we are on the same wavelength, as I don’t want to keep making the same mistake over and over again. Blank. I give up. I go home.
What is commonly referred to as ‘dry mouth’ in the States, would more accurately be described as glue mouth. I pout at my son as he demonstrates his vastly superior lip closure, him of the speech delayed camp.
“You are dah suck again?”
“I am dah suck too. See?” he slurps, just to show off. “You can be do dat too?” he taunts. I temper my reply, “well no actually. As it happens I’m having a hard time getting to the bottom of the mug.” I try and remove the sneary tone from my voice.
“Ooo, you are dah dribble.” I dab my chin and demonstrate my perfect mastery of etiquette and table manners.
“Ooo, not dah mouth. Dah mouth is being clean.” I examine the napkin. It is clean, not a coffee stain of dampness. I suppress swear words and dash off to the mirror in the bathroom because my nose is still numb and lies to me frequently. Footfalls follow me at high speed. Oh for a bit of privacy! I peer into the mirror. My son inserts himself between me and the mirror, so that we can both look at my reflection, although not admiringly. Oh the joy of joint attention!
“See! You are dah snot!” I grab a handful of toilet paper and dab gently, as nerve endings are thoroughly unreliable around here.
“Don be sad.”
“I’m not sad,” I respond far to quickly and in the wrong tone.
“Soon you are not dah snot. Soon you are dah big sucker.”
Whilst it sounds like an insult, it's really a rallying cry, a supportive gesture. Yet another demonstration of the heartless, soulless autism that we know and love so well. Rats to the "Theory of Mind."
Ain’t that the truth.
2 hours ago