Dateline: 10 September 2015
I voluntarily submitted to having a man pull tooth #13 out of my jaw earlier today.
It was only the bottom half of the tooth. The top half was ground off many years ago before having a root canal and crown installed. The enamel crown, with its stainless steel post, has come out a few times in the past couple of years. When that happened, I went to my dentist and he glued it back.
But the last time I went to have it re-glued, my dentist said it looked like the tooth had developed a crack. He took an x-ray to verify and recommended that I have it pulled. And so I did.
My teeth are in better condition than some people’s teeth, and worse than others. Unfortunately, when I was a boy, I did not go to the dentist for a period of many years. I didn’t go because, frankly, my parents couldn’t afford it. When I finally did get to the dentist, I needed a lot of fillings. I could have used braces too, but that option was totally off the table, financially speaking. The fact is, I’ve gotten by with a few crowded and slightly overlapping teeth pretty well.
So my dentist (a man who I sincerely like, and who has been our family dentist for many years) made an appointment for me to have #13 removed. He suggested that I might want to be anesthetized for the procedure.
I had one other tooth (a wisdom tooth) removed about ten years ago and decided to be knocked out for that. It was two days before I could fully function again. My mental and motor skills were slow to recover. I think that dentist overdosed me. It’s just a hunch. I got bad vibes off that guy. Marlene and I refer to him as the Nazi Dentist.
So I went to a different oral surgeon today. Dr. Brady has been pulling teeth for 20 years. I asked him if he keeps a tally. He said he doesn’t, but in 20 years he thinks he’s seen it all. Dr. Brady took the time to talk with me and explain things. I liked him a lot.
Of course, seeing as I’m a new patient, I had to fill out several forms. One form was two pages of questions (in small type) about my overall health. It asked about medications I’m on, different physical problems I’ve had, and so on. I suspect most everyone reading this has filled out similar questionnaires.
When Dr. Brady came in the room where I was seated, and all ready to be worked on, He had the questionnaire in hand. He expressed surprise that I had circled “no” to every health-related question. Meaning, that I had no health problems or situations now or in my past, and that I was not on any medications, and never have been.
Dr. Brady said it is extremely rare that anyone he sees who is over 50 years of age circles “no” to all the questions. I am 57 years old.
Then he asked when the last time I had a physical exam was. I told him it was a very long time ago. It was actually when I was 18 years old, but I didn’t want to say that.
He looked at the monitor in front of me, showing my blood pressure and told me I had borderline hypertension (145/86). I asked if my blood pressure might be high because I was a little nervous about having my tooth pulled, and he said, "Yes." But he quickly added that I really should get examined by a doctor. He even told me that I really should get a colonoscopy.
I explained that if I got a physical exam, they would probably find something wrong, and I feel pretty good for the most part.
“Do you smoke?”, he asked
“No, I’ve never smoked”
“Do you take street drugs?”
“No, I’ve never taken any drugs.”
“You never smoked pot?”
“Do you drink?”
“I’ll have a little hard cider around Thanksgiving time.”
“Do you take vitamins or herbal supplements?”
“What do you take?”
“Um… I can’t remember offhand. Whatever my wife gives me.”
Dr. Brady numbed up my tooth with novocaine and proceeded to pull #13. He talked me through it. As he was wiggling the tooth back and forth he commented that I had very dense bone structure; the tooth was not coming out easily. But he got it all, in one piece, in short time, and that was that.
I have no dental insurance. The bill was $375. One hundred dollars of that was for a “comprehensive oral evaluation.” I didn’t mind paying that much. I felt like Dr, Brady had treated me fairly and professionally. We had a good conversation (oral evaluation) and he answered all my questions. I actually learned a lot. In short, I didn’t feel like I was on a tooth-pulling assembly line, or perhaps I should say, “disassembly line.”
I left Dr. Brady’s office feeling pretty good. I suggested that Marlene drive to the nearby supermarket where we get Kombucha. I felt like I needed Kombucha.
But before she returned from the store with the Kombucha, what I really needed was the prescription for Motrin (ibuprophen). I don’t do pain very well, and the ride home was no fun. But once the pain killer kicked in, I was actually able to get some productive work done around here, like write this her essay.
Part of the title of today’s essay includes the word “Pride.” That’s because, to be perfectly transparent with you, I was feeling a measure of pride when Dr. Brady expressed amazement that, at 57 years of age, I have absolutely no health issues (that I know about), and am not on any medications.
But I didn’t feel prideful for long. That’s because God impressed upon foolish little me that I have nothing to be prideful about. The health I currently experience is a gift from God. I have good health (as far as I know) because of God’s grace and mercy towards me.
What’s more, the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, as it pleases Him to do (blessed be the name of the Lord—Job 1:21). That's a sobering thought.
Besides that, I had #13 pulled from my jaw today, and my dentist has told me that I have four more teeth (#1, #2, #3, and #4) that should be pulled.
In the final analysis, it’s a humbling thing to have to have your teeth pulled.