And Missing #13

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. 


Anonymous said...

I feel that the reason that people like you, who feel fine and therefore are not on any medications, are few and far between is directly caused by a distinct lack of faith, even among those who consider themselves the faithful. Their faith rests in so-called 'scientific' medicine. If they have trouble sleeping at night, they consult a doctor who prescribes them a drug to 'solve' their sleeping issue. This pill is then followed by a whole slew of medications designed to cancel each other's side effects. Just a small amount of prayer each day would allow this person to realize that they just need some outdoor exercise to sleep better, or some other such solution which is a lifestyle and not a chemical problem.

You say that your health comes directly from God, and in a sense you are correct, but it also comes from your faith in God, without which you would not be receiving the gift of health. By having faith that you cannot have complete control over your world while at the same time trusting that the world is under the control of a benevolent force, you create the atmosphere that allows your world to work out well enough for you. Many times we have to stop and accept that we don't always get what we want, but we always get what we need. We just have to be patient, have faith, and work hard, and what we need will be provided to us without fail.

WhatIfWeAllCared? said...

At 51 years the only "medications" I'm on are: 2 aspirin at bedtime (mini stroke last April), 8000 EU vitamin D3 mornings (bone pain), ginkgo (when I can remember to buy it!!) and dried poke berries (for arthritis as needed) . . . to busy to be sick!!

Clinton Johnson said...

Well I don't know what changed, but I can now read your blog over lunch at work again... and I have to say, it's like a nice cool glass of spearmint lemonade on a hot summer's day. I can't tell you how much I wish there was a Godly Christian man, a few year further down the road himself than me, who enjoyed gardening and could teach me some tricks and impart wisdom in me that lived nearby... but, as God has yet to introduce me to him, you are certainly the next best thing!

I look forward to meeting you one day in glory... which might be a whole lot sooner than a lot of people seem to think!

Rozy Lass said...

I am with my 89 yo father right now; he just had a kidney stone removed; the doctor and staff were amazed that at his age he is not on any medication. We attribute it to good genes and clean living. I'm 57 and was not on any meds either, but had a little heart problem recently (brought on by chronic stress, a whole other story) and now have to take a low-dose aspirin daily. Besides good genes which we don't get to choose, living a clean life, eating a healthful diet and having a strong faith are truly the factors to good health.

Michael Warwick said...

I had #7 and #8 removed this spring, like you they were both crowns that had broken off and cracked. I'm 67 and also answered no to the questions before they put me under. I was out for less than an 45 min. and then out the door. I only had to use Advil for 1 day. I do not go to any Dr. unless there is a need. I take care of problems with basic first aid, so far that has been enough. Just use common sense and trust in God.

Phil Crome said...

Congratulations on your good health, and on your successful dentistry as well. I would like to gently suggest two things: 1) that you not shine on your hypertension, however mild, and 2) that you review your family history with your physician and take his recommendation regarding a colonoscopy. As regards 1), recent research shows that even mild hypertension can have significant effects on longevity and cardiac health, and as regards 2), my mother went through Stage IV colon cancer a few years ago, in no small part because she had not had a colonoscopy when she should have. I've become better-educated about colon cancer than I ever wanted to be, and it's an insidious thing indeed. Take care of yourself.

author said...

What are you going to do about the blank spots in your mouth after your teeth are pulled? Don't they suggest you have a bridge or implant or something or will you just live with it?

Herrick Kimball said...

That's a good question. For now, I have bag of small marshmallows, and when I go to town I just plug a marshmallow into the spaces. ;-)