Aug 29, 2005

The Root of Evil - Part One

There's nothing like a dental emergency to really make you appreciate a skilled dentist. In particular, my dentist Dr. John Scanlon of Boylston Dental gives new meaning to the term artisan.

I am partial to Dr. Scanlon as I've been a patient for a few years and remained one in good standing because I just kept coming back for regularly scheduled cleanings. Mind you, I wasn't a flosser--but more on that later.

I stopped in for a quick look-see under the hood while on vacation last week because my post/crown was feeling a little loose again and wanted him to verify that it wasn't just my imagination. Having a tooth (even a fake tooth) slip out of your jaw while eating is an awful sensation. It is not one that you ever want to replicate if you can help it. In fact, this past May found Dr. Scanlon re-applying cement onto my post hoping that this time it would stick in my head just a little longer than last time.

You can see where this tale is going, can't you? The "talk" was inevitable and I was left with the decision to either have a dental implant or a permanent bridge to help keep my teeth in my head. Both options are fabulously expensive. As my Delta Dental insurance will cover $1000.00 for the bridge and nothing for the implant - the decision was an easy one. Living with my decision was harder because it meant a postponement for my trip to
Las Vegas to visit M & M World in November. (Yes, candy is no longer my best friend. I get it.)

Because the problematic tooth still had the root in my jaw (post root-canal), I had to have oral surgery to remove the root. After a month of healing, I would then be fitted for a permanent bridge which would give me super strength and more importantly--durability. I woud be able to chomp a steak or crack a walnut all in one hearty bite without every worrying that my fake tooth would fall out. So Dr. Scanlon sent me off to an oral surgeon last Tuesday for the dreaded extraction with the promise that I wouldn't feel a thing because I could have anesthesia.

My sister-in-law agreed to be my designated driver and brought me to the oral surgeon's office promptly for 8:30am. From the moment I passed through reception, I knew that I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

Let me tell you about that first room. It completely resembled what I would imagine an alien spaceship would look like if they were to perform cavity checks and probing. The walls were stained a depressing murky mauve and positioned right next to my chair was a two-level stainless steel cart chocked full of very scary looking dental instruments.

After checking in and being processed to the first room, I was prepped for surgery which involved a temperature and blood pressure check. The nurse was impressed with my excellent blood pressure considering I was about to go into surgery. I was thinking to myself, "What do I have to stress out about? I'm being put to sleep.” However, the Cadillac treatment of snoozy fumes wasn't for me due to a snag with a potential pre-existing medical condition so I was shot full of Novocain instead. Grrreat....

I was then moved to the operating room where I got to meet the oral surgeon for the first time. ( I actually had already gotten a sneak peak of his ugly mug because hanging in the room was this 8x10 mocked-up photograph of him featured on the front cover of one of those fake Golfer magazines that anyone can have made up at Six Flags. I took an instant dislike to him for having the vanity to actually hang that in his operating room thinking somehow that it was clever next to his diploma from some unknown New York dental university alongside his induction into the National Dental Honor Society.)

After the drama of determining he could not actually put me to sleep, I decided to just go for it having the affected area of my jaw shot full of gobs of Novocain. I silently dared the assistant to re-check my blood pressure. C'mon. Go for it. I bet it's off the charts now!! The Hack told me this extraction would be just like having a cavity filled--NO BIG DEAL. Word of Adviced: Never trust anyone comparing a root extraction to having a cavity filled. If they tell you that then they are lying through their teeth (pun intended).

The Hack hooked his meaty gloved index finger into my mouth like a vet would a dog to examine my temporary bridge. He wasn't too happy that it was still on and made a fuss about having to remove it. He began tugging and yanking down on the bridge to get it to pop off, but after much groaning and bugged-out eyes he decided it was at this point that maybe he should start thinking about applying Novacain.

Small talk ensued as he was applying the needles. "So what do you do for a living?" I joked back, "Well, I'm an inventory analyst at Staples Corporate. We're in the middle of Back to School so right now I'm making sure that all the children across America have plenty of staplers and staples for school." ha ha ha ~ he didn't even laugh nor did he crack a smile. After my gums were numbed up, he returned to the room to begin the extraction. During the procedure, he actually said to me, "Kim, we'll get you all set and you'll be able to get back to your classes tomorrow."


Then it hit me. He wasn't even paying attention to a thing I said. He just heard 'Back to School' and assumed I was a student. Unbelievable. I hate it when people don't pay attention to their own small talk.

The sensation of having The Hack remove my tooth's root is indescribable, but I will try to tell you nonetheless. First, it was awful. During the times when he had to use his hammer and chisel tools, I just wanted to leap up from the chair. My face felt like a boulder that was being honed into the sculpture of a dead president. Tap, Tap, Crunch!! It didn't necessarily hurt, but the sensation of feeling a creaking in your head as the root is yanked away from the jaw bone is torture at its best. I should have been in snoozy land. It didn't matter that I wasn't feeling any immediate pain. In retrospect, pain would have been preferable because at least I could match the inner sensation of creaking in my jaw bone to an actual result.

When it was all over, the hack stitched up my gums with dissolvable sutures and proceeded to try to put the temporary bridge back on over his handy-dandy work. He warned me that the cement he was using was 'archaic' and that I might have to go back to my dentist if the bridge came undone. He re-attached it and gave me thick wads of gauze to bite down hard on to let the cement harden. As I did so, I heard this cracking sound. Being an expert on cracking sounds, I alerted him that I thought my bridge had broken. Annoyed, he fish-hooked his thumb back under my tender partially swollen cheek and proceeded to tell me it was nothing-merely the cement settling around my teeth. He didn't even shine his light on me.

I was given a prescription for Vicodin and instructions to use a cold pack on my cheek every 30 minutes to help with the swelling. He once again commented about how I'd be back to class in no time and hastily left the operating room calling out that if I had any questions not to hesitate to call Dr. Scanlon. Nice. Don't call me; call your dentist because after all I only tore open your mouth.

I returned home filled with 4-hour intervals of Vicodin and severe soreness. Later in the day, I tentatively ran my tongue up and around his dirty work only to discover that all the stitches were sticking out all over my gum line. I found a little flashlight and opened my mouth as wide as I could stand it to see just how bad it all looked up there.

I thought it looked pretty good all things considered. But what did I know? Regretfully, there was still more fun to come.

Aug 27, 2005

Easy Rider

Mom was complaining to me last night about this new 80-year old woman who is a new resident at the nursing home. Apparently she likes to plaster on the makeup and has this annoying habit of applying mascara during mealtime. Not being able to take it anymore, my mom issued her an ultimatum: Either you take that bag off the table and put it on the floor where I don't have to see it or I'm gonna throw it across the room! None of those old ladies can mess with my mom and the lady took her bag off the table.

Mom went on to tell me how this new resident has a son who doesn't work and looks like a big dummy (her words, not mine!). He was in the other day wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt which caught my mom's eye because she used to be a bona-fide Harley Mamma. Overhearing that he was telling his mom that he just bought a really nice bike, my mother poked her nose in where it doesn't belong and asked, "What kind of bike is it?" "Oh, it's really lightweight." She asked, "Is it a low-rider or a full-dressed?" He looked at her and said, "Well, it's kinda tubular."

Turns out Junior spent $80 on a Huffy...not a Harley.

This revelation turned into a little rant from my mother about what a loser this son is and how he shouldn't be wearing Harley Davidson t-shirts unless he actually owns a motorcycle. I try to reason with her that he can wear whatever he wants to wear, but that only made her angrier.

"Did you know he brought up his mother a lousy bag of Cheetos the other day? She doesn't need Cheetos--what she needs is underwear! Big deal. A bag of Cheetos. What's that cost him? 89 cents? The woman needs clothes."

But somehow this new resident who is light in the clothes department manages to be heavy in the bright red lipstick department of which my mother doesn't approve and wears too much eyeshadow. "She doesn't need to wear all that crap!" says my mother indignantly. And I wonder to myself how many times I've bitten my tongue over the freak-show makeup combinations my Mother manages once the Avon lady delivers her monthly order. Or all the rings she wears on her fingers that make her look like a fortune teller.

But in all seriousness, I really wish I could have been there to see the look on my mom's face when the old lady's son told my mom proudly about his ten-speed. That would have been priceless. Or at the very least...worth 89 cents.

Aug 14, 2005

Surry Mountain Dam

This is a picture of the dam that I was caught speeding on this past Saturday. It doesn't look very high, but believe me when I say that my heart was racing and I couldn't wait to get off it!

Brothers In Farms

This past Saturday found the Perry clan squeezed into the family Saturn on our way to a Perry Family Reunion taking place at Surry Mountain Lake in New Hampshire.

My husband's side of the family all originated from Hardwick, Vermont. Spencer's grandfather moved from Spain to Vermont to become a farmer and raised a very, very large family of 6 sons and 1 daughter. (I may be slightly off on the headcount so you'll have to permit me so slack...let's just say there are alot.)

All of the children have passed on except for my father-in-law George and his remaining brother Francis. He still lives in Hardwick and being in his late 70's hasn't stopped him from cleaning the local bank and digging graves. The Perry boys are hardworking.

So when my father-in-law asked if we'd be interested in going up for a family reunion, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Being that both brothers are older now and distance keeps them apart, you never know when it will be their last chance to see each other.

We drove about an hour and a half up to Surry Mountain Lake. Our directions told us to take a right onto Surry Dam Road and immediately I found myself driving us all over this HUGE dam. As I guided the Saturn across this high altitude, all I could think about was that I'd give anything to be off this dam. It was too high and felt way too unprotected. There were roped guard-rails on each side of the dam which only gave me more of an incentive to push the pedal harder to get across faster. I hate bridges.

Apparently too fast. As we hit an unexpected dead-end at the end of the dam, a park ranger was happy to inform my father-in-law that we needed to slow down as the speed limit was 20mph. He then went on tell of seeing a bear chasing two deer just moments ago. My father-in-law apologized and got directions to the park and we turned the car around to head back over the dam. I drove slower this time, but my inside voice was swearing up a storm. Where were the signs posting the speed limit? Would someone really be walking across the damn and be all startled to see a white Saturn blazing across at speeds approaching 30 mph? Stupid park ranger in his stupid hat.

We arrived at the park and the reunion was in full swing. There were Perry's everywhere and we hardly recognized anyone. We had been asked to bring drinks and chairs, but really there wasn't any need. Francis' son Bruce and his daughter were true party planners in every sense of the word. There was plenty to eat and many places to sit. We looked over an old reunion photo album from 1964 when my mother-in-law wore a fashionable kerchief on her head and tossed her head back in a laugh that reminded me of Jackie O. I saw pictures of Spencer when he was a mere five years old wearing little boy overalls and looking uncomfortable being around all the grown-ups. Not much has changed.

Spencer, Katie and I kept mostly to ourselves throughout the day because this reunion was really more about two brothers getting together to see each other for maybe the last time. George is practical about everything and he knows that everytime he sees his brother Francis it could very well be the last time.

We all got together for a big family photo and then the first cousins (Spencer and Katie only this time) got a picture together. It was funny watching Spencer and Katie stand there because they really weren't part of the Perry family-more just along for the ride.

But at the end of the day when we were getting tired of being sociable and getting ready to leave, I happened to catch sight of a touching moment that made the trip worthwhile. I saw George over talking to Francis and they must have been saying their good-byes. George extended his hand and gave his brother a firm handshake which conveyed all the love and respect that two brothers could share on a hot sunny day amongst a brood of Perry's. No hugs or pats on the back were necessary. Just a handshake wishing each other well and a hope to see each other again.

I hope that my father-in-law gets to have many more handshakes in the future.

Aug 3, 2005

Miami Revisited

As we approach the three quarter mark of Summer being nearly over (THANK GOD!), I wanted to let you all know that the local DPW has begun encroaching upon my property laying above-ground pipes to create a new and improved water main.

I don't quite know how this will improve my daily life on Miami Street, but I do know that each and every day going forward brings me uncertainty. Will I be able to get out of my driveway to leave for work in the morning? Will I come home to discarded Dunkin Donuts coffee cups strewn all over my lawn? Will I be able to shower when they connect my house up to the temporary water pipes? It's all so very exciting.

Their photo-copied notice does say this whole 'project' will take about four weeks to finish. So today I begin the count-down. Be it known that it's August 3rd and right now there is a bump at the end of my driveway. I will continue to document if I'm inconvenienced by my City as the days and weeks go by. I know it might not be very exciting to you, but this is the most excitement my street has seen since the O'Brien Amber Alert last year.

Stay tuned...