02 December, 2003

Dental Work

On my drive to the office, the clouds are puffy and bright. In the center of my sightline is a massive formation, heavy, grey, riddled with holes through which the sun bleeds through in brilliant beams. It's the sort of sky Renaissance painters would use to indicate the presence of God. I go the wrong way by accident, likely divine, engineered so that I could view from just the right angle for just the right number of moments.

The oral surgeon is a sweetheart. He shoots first and talks long enough for me to get good and numb. Some of the members of the dental practice leave me alone so long that the Novacaine starts to wear off; evidently I process it quickly. He gets directly to work, talking me through the whole process, warning me of pressure. I can hear the tooth begin to splinter and fragment. His assistant holds a spanner, a tool designed to yank my lip out of the way of his work. On my other side, a rubber bite grip separates my teeth. Now the drill comes out. I imagine the sky. I try to distract myself with pranic breathing: six counts in, six counts out. The drill bleats inside my head, a screaming chainsaw of an instrument, singing the most miserable tune I know, changing pitch when blade meets bone again and again. Dr. Garden's fingers bore into my jawline, holding me tightly as he begins the pull. In my mind, I see round green and yellow bruises lined up like birds on a wire. I reach for the sky with my mind.

When they pause, asking if I hurt, feel pain, I spit the bite grip into my hand and mumble an explaination about my noise sensitivity. "Don't do vacuums. Don't do hairdryers." Dr. Garden chuckles, "You're in the wrong place, then." He is unhurried, but speedy. His touch is gentle but strong and secure. Kim, the assistant, is sympathetic, efficient and just dead on right there. "Terrible pressure, terrible noise," warns the doctor. A crack like breaking branch of sycamore resounds in my head and I feel a particle of something land in my lap. I am certain it is a shard of bloody tooth. This process repeats for the second half of the tooth...and then it's time to get the roots out. I retreat to the sky. In, two three four five six; out, two three four five six. I think of the sky, the sunset I shared Sunday with Adam as I drove him back to his apartment. I conjure in my mind gold and pink and purple, with glimmer shining through, golden rays of God.

Evenutually, it is over, and I leave the office with scrips for pain meds and antibiotics. By the time I reach my car, checking my twisted face in the rear view mirror, my jaw has already begun to ache.

Dr. Garden and Kim said I did well. I wonder what that means, doing well. I don't think I'm doing well right now.

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