Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Roots of a smile



Root Canal.  Ugh.  Two terrible words.  Even apart they are not pretty, one is too round and the other jars with its sudden syllables but together they are enough to cause a grown man to cry (I think my major issue is that the long syllable followed by two short syllable construction of the words brings back memories of Greek poetry which is broken up into sections called ‘feet’ in which one long syllable followed by two short syllables are known as a ‘dactyl’ the Greek word for finger.  I hear ‘root canal’ but what I really hear is my Greek tutor standing at the front of the class getting us all to say ‘dum di di, dum di di, dum di di’ over and over again, like a class of demented Alice in Wonderland groupies).  This was the situation that faced me on Monday, no not Greek class, that feels like many years ago now, before children, no, the situation that I had been building myself up for all the previous week was having a root canal.  An hour long operation followed by a day’s worth of pain and misery, of course I dealt with it in my cheerful way, spending most of the weekend moaning and then spending the hours following the operation either asleep or grumbling about how it felt sore.  

I don’t think N really understood what was going to happen to me, despite me explaining it to her, she probably got a bit lost at ‘then they will extract the root from the gum’; in fact, that is also the bit at which I lost interest.  There is really no way to make those words into a positive, the silver lining may be that your tooth won’t hurt any more, but the giant cloud is that it is at the expense of the entire mechanism by which you feel pain.  This is a pretty drastic thing to have happen, like if a doctor took one look at a broken leg and said,

“Nope, we aren’t actually going to be able treat the problem, or work to make the leg better, it has gone so far that the only possible remedy in this situation is to remove your ability to feel pain at all.”  I suppose a lot like they did with Wolverine.

Most of my apprehension at having the operation came from the fact that I had had it done before, which tells you most of what you need to do about the state of my teeth if nothing else.  As with so many other things, it turns out tending to my teeth is not a capability I possess.  Though I am determined to do better from now on.  Anyway, I had already had it done once and those memories are pretty well seared into my brain.  In a little compartment which has written on the door, ‘Things I never want to experience again,’ which is right next to the compartment titled ‘things I never want to experience, ever’.  But it’s funny what you forget isn’t it?  I remember the chair and the room from the previous time.  I remember the dentist, and the sound of the drill.  I remember the smell of the stuff that is used to take an impression of your mouth and the prick of the needle that numbs you.  I didn’t remember the strange feeling as the root is being removed, nor the bizarre experience of having a soldering iron put into your mouth to harden the stuff that is put into the tooth itself.  Frankly, I quite enjoyed that last part as I got to pretend to be a dragon, which is something I haven’t done since I was very little on a cold autumn day. 

It may be the case that I end up forgetting all that again, and it will shock me just as much if I ever have to go back for another one, but one thing I won’t ever forget.  N really didn’t understand what was happening, what she did understand though is that daddy didn’t want it to happen.  And as I got out of the car on my way in to the dentist when I leant in to give her a kiss goodbye before my wife drove off she reached out and stroked my arm and said she hoped I would be alright.  I gave her a kiss and went off knowing that of course it would be alright.  And it was, I’m writing this with a whole new tooth, and no pain now when I bite into something hard, like a grape or a spoonful of yoghurt.

I hope I haven’t put N off the dentist, I hope she forgets about daddy being nervous about going, I hope she never gets to pretend to be a dragon in the dentist’s chair as they solder her mouth back together again.  But most of all I hope she always remembers that sometimes all it takes to cheer someone up, and to banish those nerves is a stroke of the arm and a quiet, ‘I hope you’ll be alright daddy’. 

1 comment:

  1. That nearly made me cry - it's so lovely. Perhaps we adults should say things like this more often.

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