Pulling teeth

The dentist’s office called me at work late this morning, asking if I'd please switch my appointment from next Wednesday to today, to cover a cancellation. Darla said OK, so two teeth came out, one on each side.

They were just jagged stumps anyway, useless for years, painful when chewing, and they stank of death. I'll be better off without them, and hooray for surprise double extractions! They called at 11:30 and I was in the chair at 1:00, so I skipped a week of miserable worry and fear, compressing it into a quick bus ride.

My chair kept sinking, though. You know those hydraulic chairs you sit in for dental drilling? I’m heavier than it could handle. It's unsettling to suddenly drop an inch, just as the dentist is about to pierce your jaw with a big needle, so he fiddled with the chair's controls, but when it dropped an inch again, he gave up. They moved me into a different chair in a different room, and that dentist and a much skinnier patient moved into the chair that couldn’t hold my 300+ pounds.

They shot my face full of Novocain, of course, and during the yanks I only had to open my eyes a little wider, and they’d give me another shot of the painkiller. Good system. Something like that should be available every day, only without the dentist.

Then the tooth-pulling commenced. We’re knocking on the door of the 21st century, so maybe there’s some high-tech tool for tooth extractions, but if there is my dentist doesn’t have it. He pulled both teeth with his bare hands, basically.

He started with a glorified wrench, clamped it on a tooth, and pulled and grunted. Shattered and stained bits emerged, and then he used a screwdriver-ish chisel thing to gouge what was left out of my gums.

Eyes open wide, more Novocain delivered, thank you.

Doc stood there, hunched over, and pulled and pulled, his veins pulsing, while his pretty assistant cradled my chin in her palm, pushing my jaw in the opposite direction, toward the dentist. It’s difficult describing it, but it seemed ... precarious. He was putting so much torque into the effort, if his grip had slipped he would've punched me full in the face, maybe sliced a hole in my cheek with his tool. His arm was quivering with the work, and he was so close to me I could count the whiskers on his 1:00-shadowed face.

He didn’t slip, though, neither did his chin assistant, and I held firm between them. It's dentistry not much different from the 1830s, just with better drugs, but so long as I’m doped up and not in agony, what’s to complain. No lollipop was offered, though.

They gave me a prescription for something wonderful, because Doc Dentist says it might hurt tomorrow.

♦ ♦ ♦

I always buy a Chronicle on my walk to work, and usually buy an Examiner on the way home, yet I’ve never read any coverage about labor troubles at the newspapers in the newspapers — only in the weekly Bay Guardian. Anyone who doesn’t read the Bay Guardian must’ve been baffled to find no newspapers this morning. 

The strike is on, and when it’s eventually settled please remember that the Chronicle and Examiner didn’t think it was newsworthy. Seems curious, yes? There was a recent labor dispute at BART — a strike was threatened but averted — and the newspapers reported every step of it. Here's what the union says, and here's what management says. For weeks.

The papers couldn't report on their own labor dispute, though, because reporting both sides fairly would've made management look like greedy assholes. Thus, the threat of a news strike never made the news, and now — surprise, there's no paper on your porch.

Newspapers report the news, but they also decide what’s news, and the millionaires running both papers decided that you didn’t need to know a strike was coming. Ever wonder what other news the newspapers have decided you don’t need to know?

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Doc Dentist was right. My mouth hurts. Pill time, then bedtime.

From Pathetic Life #6
Wednesday, November 2, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. This is reminding me of a couple of months ago, when I lost a toenail. I'm not sure why. About a year ago, I dropped an incredibly heavy cutting board on my big toe. It's literally a slab of tree, about 16" across and an inch thick, weighs maybe 5 pounds. I thought I must've broken my toe.

    But that was a year ago. No issues since with that toe. But about 4 months ago, I noticed that that nail wasn't growing. Weird. It just never needed to be trimmed.

    Then about 2 months ago, I was just sitting and daydreaming while cutting my nails, and decided to play with the nail. It was squishy underneath. Kinda took me by surprise. It had mostly detached, and had some stanky goo underneath. No pain.

    I fiddled with it and played around, and then suddenly, it just... flipped up. The nail was still attached at the base, but only by skin. It was pointed up, unattached to the "meat" of the toe. Again, I want to stress that there was no pain.

    I worked at it, and eventually it detached completely. It was just weird. I'd never had a whole fricking toenail in my hand.

    It didn't taste like much of anything.

    1. I was ready to reply "been there, done that," but your last line wins a trophy. Today, sir, you are more disgusting than me. One of my big toenails has come off, twice, but it never occurred to me to take a taste.

      Like you, I was surprised at the lack of pain. You have twenty nails all your life, and yanking them out is a cliché of modern torture, but then you lose one, and losing it doesn't hurt, and there isn't even any extra pain from walking around on toes without nails.

      Has your flipped-off toenail grown back? Mine did, but slowly, and discolored.

      All my toenails grow slower than they did until my 50s or so, and most are uglier. They're yellowish instead of beige, and in weird shapes not aligned with the shape of the toes.

    2. The last line was a half-joke. I did bite it to see what it was like, but I didn't, like, roll it around in my mouth like a fine wine.

  2. >Has your flipped-off toenail grown back? Mine did, but slowly, and discolored.

    I THINK it is, but as you say, it's slow, and discolored.

    1. Also, the nails on my big and #2 toes have gotten much thicker. It's work trying to clip 'em.


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