Those of you who also know me on Facebook might remember me posting some while ago that I was facing about a month's wages worth of dental work. Said sad news came as a shock to me, since I have always been able to make the honest claim that "I've never had a cavity."
No longer true, but in fact, the bulk of the work (and the uninsured costs) came from "pocketing" in the gums around my upper rear molars, especially. The gums were getting so loose that my bloody teeth not only hurt, they were starting to get a little loose. (Some of you may also remember that loose teeth are among the horrors of my subconscious life.)
So. A two cleaning sessions and two laser sessions to get at pretty extensive calculus "growing" beneath my gums, my new dentist is optimistic that she's fixed the problem. And so am I.
And so it was that, this morning, I prepared myself to head once again to her office, this time for my very first filling. le sigh ...
* * *
If you live in East-Central North America, you'll know it's been god-awful and eerily hot so far this September. July-hot, and never-mind the autumnal shadows of the lowering sun. Sweat-like-a-pig weather, especially if — like me — you have a 12+ kilometre cycle to work, and you play soccer under the blazing sun on Sundays.
But the weather-casters have been promising an end to the torrid temperatures and this morning start nice and cloudy, presaging a beginning of the end. Or so I thought until I opened our front door and stepped ... into a blast of blinding sunshine that contained the promise of yet another sweltering day.
I didn't quite shake my fist at the sky, but I did look up and curse. "Fuck off, Mr. Sun!" said I, adding, "Nobody likes you!" I then turned, locked our front door, hefted my twin back-packs, loaded with laptop and lunch, a change of clothes, some reading matter and my notebook computer (among other things; no, I don't commute light) and made my way to our garage, whence I'd left my wheels in the "bike cage."
I swear to god, I was under roof no more than 120 second, but when I wheeled my bicycle out to the street, Mr. Sun was nowhere to be seen. From the grey skies fell not light, but rain. So if any of you Ottawa folks got caught by it at around 10:15 Wednesday morning, it was my fault.
All of which is preamble to the weirdness that "began" my rather long day.
Despite the rain, which was continuous but light, I arrived at my dentist's (near Billings Bridge, maybe a three or four km ride) just a little damp, not dripping as would have been the case on Tuesday, when it was dry but o! so fucking hot. And I soon found myself on my back, looking up at a ceiling whose dials were painted to look like clouds scudding fast against a blue sky, while my dentist and her hygienist applied gauze and a topical anaesthetic in preparation for the scrapping to come.
Now it so happens that people notice that I ride a bicycle, what with the helmet and casual clothing. And they tend to be impressed when I tell them that I work at the airport. To the uninitiated, it seems a long way. It also happens that there is a labour dispute at the airport. The airport taxi drivers have been locked-out for more than a month now, with no end in sight. And, as I was about to learn from my hygienist, there was some kind of violence on Tuesday. (I'd been working, but the excitement happened sometime while I was on the road between Ottawa and Dorval.)
And somehow, as I lay there, half my mouth nearly immobile, we got into it. The hygienist (let's call her Maggie, just for fun) let me know that the drivers' position was hopeless and so they should give in. And also that she didn't get a raise every year, so why should the taxi drivers? (No, that didn't make any sense. The taxi drivers were refusing to pass on a 400% increase in "dispatch fees" to their customers, arguing that it was both a greedy cash-grab on the part of their employer and the airport, and a self-destructive move on the part of their employer when Uber is making all kinds of inroads on the business But I digress.)
I tried to argue the drivers' case, but she was having none of it and, in any case, we were straying more and more into (what I see as) a modern defeatist tendency to just shrug and say, "that's the way things are now" and recommend capitulation. Which drives me a little crazy.
In any case, we were both getting increasing heated when I suddenly had had enough. "Look," I said, "I really don't want to talk about this now. I haven't had my coffee, or breakfast, and I can't feel the right side of my face. You think I'm wrong, I think you're wrong and I'm not in the mood to keep arguing about it."
But she wasn't about to concede the point. "I'm not arguing," she said. "Everybody has a right to their opinion."
"Of course you're arguing," I countered. "You're telling me the cabbies should give up their struggle, that's your position!"
And with that, or maybe after another back-and-forth or two, she insisted she'd taken no position and how dare I tell her what she thought, then tore off her right glove and hurled it to the floor before storming out of the room.
I stared, agog and bemused (and also, I admit, angry), at the door through which she'd stormed.
Moments later, oblivious, my dentist returned and asked how my mouth was feeling.
"I guess okay," I said (mumbled; remember, I could really only feel half of my face) and added, "but I'm afraid your hygienist and I kind of had a fight."
"What? A fight?"
"Er, yes. About politics." I laughed a little. "I'm afraid she's really angry at me."
"How did this happen? I was only gone for two minutes!"
How indeed? I haven't often been involved with something that escalated that quickly.
I very nearly cancelled the appointment. "She's really angry with me," I said again, "I'm not sure I want her poking things in my mouth." But after a little one-on-one, I was convinced that she was (a) a professional and (b) only going to be doing suction and (c) my mouth was already frozen. "All right," I said, "we might as well get on with it."
The procedure itself was painless, and quick. I didn't enjoy hearing the drill as she cleaned out the decay, but it didn't hurt and didn't take long. Fifteen minutes later I was on my bike and heading south. Indeed, the only physical problem I had was when I tried to eat some breakfast (a sandwhich from Tim Horton's god help me) but had to stop when I realized I was, quite possibly, starting to eat part of my lip along with the sandwich.
But I'm afraid no real apologies were exchanged before I left the clinic, no hands shaken or smiles traded. I've got a cleaning schedule three months down the line, but I'm not going to go unless I've been assured that someone else will be prodding my gums and scrapping my teeth.