A Tooth for a Tooth
By Lynn Rebuck –
Last week I had a wisdom tooth extracted. I am aware that there are many of you out there who have had four wisdom teeth removed at once, or two taken out together, and so you may scoff at my surrender of only a solitary tooth. Let me explain the wisdom of this choice.
The oral surgeon wanted to take out both of my lower wisdom teeth. In dental circles they are known as teeth numbers 17 and 32. As I sat in the chair awaiting the procedure, he entered the room and in a rather cavalier way announced he wanted “number 17 and number 32.” Apparently he thought that he was playing the lottery. He had confused my mouth with the “Pick 6.”
I declined the dual extraction, and my final offer was for him to remove tooth number 17, which had recently broken. Up until that time 17 was my lucky number. Not anymore. Tooth number 17 stubbornly refused to come out. You know a medical procedure is not going well when they call in additional personnel to help (I was wondering how four people would all fit their hands in my mouth). I think he started calling in people from the waiting room. “You, put the magazine down and get in here.”
At one point I heard him say (since I was fully awake and partially numb for the procedure), “Come in here. Take this arm off,” which scared me since I thought he was referring to my arm. I know dental work can cost an arm and a leg, but I thought they’d at least wait until the procedure was over. Luckily he was referring to the arm of the chair. I think he put his foot up on it for leverage when he pulled.
What should have been a quick procedure turned into an extended tugfest. Worse yet, with a mouth full of hands and dental tools, I couldn’t express my opinion about what was going on. And believe me, it was a strong opinion.
When he finally got the tooth out, I was relieved. That was until he said he wasn’t sure if he got all of it. An x-ray showed that he did. After he was done, he announced his decision to not remove tooth number 32. You know it was bad if a guy who removes teeth for a living doesn’t want to remove any more of yours.
After it was over, I was angry and I felt like he owed me something. It was a barbaric procedure, second only to bikini waxing. As I wrote out the check, I eyed the promotional pen I was holding. “I’m taking this pen,” I silently decided. “He took my tooth. In fact, I want the whole container of pens,” I silently reasoned. “I want every pen from the supply closet. I want a fair exchange for what he took from me.” Suddenly the “tooth for a tooth” scripture made a whole lot more sense to me. According to Mosaic law, I think the oral surgeon owes me a tooth. Number 17, to be exact.
Almost a week after the procedure I am left with a giant hole in my mouth where the tooth used to be. It feels like it goes all the way down to my shoulder. The hole is so deep that when I talk there’s an echo. I’m thinking of turning it into a tourist attraction. Who knows, maybe it’ll be one of the seven dental wonders of the world along with the Panama Root Canal, the Hoover Dental Dam and the Golden Gate Dental Bridge.
© 2011 Lynn Rebuck