The root canal was a generic experience in a generic office with a generic dentist. He acupunctured my gums, while I laid there gap mouthed and wide eyed like a blow up doll. Later I would hear fantastical tales of similar surgeries with sexy black lights and access to techno music and virtual beach scenes. Futuristic sounding root canal events, the hygienist wearing white thigh high leather platform boots, the doctor with a superfluous ascot, where afterward patients bragged: "I didn't even have to open my mouth. Fucking lasers. They're amazing. I swore I was at a Yanni concert."
What remained of No. 30 was filled in with a tooth-like material. The intent was good, but the application was a foreign boulder-like mound that I didn't trust to pummel meat, or to not go flying like a $900 ceramic spit wad from my mouth when I sneezed.
About two years later, I lost the prosthetic tooth bit when I pitted it against a bag of sourdough pretzels.
Introducing a new dentist to the mess in my mouth was a lesson in humility. She was pretty. You could eat off her shiny clean, clean face. I think she was wearing pink. This was not the sort of person I'd ordinarily invite to plunge mask-first into my horribly marred and infected face hole. Not without hip waders. It was like inviting a freshly sanitized gentleman caller into my bathroom, belching, and apologizing for not flushing after that righteous deuce.
She was a true artist with the tooth reinforcement project, and for a few years I celebrated that smooth porcelain molar as if it was one of my own. I used it for eating and everything. Then it, too, broke.
I can live like that, with a broken tooth, for longer than you would imagine. We eat a lot of grits around here.
And then there was pain. A throbbing jaw pain that goes from the center of my face, all the way to my brain. Like someone beat up half of me, while the other half watched. I've self medicated with long brushing sessions, attacking the spot with ferocious Listerine tornadoes. Ibuprofin has worked. And more ibuprofin has worked more.
Today at the dentist, they told me that the area near the root is infected. That another dentist sort in another building is going to have to dig in there and abort the bacteria. This is good. I was imagining that this would end with face reconstruction surgery where I turned out looking like half John Travolta, half Nic Cage.
The point of all of this is that now I am knee deep in generic pain pills and I have spent two hour increments of my day on virtual beaches, with techno music and thigh high platform boots. I hate to be that cliche: Just another girl with a broken No. 30, sacked out on the couch with a sleepy smile and "Cheers" reruns on the Hallmark channel. But that Sam Malone ...