Small Doses

Ok, I’ve been at a leadership conference all day; you would think that I would write something deep and meaningful, but I think I need a few days to digest the material. So, today I feel like I should instead warn the world that dentists have created an evil plot for seducing people into getting their wisdom teeth removed.

Before I do that though, I can’t help it. I just have to write that I’m such a happy girl. I really love that one of the first things Todd said to me today when he called was “happy 13 month anniversary.” It’s a blessing to be in a relationship where each month is considered a gift.

Alright, there’s really no segue I can think of from that news into my dire warning for the world; just take a deep breath and read on.

I am convinced that my dentist must have taken a course in school called Small Doses. The course description probably read something like: This course will teach you the rhetorical skills necessary to convince patients to have their wisdom teeth removed. Topics covered in the course will include fear-based prophecy and delayed information release. A clear timeline for the dissemination of information from dentist to patient will be established as a result of the course.

Dentists take this course and then proceed to give their wisdom teeth patients information in small carefully controlled doses.

In the first dose, the dentist shows a patient her x-ray accompanied by raised eyebrows or slow academic sounding, “Uh-huhs.” These x-rays are terrifying to mere mortals, like me, who are still bedazzled by the fact that a picture  can be taken of the inside of  the human body (even though humans apparently started doing this in 1895). My x-ray made it look like my wisdom teeth were preparing for a full-scale war on my other teeth, lurking just inside my jaw and getting ready to start shoving all the other teeth, creating havoc and destruction. And, of course, there was that extra wisdom tooth waiting to unfold it’s diabolical plan.

To be fair to my dentist, he didn’t use the words havoc and destruction. He just told me things about tooth decay and possible abscesses. Still, he DID show me that bedazzling, terrifying x-ray as part of dose one.

The second dose of the process is all the possible side effects that the dentist rattles off. I smile and nod, smile and nod. I mean, I’ve seen prime time commercials; everything has a side effect, right? I’ve been desensitized to them, and the dentist is counting on this for the success of his second step in the evil plot.

The third dose is the dentist telling me that for 2-3 days, I will need to restrict my activity. I take this estimate and multiply it by 3 because I know that on a scale of 1-10, I have a pain tolerance of -12. Still, the dentist wins this round because he also promises narcotics that will help me through the rough spots.

The fourth dose is the actual surgery. The dentist, of course, has a pliable willing participant for this dose because he gives the patient a valium prior to the surgery and then administers enough drugs to make the patient blissfully unaware of what could surely rank near the top of the list for the 90 most gruesome minutes that he will have to endure in life were he awake for the experience. Really, this dose of the process is not that bad. My mouth was so numbed that more than 2 hours after my surgery I couldn’t even swallow an asprin because I couldn’t distinguish between my tongue and lower lip.

The fifth dose is the follow-up visit, and this is the dose to which I object. This is the one that the dentist doesn’t warn the patient about. He lets the innocent patient waltz into the follow-up visit thinking that she will be given the all clear. Dry socket has been staved off. The stitches have dissolved one by one in the patient’s mouth, dislodging at the most inconvenient times possible. Slushies have been slurped through straws in daring attempts to undo all the good dental healing that has begun. The patient has emerged victor of the process UNTIL the hygienist pull out a syringe, fills it with disgusting lukewarm salt water, and proceeds to flush out all the holes in the patient’s mouth that could still be harboring “food debris.” This is terrible news; this is not an all clear.

The dentist sweeps into his room with his little magnifying flashlight strapped to his head to deliver the last stage of the evil plot — the one not included in the follow-up literature, the one completely hidden from the patient until now. The patient will need to go home and continue this syringe flushing process for 4-5 more weeks. The patient should also not eat anything crunchy like pretzels (a staple of life!!), peanuts, or popcorn.

At this point, I cry, “FOUL!” Why was I not informed of this step? I want my wisdom teeth back. Let’s be real for a moment here. I’m the girl who doesn’t even like to floss on a regular schedule. Now I have to do a syringe rinse for 4-5 weeks. That’s at least 28 days, almost a whole month. I’ve fallen an unsuspecting victim to the plot of small doses. And, to top it all off, I have a perverse, almost overwhelming desire to chow down on some popcorn.