I did a second drawing of Beauty and the Beast (see first) but this one is in charcoal on rough watercolor paper. I think I may give this one to the endodontist I went to Monday for him to post on the ceiling over the chair where he performs root canals with no laughing gas. That way, the patients will have something on which to focus. And here is where the faint at heart should turn away and read Little Women instead.
Now, I know that some of you may think that Bill and I have a propensity for exaggerating, or I for complaining. But the following is the true unadulterated story of a Marathon Man-like nightmare I experienced on Monday morning getting a root canal.
I was told that I needed a root canal by my dentist and that it was too complicated for him to do. Time to see an endodontist, but who? My dentist did not know who one who was a Blue Shield provider and I would have to find one on my own. Basically, I picked one at random from Blue Shield’s list and it turned out he was a UCLA professor aside from having had a practice for 25 years and I thought – well he must know his stuff. Now, I am not a good dental patient in the first place, but pile on the unknown of a random doctor with a “complicated” root canal, and I look like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man going through the door.
After being coaxed into the chair, the doctor asks for the syringe. Whoa, hold on there dude. “Where is the nitrous oxide?” I ask. He explains in his thick accent, the origin of which I can’t quite discern, that he no longer uses it because he finds that people come there just for the nitrous oxide. OH I’M JUST SURE. I want a root canal for the little buzz that a few whiffs of laughing gas will give. He tries to convince me further of it’s lack of merit by telling me that it does not get rid of pain–that it only relaxes you. I really had to resist a California, “DUH”.
He begins with injection number one, after which, he explains he will leave the room for a few minutes while it takes affect. Upon his return we discern that indeed, the tooth is not yet asleep. Shot number two. Nope. Shot number three and five minutes later, convinced he has deadened the tooth (or that I am imagining pain), he places the rubber sheet with the hole for the victim tooth and as he pushes it down around the tooth, he pokes his instrument into my gum. I just about displace the air above us. Hmmm. Not dead yet. Shot number four. Again with the rubber thing, again I jump. By now, I’m shaking badly and not feeling at all good about this. He gives plenty of time for shot number five to sink in. He has told me that he cannot give me anymore lidocaine than this for safety reasons. After 10 minutes, we think the tooth is dead, the placement of the rubber thing is successful and it is really time to commence with the drilling.
I grip the arm rests (funny they are called that), and I am ready to barrel through. He starts drilling. Within about 15 seconds, I get shooting pain and I shriek. Now he has compromised the tooth and must keep going. I notice that he is sweating as he takes a syringe and injects lidocaine directly onto the tooth. The initial squirt hurts the enflamed nerve and makes me jump again.
It deadens the very surface and he drills until I shriek again. My feet come off the table, and I am in flight position trying to sit up now, but he sternly tells me not to panic and to lay back. Feet back down; head back; more lidocaine on the surface of the tooth; drilling and pain. I burst into tears, but he can’t stop in the middle and leave a gaping hole in my tooth. More lidocaine and pain, and this goes on until it is done and I am ready to drop from exhaustion. In fact, I stand up and almost pass out. I have to sit for several minutes with my head between my legs.
Apparently, what I had was ‘hot tooth’–one that could not be anesthetized. They asked me if I had taken any medication before coming since that can sometimes negate the anesthetic. Of course, I wanted to say, “Why, for the love of GOD, don’t you ask people that BEFORE they come for a root canal?” But I could only grunt “uh-uh,” since they asked me while my mouth was jacked open. Indeed I had not taken anything.
I am an anomaly. This does not happen often at all, and the doctor explained to me that he tells his students about a similar problem he had had with another patient. I imagine, I was added to the doctor’s repertoire of freak stories. I know I’m not looking forward to the next root canal in my life. In fact, I think I’ll convert to baby food.