Thursday, May 30, 2013

digging the canal

So, here's the drill.  And this time there is one.  A drill, that is.

On Wednesday morning I Escaped off to dental trip number three in Manzanillo.  This time to consult with a root canal specialist.  A very pleasant young lady who is undoubtedly younger than a majority of my dental work.

She took all of the medical steps I would have expected.  Another x-ray followed by an incredibly detailed description of why I need a root canal.  I assured her that was the reason I was there.  No persuasion was required.

But I soon found out why she wanted me to know just how involved the procedure was going to be.  Performing a root canal on a tooth with a prior root canal is difficult for a very practical reason.  When the original root is scoured out, the empty canal in the tooth is plugged up with a mixture that effectively bonds with the tooth.  Something similar to what the mob must have done to Jimmy Hoffa.

She also apologized that she would most likely need to destroy the $3500 crown on the tooth to get to the root.  She tried pulling it off with repeated whacks of a little hammer.  I felt like the centerpiece in Verdi's Anvil Chorus.  But she had to bow to the expertise of Dr. Marc Panet-Raymond, who cemented it in place over a decade ago.

So, there was naught to be done other than take the Queen of Hearts route.  And off with its head she went.

And then another unpleasant surprise.  Apparently, a metal post had been installed following the last root canal to give the crown some bottom.  The post, too, would have to go.

That meant more drilling and picking, and picking and drilling, and drilling and picking.  After two hours in the chair (of perfectly pain-free work, I should note), I had wandered to that little place in the back of my brain where I go when I am bored -- when sitting in a dental chair for two hours or after listening to any recent American president for about two minutes.

In what seemed to be a mix of frustration, resignation, and professional doggedness, the root canal specialist called me our of my mental closet, and ran up the white flag for the day.  Telling me I would need to return in a week -- and maybe the week after that before she could complete the full procedure.

I was a bit disappointed.  Once I am injected with anesthetic, I like to stay in the chair for the duration.  But that was not an option yesterday.

The general practice dentist then whipped up a quick temporary crown to tide me over until all is done.  At that point, we will talk about getting a new crown.  But, for now, my mouth feels as if I just traded an enamel cermamic piece of art for a modified Coke cap.

Yesterday,  Dan reminded us of three classic pieces of entertainment involving dentistry.  Harvey Korman and Tim Conway on The Carol Burnett Show.  Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman in The Marathon Man.  Steve Martin and Bill Murray in Little Shop of Horrors.  I have always liked each of them.

But I am starting to feel more like Ru'afo, the badly-aging Son'a leader played by F. Murray Abraham in Star Trek: Insurrection.  The Son'a hung on to life relying on hideous cosmetic surgery.  In one scene, a "mechanic" is shown plugging new teeth into Ru'afo's jaw.  In the end, he looks as pathetic as any victim of cosmetic surgery.

All of that is to say , this little bout of dentistry Russian roulette is merely a reminder that we are all mortal.  Well, I certainly know I am.  That my parts are wearing out as fast as those in the dearly-departed Shiftless Escape.

But I suspect there are still some good miles left in the transmission -- even if the grill gets a bit shoddy.

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