I’m a Frankenpatient, a dental disaster. And all because I didn’t read the fine print when I was signing over my life for a simple cut and paste procedure.
It all started when my upper bridge vomited a little ball of tissue about the size of a small marble. I didn’t really mind it. It just sat there stoically on my gum, didn’t get in the way of my toothbrush and pretty much kept to itself. I could eat, drink and be merry, and I could even have some recreational fun with it. With the tip of my tongue, I’d massage it from time to time. I’d play with it and pretend it was a bowling ball and I was bowling 360 or whatever.
Instead of twisting a strand of my hair or biting my lip–both nervous habits I’ve accumulated over the years–I would flick my tongue over my “gum ball” and I was soothed. I wouldn’t have to eat through a bag of Oreos or, worse, smoke through a pack of Marlboro Menthols. Then I could get on with my daily list of important activities, such as pleading with editors, arguing with my husband and picking up dog poop.
But now all that has been taken away from me with the surgeon’s scalpel.
Let me back up a moment. Content as I was with my “gum ball,” my dentist was most unhappy. Actually he hasn’t had a kind word to say about me and my pearly whites (which are beigeish) since I confessed I hated flossing and tried to avoid water piks as much as possible. The look he gave me after that revelation reminded me of ones my dear, departed dad threw me when I told him I didn’t think I wanted to have kids.
Dr. Dentist informed me that the “gum ball” had to go. Why? I protested. First he tried reasoning with me using the jargon-laden language of the American Dental Association–the only word I understood was “infection”– but when my eyes began to glaze over, he retreated and headed straight for the gut. “It’s a lesion,” he said with a half-smile. “And a lesion can be benign or cancerous.” Well, with the mention of the “C” word, it didn’t take long for me to imagine myself in a white gown undergoing 20 rounds of intensive chemotherapy while scripting a new will. “Okay,” I replied. “Let’s take it out.”
So that’s just what happened two days ago. After Dr. Dentist pierced my delicate membranes with a multitude of drug-laden needles, he chiseled off the “gum ball.” I didn’t feel a thing naturally. Until later. Poof–out the door I went repeating the mantra, “take the antibiotics, rinse with salt water, get stitches out in one week.”
“Aren’t you going to send the gum ball to the pathologist,” I asked before I exited.
“Nope,” Dr. Dentist replied. Suddenly–now that I’d paid the bill in full–the formerly possibly cancerous lesion was rendered inocuous.
This is how trust in professionals is lost.
And, believe it or not, I would have been satisfied that I had learned my lesson the hard way–that I was suckered for the almighty dollar– if I hadn’t awaken the next morning looking like Frankenstein. The entire left side of my face was puffed up like a pillow, and my eye, which previously had an unsightly bag lying beneath it now had two unsightly bags and one of them was rosy-colored.
My husband screamed louder than I did, and since mornings are not historically kind to my conversational skills, I asked him to contact Dr. Dentist, aka the Screwup. “If I call,” I said to my spouse,”I will run out of four-letter words in a jiffy and then what will I say?” My husband agreed to call if I stopped shrieking and clawing at the phone.
The upshot is, the Screwup said everything should turn out fine within the next two days. I would not be permanently scarred or disfigured for life. This from the same person who neglected to tell me that “traumatic reactions to surgery” like mine are “common.” So now he wants me to believe that within 48 hours my face will be restored to its previous cosmetic perfection.
I’ll believe it when I see it!