fixed thirteen years later
Tuesday, May 21 2013
Left to my own devices, I never go to the dentist. But throughout my life I have often lived with women who have, for one reason or another, found it necessary to schedule dental appointments for me. One of those appointments happened today. I'd had a business relationship with our old dentist (starting in 2006 or 2007), but it had always been speculative work that never panned out, and this fact had put so much torque on our relationship that we changed dentists. Gretchen was the first to switch, choosing a Woodstock-based dentist whom we know in our social circles and who is famous for his advertisements on WDST (ads where he promises to give his patients laughing gas). Gretchen's experience with our new dentist hasn't been a completely wonderful thing; a new crown installed proved problematic and required something like a dozen visits to fix. But that might have just been bad luck.
I drove out to my dental appointment at around noon. The office was on Route 375 just beyond Hurley Ridge Market. Having punny name referring to both dentistry and eastern meditative practices, the office is full of Buddhas, artificial waterfalls, and a constant soundtrack of rock and roll from the late 1970s and earlier. (One of our new dentist's claims to fame is that he played keyboards for a band that had a song that reached #6 on the Billboard charts in 1967.)
My dental hygienist was a no-nonsense woman (as they often are) who hacked away at the accumulated calculus at the roots of my teeth (an especially unpleasant procedure with the incisors). By the standards of dental hygienists I have known, she was probably somewhere within the least comfortable quarter, though that just might be because she was more effective than most of the others. As is typical of appointments with new dentists, she gave my mouth a thorough x-raying, but she also did this thing where she tapped at my gums to measure their puffiness and recorded numbers next to each tooth on a computerized chart. It was this test that had led her to lecture Gretchen about the need to floss, but I got no such lecture, perhaps because of my habit of picking my teeth with a dental tool that I keep near my main computer.
The hygienist didn't like the looks of the gum around the incisor nearest my left top canine tooth. This is the so-called "punk rock tooth" that was originally broken off by a beer-bottle wielding friend in a freak mosh pit accident down in Blacksburg, Virginia in the autumn of 1994. That tooth initially got a cheap filling-based repair, slowly died, and was abscessing by the summer of 1998. But I didn't bother getting a root canal on it until Kim set up a dental appointment with an Iranian "ghetto dentist" in June of 2000. I finally got a proper crown for it in the summer of 2003, but even that was problematic. The crown developed voids under it that trapped foul-smelling bacteria. At one point it actually fell off and I reattached it with SuperGlue. For the past few years it's been better after having my last dentist (the one of the ill-fated business ideas) glue it back in with some special adhesive developed in Japan. But gradually the void beneath it has reappeared, trapping food and bacteria. I have to massage the gum above it several times each day to keep their numbers in check (something I determine, truth be known, by the fragrance of the fingertip that did the massaging).
Eventually the dentist, that former rockstar dude, came in to look at my teeth. He said the only fix for my punk rock tooth and the gum nearby was to install a new crown. The old one simply hadn't been a good fit. You depends on a dentist to do things in your mouth, and if what they did seems to work, you go on with your life even if what they did was technically incompetent. Replacing that crown with another one is going to expensive, but it's not like I can make the dentist I had three dentists ago pay for it. It would be more appropriate to send a bill to that beer-bottle wielding friend back in Blacksburg. The expense for just that one tooth at this point is probably approaching five thousand dollars. Take care of your teeth, kids!
While my new dentist was looking around in my mouth, he looked at the results of a bite test (the hygienist had made me bite down on one of those strips of bluish paper). He immediately saw that my bite was off because the fillings on the right side were all too high. They'd been installed that way by the ghetto dentist in West Los Angeles thirteen years ago, and four dentists later the error had finally been discovered! It had always felt a little off back there since getting that work done, and for several years now I've had shooting pains when chewing tough foods on that side. With a few seconds of grinding, though, the problem was finally rectified (though the dentist said the shooting pains may take awhile to dissipate).
The weather was hot and summery today, with sticky humidity and highs around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It might not have been the best day to do a job requiring digging, but I've been worried about Ramona accosting cyclists at the end of the Farm Road. To break that bad habit would require a deployment of the invisible fence shock collar system, though I would have to extend the wire that triggers the shock up to and across the farm road. Since farm road isn't under my administrative control, it seemed best to completely hide the wire in a shallow trench, especially as it crossed the farm road in two places. Using a mattock, I managed to chip an inch-deep trench crossing the road twice, and once I was done hiding the wire nobody who didn't know it was there would be able to see any evidence of my work.
I needed to attach this new wire to the existing invisible fence wire in series, but finding that wire near its northwestern-most end proved surprisingly difficult. In the end I had to use the shock collar itself as a sort of minesweeper (it sounds an alarm in addition to the shock, so I didn't have to torture myself).
Once everything was operational, I put the collar on Ramona, who had been following me around and paying close attention as I'd done all this work. At the time she was near the part of the farm road that would trigger the shock, and she immediately stumbled into it. Not knowing what to do, she ran across both places where the wire crossed the farm road, being shocked multiple times. She started to whimper pathetically, but then stumbled beyond the fence's reach. I felt terrible, but perhaps this one incident will be enough to keep her from bothering cyclists.
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