"Is it safe?"
 Monday  August 18, 1997



Is it safe? No, it most definitely is not safe.

I had a wee bit of oral surgery done this morning. The crowns on two of my root canals have disintigrated due to my grinding my teeth in my sleep and need to be replaced, but in the process of pulverizing them I'd also done some damage to the foundation tooth structure, taking it right down to the gum line. This called for a procedure they call "root lengthening," which was described to me as peeling the gums back to expose more of the root of the tooth so they'll have something to bond the crowns to. Yeah, and the Spanish Inquisition was just a big misunderstanding. I felt like Dustin Hoffman in "Marathon Man."

The doc juiced me up to where it felt like I had dead fish for lips and then proceeded to work out all his frustrations on my mouth. I haven't been poked, prodded, manhandled and abused like that since the last time I got arrested and the boys in blue used me for batting practice. At one point I could have sworn he was doing a handstand on an instrument wedged between my teeth. He scraped on me, ground on me, chiseled and hammered on me. It was as though I were a block of marble and he a sculptor, which in effect was true since what they really do in root lengthening is not simply peel the gums back but grind your jawbone down and generally reshape the architecture of your head. Apparently the use of power tools is strictly prohibited so they have to do it all by hand using brute strength and leverage.

When the surgeon was finally finished -- or perhaps too tired to do any more -- his assistant gave me a tiny packet of pills and suggested that I put ice on my face when I got home since "I can see some swelling there already." I'm not even out of the chair yet and already I'm swelling. I asked her what drugs she'd given me. Advil. I guess they'd run out of sugar pills. Though I still had trout lips and no control of my tongue I could feel the dull throb of pain through what they'd already shot into me, so I knew Advil wasn't going to do the trick. I handed the pretend pills back to her and suggested she find me something stronger. Like maybe heroin or crack. I finally talked them into giving me some Vicodin by promising not to become an addict or run out and sell it on the street.

Since the surgeon was still getting his wind back and more victims were lined up in the waiting room they finally released me from the jaw bondo shop. "You be sure to call us if those pills don't handle the pain." I sure will, just give me your home phone number so I'm not the only one kept up all night.

A few hours later, after the fish-juice had worn off, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I felt almost no pain, certainly nothing a mere Advil couldn't handle. During the street construction the doc was doing on my head I was sure that I'd be seeing stars by afternoon. I guess the assistant was right with her toy pills, but then she's the one with all the training. All I had to do to qualify to be there was have bad teeth. So I'm feeling like Lucky Pierre: no pain and free drugs. Too bad I live a clean-and-sober life now. I guess I have no choice but to trot on down to the local schoolyard and sell them for cigarette money...

The visit with Narp was relaxing and low-key. We lounged by the pool and talked all afternoon, then had dinner at El Cholo in the evening along with Narp's soon-to-be ex-husband Doug, Beth, Zoe and Pat, a former co-worker of Narp and me and current co-worker of Beth's. I love El Cholo but it seems I only go there when Narp's in town. She leaves and some weird sort of brain cloud comes over me that makes me forget El Cholo and think that Mission Burrito is pretty good. MB might be good, but it ain't no EC. Try the green corn tamale next time you're there. You'll wonder why you waited.

10 p.m. and I'm turning this damned computer off just as soon as I upload this. I may even be in bed by midnight for a change.

The agenda for tomorrow: Writing, baby. Gotta churn out the pages.





Copyright 1997
Chuck Atkins