no more pain, only friends

Saw one of my favorite people, for what had been one of my least favorite appointments,… seeing the dentist. Dr. Quickstad and his staff have allayed whatever fears my teeth and I had about hands poking around inside my mouth. To say they are considerate is an understatement. Never have I been queried more about my well-being during a dental visit. But they are so efficient and capable, that they needn’t worry. 

My first experience having my teeth looked at was the summer before entering 6th grade. Our family was too poor to afford such luxuries as repairing what we already had. We could only take care of our daily needs; the future would have to wait until we hit the lottery (nonexistent in those days). I’m not certain whether it was a nagging toothache or the desire to look better when I smiled. I had skipped 5th grade, going from 4th into 6th. I wanted to “measure up” to older students who would be my peers. But knowing myself as I do, my mom probably dragged me, “kicking and screaming” to the dentist because of the hammering ache from a tooth.

As it turned out I didn’t know pain until I sat in the chair of a middle-aged, Chinese dentist wearing wire-rimmed eyeglasses. The framed certificate hanging on the wall across from where I sat, probably indicated where he’d trained. All I remember is hearing someone say that he’d been an army dentist. He went on to demonstrate on me, how he’d worked on strong, military guys. I should’ve enlisted after the treatment I received.

The dentist was kindly, but formal and stiff. From his demeanor I understood that he didn’t stand for nonsense. Not that I would cause any; I didn’t want him to get carried away with his drill or needles.  I don’t remember there being an assistant, but there might have been. I can only remember watching the dentist’s every move, with eyes like a hawk’s.

Over the course of many months, the dentist worked a miracle. Badly decayed teeth were removed or filled with silver. The improvement gave me the self-confidence to open my mouth without hesitation, smiling, laughing, grinning, speaking. But I must admit the path to my new look was sheer agony.

Novocaine was administered with a needle that looked like it was meant for a horse. And there was no numbing the area beforehand. As the dentist stuck the huge needle into my gums, administering the sedative, I pressed my head as far back into the headrest as it would go; it would’ve gone further if it could have. I was only anesthetized for extractions, fillings were done “cold turkey.” The drilling felt like a jack hammer inside my head. When it hit a nerve, it took all my self-control not to want to kick somebody, anybody. But as a Catholic school student, I was expected to suffer in silence, and I did. 

I came to like and admire the middle-aged, Chinese dentist, wearing wire-rimmed glasses. He discounted my fee because of our financial situation. My mom always paid what she could each time, $5 in cash. I felt proud when I handed over the money; for a moment I didn’t feel so poor.

My first dental experience ended happily, but it didn’t negate my fear of dentists. So throughout the years, I’ve not attended to my teeth as I should have. Somehow that chore always fell to the bottom of my list of things to do. But I did make certain that my daughter’s teeth were always looked after. I didn’t want her suffering, physically, mentally and emotionally, as I had. Her teeth are gorgeous, thanks to braces.

At 61 I’ve found Dr. Quickstad who, with his staff, has made dental appointments more like…visits with friends. They’re ensuring that through the remaining decades of my life, I continue to bite, chew, swallow, and smile, grin and laugh with all my pretty teeth showing.

no more pain, only friends…hugmamma.

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the eyes have it

While preparing dinner tonight, my daughter and I were sharing little jokes, making each other laugh. Without thinking I said “I wish I knew what I looked like to someone who sees me coming toward them.” “What?” my daughter asked. So I repeated myself “I wish I knew what I looked like to someone who sees me coming toward them. What do they see first? How plumpy I am? I mean what do they notice first?”

Without hesitation my daughter said “Your mouth…going.” We burst into simultaneous laughter. She’s right. I talk like I blog…nonstop. Still laughing, my daughter then informed me that they probably notice that I’m Asian. Continuing, she told me that her dancer friends notice my smile first, and that my eyes  squint in a stereotypical Asian manner. Now it was my turn to say “What???” “Yeah,” she said, “Don’t you notice how we squint our eyes when we laugh or smile? Caucasian eyes don’t do that. Go look at dad when he smiles.” So I raced down the hallway in search of my husband who is half Portuguese. Asking him to smile, which he already is when my daughter and I burst through the partially open bedroom door, I noticed that she was right! His eyes were wide open. No matter how broadly he smiled, his eyes looked like saucers. Turning to my daughter, who had a huge grin on her face, her Asian eyes were squinting. (She’s probably only one-quarter Portuguese or less.) 

What do you think?  Is my daughter correct in her assessment, or is she hallucinating?

not 100% convinced, but we have a lot of laughs…hugmamma.

no mystery, off the court…or on

Well, just as I suspected. I’m sure you did as well. “NO PEANUTS!” ordered my doctor, when I saw him a few hours ago. At least not until my “thick” tongue and abnormal throat symptoms disappear. Prescribing Benadryl should the symptoms return, I laughed knowing he’d give me some good old-fashioned remedy, just as he did for the rash on my right eyelid. For that, he told me to apply a dab of non-prescription 1% hydrocortisone ointment. I like my doc, he’s just a regular guy, nothing “fancy schmanzy” about him.     

After typing the final period on my previous post, I noticed my throat slowly starting to constrict once again. Time for playing doctor was over. I needed an expert’s opinion. Fortunately there was a cancellation, if I could hurry myself over to his office in 20 minutes. I said “You bet! I’ll speed.” To which the receptionist laughingly replied “No! Don’t do that.” I laughed back “No, no. Just kidding. I won’t.” And off I went, driving like a bat outta…

The male nurse ushered me into the examining room with a look of surprise. “Weren’t you just here?” I told him I had been there a couple of days ago for my eye, but now it was my throat. “Old age,” I declared chuckling, “I’m falling apart.” We both laughed in commiseration.

Once we were seated in the room, the nurse began telling me about his ailments, a problem ankle and a hip needing replacement. Now mind you, this young man, and I say young because he must’ve been some 15 years younger than me, got my total attention. Listening to his tale, I felt like I had a superficial cut in need of a band-aid. He was injured during his service in the army. When I asked what had happened, he told me I would laugh as others had done. I said I wouldn’t, and I didn’t, because an injury is no laughing matter, however it occurs. In fact, I told him my husband would totally sympathize with him because he’d been in a similar accident. But unlike my husband who waited a couple of years before the injury was really bad and in need of surgery, the nurse’s leg was immediately placed in a cast. He wasn’t ambulatory for some time.

Basketball is not child’s play when you’re up against a guy weighing 209 pounds, or when you’re “pushing” 40 and going up against a college kid. Moms and wives know these things. Why won’t men ever listen to us?

enough said…hugmamma