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June 25, 2008

I guess yo’ lips weally aw impotant

Before this month, I hadn’t had a dental check up in an embarrassingly long time. My visits home while I was in college rarely coincided with my dentist office’s hours, and I’ve spent most of my post-college life without insurance. Facing another unknown span of time of being uninsured when I move to Portland, I figured the time was nigh for a cleaning.

As is to be expected, I had kind of a lot of work to be done… enough that required multiple visits. I returned to the office this morning to get fillings on the upper right and lower left sides of my mouth.

“Oh, Nugget..” sighed the dentist I’ve been seeing since I was 5 as he hunkered in beside my gaping maw. He injected each side of my gums with the longest needle I’ve seen in my life (though I was looking at it cross-eyed so I may have misjudged it). Tears streamed out of my eyes as he wedged the needle ever-deeper.

He left to give the Novocain some time to do its magic, and when he returned a few minutes later was disappointed to hear that only one side of my mouth was numb. He shot my left side with yet another needle-ful and set to work on my right side.

As I lay there, swallowing tooth dust and listening to the gurgling of his belly, the reporter in me couldn’t help but ponder what the life of his dentist was like. Was he judging me right now? Did he have a favorite procedure he was doing after lunch, the thought of which was getting him through the day? Have the prices of dental equipment stayed fairly steady throughout the years or have the companies conspired to artificially raise prices? Does he feel morally superior to orthodontists?

When he finished he asked how my left side was doing. It tingled a little, I told him, but it was nowhere near as dead as my right.

“Well,” he sighed. “I’m sorry, but that’s going to have to be where we end today. There’s a safe level of anesthetic I can give you and we’re bumping up against that. You’re going to have to come back.”

Crushed at the thought of having to return yet again, I got into my car and drove back to the office. I called my mom to tell her what happened, and it was then I realized the anesthetic had finally started to work.

“I’m hoving a weally hahd time talking and my wips feel funny,” I told Ma Nugget, who responded with gales of laughter. “The woost pawt is I’m weally, weally hungwy. I hope I don’ hafta do any innavoos. Oh cwap! I havta cawl Woger Weinawt!”

I got to the office and tried out a few words for Krupskaya, and the sound of my voice made me laugh so hard I started weeping. I called my brother, who told me I sounded like I’d had a brain injury, and my boyfriend, who told me I sounded like a stroke victim.

My next appointment is next Wednesday at 2. Give me a call afterwards if you’d like a sequel.

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