Three cards each day, I choose in hopes of gleaning some perspective. Today, I pulled the Queen of Wands, the Death card and the Nine of Wands. Not usually literal, the Death card means the ending of something. With a root canal scheduled this morning, I hoped it didn't refer to the death of a tooth.
But if one has to have a dreaded dental procedure, there is no better place to be than San Francisco. Especially on a clear and sunny day like today.
And if one has to visit a endodontist, there is no one better than the amazingly skillful and endlessly gentle Dr. Ralan Wong.
I won't lie, I was nervous. The tooth in question had been roto-rooted once before six years ago in an attempt to stop it from killing itself due to a trauma long ago in a car accident. It's called internal resorption, which is something I would never wish on anyone, friend or foe.
Here's a clinical definition: "Internal resorption is a condition where the slow or fast resorption of the dentin of the pulp, and the internal walls of the root canals occurs."
And then there's this one: "The cause of internal resorption is generally unknown, but trauma of chronic inflammation in the pulp is believed to activate undifferentiated cells in the pulp connective tissue to become clastic cells."
It doesn't much matter aside from the fact that my own tooth is against itself, hence my date with Dr. Wong. We are trying to prevent the loss of the tooth and will not know the outcome for three months or so. If it doesn't work, I will have to get an implant. It is a valiant struggle. Also costly. Insurance pays $1400 and I pay $500.
I will not show pictures, as they are certain to be unappealing.
Luckily, the ever considerate Dr. Wong is aware of this patient's acute nervousness, which is why I'm placed in a chair that massages my back throughout the procedure. It's no pedicure, of course, but I appreciate it. Given a list of film titles, I choose a favorite, "Lost in Translation." Since the appointment only lasts an hour, I don't want to miss the ending of something I've never seen. I mean, how would I get through the rest of the day? I really really really like the soundtrack to this film.
When it was all over, I was relieved and a little shaky. I don't know why. Leaving the office, the world looked the same, but I felt strangely vulnerable. My nose itched and when I moved to scratch it, I couldn't feel anything.
Now I'm home safe, and slowly unnumbing. Dr. Wong said there should be nothing more than a little tenderness or sensitivity as the anaesthetic wears off. He gave me a bunch of 600 mg Advils. I can even call him at home if I get uncomfortable this weekend. With no dietary restrictions, I'm looking forward to pizza and wine for dinner, especially the wine. Maybe I'll open a Brook's pinot noir in a hopeful salute to my brave little tooth.