I am now mercury-free. The fillings, not the planet.
I kicked off my weekend with a trip to the family dentist who was delighted to line my old tooth craters with composite resin and his wallet with dollar bills.
I settled into the pleather recliner and adjusted the plastic-lined headrest.
“How are you this morning?” asked the good doctor, snapping his latex gloves.
“Actually a bit anxious for some reason,” I replied, “Just being honest.”
“It has something to do with sitting in this chair, I guess,” he said with a wink.
Now, I know I had nothing to fear. This is a dentist my children have grown up loving. But there’s something just wrong about two people putting both their hands inside my mouth at once, while I control my gag reflex and try to think about Bali.
“I’m going to use this spacer in your mouth,” he said, wrapping my lips around a plastic ring, “and this bite block should fit comfortably just here,” he popped a plastic wedge into my right jaw. The assistant clipped a blue bib around my neck and giant windshield glasses went on next.
Everything after that is anyone’s guess, because I closed my eyes and prayed for the dawn.
He held numbing gel on a long Qtip in my cheek, then went diving with his syringe a couple of times. He hummed a little tuneless tune and made a comment or two on the weather.
His assistant was lining up the implements of torture.
Cross your feet the other way.
Unfist your hands. There. Good job.
I need to swallow. Oh no. He told me not to because at this point tiny shrapnel is flying from his drill and quicksilver doom is everywhere.
I used the secret hand signal: grabbing my throat.
“Suction,” he said without skipping a beat.
I made it through three re-fills, got a pat on the head, and sent to the lobby to pay.
And that’s when the novocaine kicked in.
Half of my mouth, cheek, chin, and lips were frozen, so when I smiled and asked for a pen, only half of me smiled and only half of the question was understandable.
Thankfully, the people here spoke Novocaine.
Starting the car, I realized my tonsils were gone and upon further investigation, so was half of my tongue. I tried not to drool.
I drove to the grocery store. Shopping hungry is never a good plan, but I had to fill time until I was able to eat again. Or at least have a cuppa.
I gathered up my reusable bags (thank you California voters) and hit the dairy aisle. Somewhere around the egg display, my left eye socket went numb.
It felt like my eyeball was sitting in a frozen shot glass, with a film of ice forming over it.
I dashed through the store, because things were just getting weirder by the minute.
My sinus cavity was tingling.
What if this stuff leaked into my brain? Huh? Did anyone think this through?
No one spoke Novocaine at the checkout. I ducked my head and swiped my debit card.
I discreetly dabbed at my nose. Was it running?
I threw my groceries into the backseat and reached for a mirror.
I gave my nostrils a flare-check. The left one was definitely drooping. There was no reviving it. The entire left side of my face was gone. There were no worries, no emotions anywhere in the landscape. My perfectly smooth cheek had given it up.
My lips, on the other hand, felt fresh out of a cosmetic plumping.
I poked around.
The left side of me was a svelte pouty movie star and my right side was a wrinkled anxious hot mess.
Then my ear went cold.
I drove straight home before my left arm and leg decided to go on strike.
Ya’all, the novocaine lasted all day. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink. Not without it all coming down my shirtfront.
Had the stuff travelled to the center of my forehead and abolished the wrinkles there, it might have made up for an entire day without tea.
But I doubt it.
I’ve been compensating ever since: I threw a big tea party here and sampled every sweet and drank POTS of tea, and today we had a grilled cheese and soup lunch at work involving bacon and butter. I may have paid a visit to my masseuse to spread the fat around evenly.
Sitting in a camembert stupor, thinking of tea and cheese and orbiting spheres, it came to me how closely I resemble a Hollywood celebrity after all: