Aug 30, 2009

Drill, baby, drill…

In second grade my dentist, Dr. Rymer, broke the news.  I had eight cavities.  Count them.  Eight.  Not wanting to put me through a tortuous episode of filling eight cavities all at once, Dr. Rymer had mercy on me and put me through two tortuous episodes filling four cavities each time. Wasn’t that sweet? The first episode was bad.  They had to drag me kicking and screaming to the second one.

Before you write in and tell me that there is no pain, I know, I know.  But pain is a relative concept.  There is more than one kind of pain.  Fear is a kind of pain.  The day before I went to see Dr. Rymer my father told me his story of dental pain.

He was a young man in college and had gone to the dentist for a toothache.  The dentist determined that my dad had a cavity.  This dentist filled the cavity and my father started driving home.  But somewhere on the way home the Novocain wore off.   It appears that the dentist had pinched a nerve with the filling.  My father said the pain was growing exponentially.  He turned the car around and immediately headed back to the dentist.  But with each block, the pain was growing so intense he thought about driving into a telephone pole to end it.  “They do a much better job these days.  Have a nice day at the dentist tomorrow”, he said.  Thanks dad.  Love you, too.

I must have formed a bond with Dr. Rymer.  He was my dentist for about 30 years.  Every time I see a new dentist, they always comment on how good my cavities are.  The good news is that after eight cavities, my teeth didn’t have room for more.  The bad news is that over time the cavities wear out.  35 years passed without another cavity.  Until this week.

About a month ago, my annual checkup showed that a cavity needed to be replaced.  After cancelling the appointment twice, I finally couldn’t avoid it any more.  Now I am sure that dental procedures have improved over the last 35 years, but it sure seems about the same to me.  First they numb your tooth and then they start drilling.  The smell of drilled tooth dust brought me back to second grade when Dr. Rymer tried to soothe me with his quiet words and soft smile… all the while hammering away at my teeth like John Henry mining for coal.  

Prayer and meditation helps one through dental work.  But I still found myself worrying after the procedure, when the Novocain wears off, will I have a pinched nerve?

On a related note, this week, dentists at Texas A&M performed dental work on Tibore, a 17-year-old dancing black bear.  Of course, she was completely anesthetized and out cold for the procedure.  Hah!  If dental pain is so insignificant, why bother?

After the Novocain wore off, my first meal was, ironically, an apple.  Ironic, because dental pain is a result of original sin… eating from the tree of Good and Evil.  I may have another cavity in this life, but the real Good News is that because of Jesus, my teeth in eternity will never undergo dental drilling again.

Blessings, Pastor David Hook