Remember that movie? No? Well, gee, there were TWO of them. The original is a classic 1968 Steve McQueen/Faye Dunaway thriller. The remake in 1999 stars Pierce Brosnam and Rene Russo. Good movies! But they have nothing to do with today’s post.
Today it was the Duke of Earle Crown Affair. Yes, my summer cold is now a thing of the past. This is the day I had the privilege of getting prepped to receive my gold crown on ol’ molar number 19.
Appointment: 3:40 p.m.
Arrival time: 3:35 p.m.
3:45 — I am escorted back from the waiting area into THE CHAIR. I have a glimmer of how the condemned man must feel walking to the other CHAIR, “old sparky.” No, I’m not a total wimp. (OK, maybe that depends on who you ask.) But I’m not a big fan of poking, prodding, drilling, grinding, and other similar activity performed in my mouth, even WITH Novocain.
3:48 — Dr. Lott appears, all gloved and masked and ready to start things. He hefts this giant syringe off the tray in front of me and says with what sounds like a smile (his face well hidden behind the mask), “OK, you’re going to feel a little pinch.”
Why do they always say that? I know; it’s psychology. Your ear hears “pinch” and your brain imagines a little harmless squeezing together of your skin between two fingers. Nothing invasive—just a hard enough squeeze to cause a tiny sting.
But your eyes see this 4-inch-long SHARP POINTED OBJECT coming towards the soft, moist, sensitive tissues inside your mouth, and tell your brain, “NO! This isn’t going to PINCH. It’s going to stick a hole through my skin, into my flesh, and maybe all the way into my jawbone! It’ll probably bleed. It’s going to HURT LIKE HELL!”
Your brain, being essentially visually oriented, always believes your eyes rather than your ears.
To my mild surprise, the doctor uses one hand to wiggle my left cheek and inserts the needle into a couple of areas with almost no pain at all. I can feel a little tingle as he pushes the plunger just enough to inject the numbing liquid. I release my death-grip on the padded arms of the chair and allow my rigid legs to bend a little. I even tell him, “Nicely done. I hardly felt that at all.”
His smiling voice comes back, “Good, but I’ve got one more location I’ve got to do.” I’m relaxed now and open wide. OH, SHIT! That one hurt! Dammit, he set me up!
To my great relief the syringe now disappears, the mask comes off, and the doctor says, “OK, I’ll be back in about 15 minutes after you’ve had a chance to get numb.”
4:10 — He’s back, re-masked and all business. He pokes around a bit in the vicinity of number 19 to make sure I am, in fact, numb. I am. He nods, picks up his tools and gets to work.
Lots of high-pitched, high-speed grinding. Sounds like: “zzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeee.” Lots of water spray around my face. Then comes the lower speed grinding that sounds like he’s got a three-inch grinding wheel on the end of a stiff shaft. Sounds like: “bbbrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrb-b-b.” I can smell smoke, which I know is the surface of my poor number 19 molar vaporizing under the assault from the power tools.
From the sounds, vibrations and smells my brain knows I ought to be feeling pain. So I sort of imagine that I am. But in reality it’s just vibration and a little pressure.
After an eternity that, by the clock, lasted exactly 6 minutes, he announces, “OK. That’s done. Now let’s get an impression and we’ll fit you with the temporary.”
He’s done? No more grinding? Gee, that didn’t hurt a bit!
Dr. Lott and his assistant get a little plastic tray and using (I swear!) a caulking gun; he fills it up with a clear gooey gel. He places it carefully over my lower jaw and says, “Bite down. Good, hold that for 3 minutes.”
He and the assistant talk about the new software they’re buying for the office computer network.
When the timer dings, he takes the impression out and checks it. He frowns and says it wasn’t a good one; they’ll have to try another.
Unable to resist, and maybe a little giddy with relief that the grinding is over and it really didn’t hurt, I feign real disappointment and say, “Oh, no!”
Concerned, the doctor asks what’s the matter. I look at him wide-eyed and say, “Well, you know how hard it is to overcome a bad first impression.”
I swear he laughed for the next five minutes. I guess no one ever told him that one before. Or maybe he was just being polite.
Despite my attempt at comic relief, the next impression WAS a good one, the temporary crown was fashioned and put in place, and I was allowed up from the chair (reprieve!) and told to come back in three weeks for the real, gold crown!
OK, I promised you a detailed description of the experience. There ’tis.