Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#003 In which an unfortunately named doctor provides service.

I need a root canal. Naturally, this is nothing I'm looking forward to, especially considering my past experiences:

I had my wisdom teeth removed my senior year of college. And when you have them all removed at once, as I did, it involves a certain amount of pain and a great deal of swallowed blood. I had student health insurance, so naturally I went to the student clinic for this procedure. Now, I wasn't especially concerned about this, even though I knew that it would be student dentists working on me. All I knew is that I needed to have these damn hurting teeth pulled, and if I waited much longer I'd graduate and have to foot the bill myself.

So I scheduled surgery. I first had to fight with my boss at the crappy restaurant I was working at - I was under the mistaken notion that "I going to have oral surgery" trumped "you're supposed to run the fryer that day." I gave them more than 24 hours notice that I wasn't going to be there, I think that's more than fair.

You know that scene in every corny movie where the patient is about to go under the knife and there's a tray of horrific-looking instruments next to their bed? Well, that's EXACTLY what happened. Sitting down, I spied these medieval torture implements which were, presumably, about to be used on my mouth. IN my mouth.

Once I was situated, the eager students (there must have been five of them) went to work readying equipment and looking at my mouth with hungry eyes. I guess if you're a dentist-in-waiting, something other than a routine cleaning would be exciting; to assist with oral surgery must have nearly put them over the edge with spasms of pleasure.

I had expected a giant mask happily spurting laughing gas to appear, but what I got instead was a needle rudely jammed into my arm. Once this was done, the students became still, waiting for me to slip into dreamland so they could enact their horrors upon my mouth. Just then, the doctor arrived.

He gave me a quick once over, and introduced himself. "I'm Dr. Herpes," he said.

Yes, that's right. Doctor. Herpes.

I had begun to slip away, but had enough wit left to say, "What an unfortunate name for a doctor."

He replied that it was spelled differently and that's just about all I remember. But good lord! If your name is Herpes (or Hurpis, or Heepees, or however you spell it) and you're a doctor, you might want to pronounce it differently, too! Just tell your patients you name is "Harpies," for pity's sake!

It occurred to me later that insulting the man who's about to cut open your mouth isn't the best of ideas. However, he seemed to get the job done and if he pissed in my open craw before I woke up I was none the wiser.

I received great pain drugs afterward and avoided the horrors of "dry socket," which is when you open your stitches and expose the socket where your tooth used to be, and it's now naked nerve to the air. This is apparently equivalent in pain to smashing your testicles with a ball-peen hammer. So you want to avoid that if you can.

A strange side effect of the whole thing was that my tongue turned green. Apparently, there's all sorts of strange critters that live in your mouth, but they're generally kept in check with regular eating and brushing. Since it felt like Dr. Herpes (!) used Archimedes' lever to crank open my mouth, I hadn't moved my jaw more than half an inch for weeks, and had only eaten soup. Some formerly repressed algae saw this as the opportunity they needed and went crazy homesteading in my mouth. But, a week of vigorous scrubbing with my toothbrush put those upstarts back in their place.

So now, eleven years later, I need a root canal. And I can almost hear the jack-booted algae leaders plotting their coup.