Saturday, September 27, 2008

A visit to the Dentist

A few days ago I went to the dentist. I had to. I had no choice at all. I was in pain. Actually, that’s wrong - I was in agony. The top right hand molar, second from the end was giving me so much pain that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Eating was a nightmare. I was also grumpy, though trying not to be. I was living on pain killers. I had so many pain killers that my kidneys went into overtime mode. I kept waking up in the middle of the night absolutely busting for a pee. After so many pees, I must have been getting dehydrated as my urine changed in colour to a not-quite-right orangeade .

Now the particular tooth in question was one I could live without. After all, I still had my upper right end molar, and my lower right end molar was still intact, so chewing and grinding or even gnashing would still be within my dental capabilities. Also, I just knew that this would be no simple filling job, but a root canal job. Root canal jobs, as we all know mean only two things. The first is no immediate relief from the pain. The second is several trips back to the dentist and a sudden emptying of the bank account. There was only one thing for it. No beating about the bush. No messing. No hesitation. It had to come out.

After the obligatory questions such as “are you sure you want me to take it out”, and “are you really sure you want it out”, and “you could have root canal treatment and keep the tooth” - the dentist finally conceded that in the “to extract or not to extract” department, I was the boss.

I settled back into the chair, relaxing in its warm embrace. The dentist’s mouth lamp stared at me like some bug eyed creature from a science fiction movie.

The dentist decided to take an x-ray before beginning the extraction. He showed me the resulting image and there it was - two long roots projecting deep into the gum.

I felt a deep sense of joy as the needle penetrated my gum - several times. It didn’t matter that it hurt. It didn’t matter that my gums swelled up with the sheer volume of the anaesthetic which was being pumped in. What mattered was that this bloody tooth which was causing me so much agony was about to meet its maker - but not without a fight, as I was about to find out!

After the standard wait of about five minutes for my mouth to “numb up”, the stage was finally set for the dentist to pick up the extraction forceps and pull the critter out.

Now at this point I should say that my expectation was that this would be a very quick affair and that I should be out the door after a total of about 15 minutes. My appointment was for 9 ‘o clock and I had a work planning meeting to attend which started at 10’ o clock. No problem.

The dentist grabbed my tooth and began to yank it about from side to side, and front to back to compress the bone in which the tooth was set and create an enlarged cavity thus loosening the tooth for the final pull of extraction. The “final pull of extraction” began. He pulled. He yanked. He pulled again. He pulled hard. He pulled really hard. I pulled back in a vain effort to assist. The first attempt a failure he picked up a levering implement and poked it down the cavity beside the tooth and began to lever away. Back to the forceps, he resumed the pulling and yanking once again.

At around this point, the realization set in with me that this was one tooth which was not going to budge. Although the anaesthetic worked well, I could still detect pressure and the feeling I was getting was that the roots of the tooth were firmly welded into the bone. It felt as if it was necessary for my whole bottom jaw to be pulled out if the tooth was going to be budged. In fact, all sorts of gory visions started to flood my mind, and it was clear that as extractions went, I was in for the long haul - or should I say pull. The dentist, whilst doing a very good job of keeping cool and concealing any emotions of panic, kept assuring me that everything was okay, and asking if I was alright. Of course I was all right, in a near death experience sort of way.

Just to reassure me further and put me more at ease he told me that his next move was to drill vertically through the tooth to cut it in half and take it out one root at a time. He then proceeded to drill. And drill. And drill. At this point I realised the anaesthetic was starting to wear off - I had been in the chair for three days now - and suddenly I felt the drill searing into the nerve. My hand shot up and I began to make a combination of bovine lowing and velociraptor screeching noises. Thankfully, he stopped the drilling and injected yet more anaesthetic into my already swollen gum which was gradually performing an imitation of the Hindenburg airship and taking up most of the remaining space in my mouth.

After a further 5 minutes of “numbing up” time, the yanking was resumed - to no avail. It was now time to bring in the heavy artillery.

The door opened and in walked the receptionist. I could tell the situation was getting serious. She positioned herself behind me and put both hands around my head to steady me for the final “push”- well, pull really. He pulled. Nothing happened. He pulled harder. Nothing happened. He pulled astonishingly hard. Something snapped and the vibration rattled through my skull. Part of the tooth had come away, but both the roots were still firmly implanted. He switched to instruments with hooks and levers and much pulling, pushing and levering ensued. I could taste blood.

Suddenly, I felt a root come out with a sudden snap. “Yes”! the dental nurse cried out with an air of triumph. The root was placed into the tray. The dentist resumed with more pulling, pushing and levering. I could feel an increase of blood in my mouth and the whole of the right side of my face was starting to throb. There was a further snapping sound as more tooth broke away.

At this point the dentist decided enough was enough. I could have told him that myself but for the mouth full of blood. I had a good rinse and was given a gauze pad to bite on and a bill for £65. I was told the other root was still in my jaw and I should leave it a couple of weeks before deciding whether to come back again. I was advised that if I did, it might be a hospital job. I was starting to feel as if I belonged in hospital anyway.

I dragged myself out to the reception where a girl was sat in the waiting area awaiting her appointment. She went white on seeing me as I seemed unable to stop saliva mixed with blood dribbling from my mouth and dropping to the floor. Her mother cooed reassurance into her ear. I dribbled more gore onto the floor. “Don’t worry about that” said the receptionist, and proceeded to clean up my mess. I paid my bill. The receptionist advised me not to go to work, but to go to bed instead. I didn’t argue and complied in full.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Change and feeling

I feel the urge to write, though I'm not sure what. I feel as if my life is taking a radical change in direction, and things will never be the same again. There are so many things I want to do with my life, and I am more and more conscious of how rapidly life is passing me by. My creative instincts are taking over, and I feel the need to create much because it is a part of what makes us human.

I have a great need of beauty. music, countryside, landscape. That's probably why I love photography so much. Its a chance to capture beauty, and preserve it to ponder over later, and for future generations. The power of music and wonderful images together can stir the soul, inspire, and even change lives. I feel my life being changed..irrevocably. I am changing, growing older, moving on, dying, transforming, loving........and feeling sadness.

I guess I'm feeling somewhat doleful, or even maudlin. I have a warm glow of anticipation, and yet a sadness that the things and people I love in life are changing and disappearing. Its important to hang onto the things and people who you love. Its important to use your creative talents to good effect,. Its important to be truthful and keep a sense of proportion and humour. Its also important to realise that no matter how bad life might seem at the moment, it will change - but not always for the better. Even so, I cope.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Royal Visit

This morning when I awoke, I wished my wife a happy birthday, and before she could get out of bed I lavished lots of really nice presents on her. I don’t do this sort of thing every morning, only on those which happen to be her birthday, otherwise she’d get very confused – you understand.

After I had walked the dog and my wife had spring cleaned the whole house, practiced her Kung Fu and said goodbye to the milkman, we jumped into the car and set off to Sandringham House to see Liz and Phil. We arrived to find that Liz and Phil must have got wind of our surprise visit, and decided to surprise us themselves by not being there!

I have driven through, around and by Sandringham many times in the past, but never actually stopped to get out and see how the other side live. As my wife and I are manic photographers and we had both taken the day off work to have a birthday day out, Sandringham seemed an obvious choice, as well as a place where people of our refined breeding and high standing in society would feel naturally at home.

After parking the car – a Kia Carens – (I believe the Queen is thinking of getting one herself soon), the first port of call was the bog. My wife reported to the throne room, while I made my way to the House of Lords – where all the big knobs hang out. Feeling suitably relieved and flushed, we made a bee line to the hise ………….errrr………I mean the house. Before entering in, we amused ourselves frolicking in the gardens and wondering at the fat golden statue of the Buddha, and seeing how many ways we could photograph Old Father Time – his statue, that is.

The SS Guard at the entrance to the house ordered us to put our cameras away, or at least switch them off, as well as our mobile phones. He assured us that if we didn’t we would not be shot, but did not tell us what fate would really befall us if we disobeyed.

The house was full, as you would expect, of very old and highly ornate furniture. It was clear the Queen doesn’t go to Ikea. As well as all the other paraphernalia, there were lots of weapons – guns, swords, spears, knives etc. It was apparent that the house had a dark side apart from making money from the visiting peasants, and that was killing poor, unsuspecting animals. One of the attendants assured me that the Royals would be up before Christmas to bag a few more. Great fun for them, though their prey might see it differently.

I took a close look, donning my reading glasses, at a shell from the Boer War which had been adapted and transformed into a clock, which stood pointing proudly to the ceiling. The attendant leaned over to me and said that it was actually an unexploded shell, and implied it could still explode. I suggested it was just biding its time, awaiting the right moment…………

Being a bit of a bookworm, I paid particular interest to the very sumptuous ancient books adorning the shelves of the glass fronted book cabinets. There were amongst others, history books, political books, and books of speeches by people now made obscure by the mists of antiquity.

“I wonder if they ever open any of the books and actually read them”, an old man asked rhetorically. I commented to my wife that maybe the Queen was a member of the “Folio Society” – but maybe not.

Leaving the house behind, we continued our wonderings around the grounds, taking in the museum while we were at it.

I have got to say that the gardens are absolutely beautiful, amongst the most lovely gardens I have ever visited anywhere in the world. It was a real pleasure walking by the lake and smelling the aromas from all the flowers which were everywhere.

We did laugh at one point – oh how we laughed – when we came across an old dear having a conversation on her mobile phone. She was speaking very loudly, so we couldn’t miss her. What made us titter was just how sickeningly posh she was verbeaging across the network. “Yes” was replaced by “yaah” – she wasn’t German. Maybe she was affected by where she was. Maybe that once she got outside of the wire, she would revert to a more “Gore blimey guvner” sort of way……or maybe not.

We concluded our exploration of the estate in visiting the Church – you know, the one the Royals are always seen on the telly walking into on Christmas Day. It’s called the Church of St Mary Magdalene. To look at from the outside it looks like a perfectly ordinary Parish Church. However, once you step inside you are confronted by one of the most beautiful and ornate alters I have seen in such a church. Clearly, the Royal connection has benefitted it well.

It cost us £9 each to visit the Royal Estate, and in my opinion it was worth every penny.
We polished off what had been a perfect day with a large soft ice cream cornet each, and a plate of fish and chips at a restaurant in Hunstanton. The sun shone all day, and set - surrounded by a pink horizon.