May 27, 2004

Blood on the Escalator

I have been traveling more that I would like these days. (Hence the stories about eating worms in Mexico) but the work demands it. So, remembering all my traveling days, I headed out to Denver today. There had been a big wreck on the freeway, so I probably left the house sooner than I had to. But my travel theory is walk briskly, and better early than late.

Anyway, I get to Houston Intercontinental Airport, pack, and go into the terminal to get on my plane. I don't need to check in, as I printed my boarding pass at work. I am walking through the terminal, trying to decide which security line to go through. I am passing the UP escalator, and a woman starts stumbling with her big bag (A square roller bag) her little bag. Her shoes (Dr Scholl's) that are falling off. I step up behind her to help her, and she FALLS DOWN ON TOP OF ME! Her bag rips a big chunk out of my finger, and I am about to be pushed down the escalator myself. As we reach the top, I am able to stabilize her, but not easily.

She says a quick embarrassed thank you and I head back down. My finger is streaming blood down my hand. I go to the Continental counter and ask for a first aid kit. They don't have one. I am now bleeding all over the floor. A manager finally gives me two little band aides from her purse I take them and walk down to the lower level into a bath room. I wash and clean myself up, and press paper towels on the wound. I then go up and get through security. I walk a LONG WAY to the new President's Club in the new Terminal E. (Incidental, there is a great art installation by some local artists there). They didn't have a first aid kit either, but at least they had some band aids. I was still bleeding when I took the paper towel off the wound). I patched myself up and hope the wound doesn't go septic.

What a mess. It is indeed true that no good deed goes unpunished!

Cracked Tooth or When do you just put up with the pain?

During my last trip to Denver (the one where my finger got sliced open doing a good deed) I notice a slight pain in one of my back molars (#31 to you dental fans out there). I tried to ignore it, but it was sensitive to hot, to cold, and to pressure. I figured that this was not a good sign, so I decided to try out my new dentist’s emergency services.

I called first thing Monday morning, and was impressed that they were able to get me in at 11:30 that day. It was a painful day for me (I have lost about five pounds because it hurts to eat. I have been sober all weekend because it hurts to drink, and Doreen said that it has been a very peaceful weekend for her, because it hurts to talk) and I arrived right on time. They had me sit in the waiting room for only a few minutes, and then strapped me in the dentist’s chair.

The movie Under the Tuscan Sun was playing. The sound was turned real low, which was fine with me. I like that Diane Lane. The rest of the folks looked like bit actors from a Clint Eastwood western. I have no real idea about that the plot of the movie is. I am not even sure it HAD a plot, but it involved a pregnant Asian woman, some rugged looking Italians, and some Polish (yes, Polish, from Poland, not polish as in buffing the furniture) workers.

But I was not really watching the movie. A Tech (or hygienist? I am not really sure. There were people traipsing in and out of there like it was Grand Central Station) came in and started talking to me about the tooth. Yes, sensitive to cold, Yes, to heat, yes, to pressure. Then she took a really cool little tool, a camera at the end of a pen shaped device and took a picture of my tooth. She then put the picture over the top of Diane Lane. (She is much better looking than my tooth, by the way) and showed me where there was a likely crack. We talked about dentists, and she asked why I was so nervous. I explained about Dr Mengele, I mean Dr Dean and his mistreatment of my poor teeth. She was surprised, and said that I could have as much and as many anesthetics as I wanted. So far, so good.

Then another tech came in, and was shooed away by the first one. I have no idea what her role was. Finally ANOTHER tech came in, and we talked again about pain killers. She explained about “the gas” to me, and what I would need to do to monitor my intake (breath through your nose until you are sufficiently intoxicated, then breath through your mouth. Try that with a mouth full of dental jelly)

At last the dentist came in (Dr Gervais. He grew up in El Paso). He looks at the tooth, made me bite down on some cotton, then he made me bite down on some hard thing or another, and then he started tapping my teeth with the handle side of a dental pick. The only thing that really hurt was the biting on the hard thing. He said, yup, cracked tooth. He had all sorts of long explanations about what could happen, but in the end he suggested (and what was I to do but accept?) that we put on a temporary crown.

He started with the Novocain. A jab here, and a jab there. It goes to work pretty quickly. So the tech could see that I was still pretty nervous, so she asked if I wanted gas. What the heck! I said sure. The gas made me woozy, and it was pretty hard to talk. Stuff in my mouth, something stuck on my nose, and now the doc came back. He started in with the drill, and I felt that shearing, intense pain that I knew so well from childhood. I grabbed the chair, and he asked if it hurt. I said “ywhsyheh hahhsy hh “ and he said OK. He jabbed me with some more needles, and said that his was a fast acting pain killer. He went to work again, and again I felt the pain. I grabbed the chair with my death grip, and he said (while drilling) “Does that hurt?” I tried to say “yes” but he thought I said “no” until there were tears in my eyes from the pain and the smoke that was coming off my sorry tooth. He finally stopped and asked me if I needed more pain killer. “Yesh” I mumbled through my tears. He gave me another couple of shots, and then started in on me again.

By this time, I was done asking for him to stop, and just put up with the pain. (I am so darned stoic) I knew the procedure couldn’t last too long, and I was right. I tried to concentrate on Diane Lane visiting some guy who already had a girlfriend, and then say that she was some Polish kid’s family. Tears all around.

When it was finally over, I was glad I had the gas. I just wish I had had more Novocain. Now I hope that my temporary crown lasts through another trip to Mexico, a trip to Appleton, and a trip to Paris.


Some will like this, some will not. Most will not care one way or the other.