A Visit to the Dentist: Part II
We had to wait about half an hour before the dentist returned. The last time I had been to the dentist with my mother I was in the dentist’s chair and she sat nearby, so it felt strange sitting there with my mother in a reversal of roles. What was not like the long-ago trip to the dentist, though, was our conversation. Whenever my mother is in an unfamiliar place she gets very confused, and this time it was no different. My mother knew that a tooth was to be removed, but was mixed up about whose tooth it was.
“Don’t you have to get back to work? You don’t have time to get your tooth pulled,” my mother said, looking at me.
“Mom, it is your tooth that has to be pulled. Not mine. Are you trying to get out of it?” I said, trying to use humor to help her save face.
A few minutes later we were talking about my daughter when she said, “How can she have her tooth pulled today when she has to take care of the kids?”
“Now I know you are trying to get out of it,” I said. “You are the one with the loose tooth. Can’t you feel it in your mouth?”
My mother pushed her tongue to the side of her mouth. “Oh yes, it is loose.”
The dentist finally arrived along with a large syringe filled with Novocain. I always wonder about the size of syringe dentists use. You’d think they were going to knock out an elephant, not numb a gum! The dentist had to give my mother five doses before she said she couldn’t feel anything, and then it only took two minutes to remove the tooth.
After the nurse packed her gum with gauze and we listened to instructions from the dentist, I went to the front desk and made an appointment for the hygienist to clean her teeth.
This appointment, it turned out, had to be cancelled twice, because of a “lockdown” at Atria. I know, it sounds like a terrorist threat, but it wasn’t. There was an epidemic of gastrointestinal flu among the residents and everyone was confined to their rooms for two weeks. Residents could not leave and no one could visit. So the last time I saw my mother before the restriction was lifted was the day after the dentist appointment when I stopped by to see how she was doing. “You’ll never guess what happened yesterday,” she said, when I sat down to talk. “I didn’t want to worry you, but I had a loose tooth. But it’s OK now. I pulled it out.” She opened her mouth and showed me. The gum was healing nicely.