The Red Shirt Diaries #4

Can you spot the fake?

img_1524 Tooth.

Myrtle tried to kill me Sunday night.


Which is why this is the 4th edition of TRSD and not the 3rd.  I described her prior attempt in another blog post – maybe Mercury Poisoning? nonono…it’s this one, but Mercury Poisoning is still a pretty fun read on everything that can possibly go wrong in my life – so I retired TRSD #3 in acknowledgment of her previous efforts.

Plus, who would have thought my near death reporting would need to come so soon on the heels of issue 2?

But this wasn’t a dream where I died or my acceptance of the potential to die being hit by a car going the wrong way on a one-way street.

This was my pet tolling the bell.


You’d think she’d show a little gratitude for buying her – after months of considerable effort to find her an palatable option – the good stuff.

Or scooping her litter box.

And if not gratitude, at least a little subtlety.

No, no Myrtle.

I’m zombie-walking to the bathroom in a cold medicine induced haze and guess who trips me.


Sidebar:  you have to go read Mercury Poisoning now…I just realized these two posts will have a special surprise commonality.

img_1040Since I’m now a pro at falling down when Myrtle trips me, I fall backwards while overcorrecting to avoid landing on my face again.

Lesson learned.

But, damn my own cat-like reflexes…somehow I twist midair in some feline attempt to land on my feet and end up on my front side once again.  I can almost bend my right leg without tearing open the scabs on my knee from the jute rug I landed on, once again.

Better my knee than the old face like last time, right?


This time, as I’m picking myself up off the hallway floor, my hand lands in what I immediately and incorrectly identify as a broken lightbulb.  I’m thinking – again, incorrectly – that I must have managed to kick the entry table hard enough on my way down to knock the lamp off of it and onto the floor.

Luckily, I hadn’t cut myself on what turned out to not be a shattered incandescent light bulb.

Because it was my front tooth.

I’ve scrabbled on my knees over to the aforementioned hallway table and turned on my unbroken light and am presently kneeling there in my hall looking at shards of incisor on my palms and floor.  I think I’m in shock.  Gently feeling the backs of my front teeth with my tongue.

My upper front right incisor isn’t where it’s supposed to be.

img_1215-1I’ve now – quite literally – assumed this posture and demeanor:

What the serious fuck.  I’m coming up on a year with Myrtle and this is the second near death experience at her hands.  What’s my responsibility here?  I push that aside as a second – more amusing, in this particular moment – thought pops into my mind:  I’ve come one step closer to turning into my father.

But, I’m pulled from that revelry at the reminder that I am stuck in this actual moment where I’m faced with trying to make a plan at 10:30 on a Sunday night about what may or may not be a serious dental crisis.

I’m surprisingly in no pain.

Other than my knee, I’m not bleeding…although I’ll soon discover an enamel shard has embedded itself in my upper lip.  I say “soon” because I cannot bring myself to survey the damage in the mirror.

I dry-swallow a couple pain killers – just in case – and head to bed just to lay there; unable to sleep.

I think of my dad.  When he was – and I’m sure I’ll get some of this wrong, because I was a kid when I heard this story…no telling how a child’s memory processes and stores things like this – a very young adult, maybe first year college, he was tossing a football with his best friend and took a point to the mouth.  The trauma ended up killing the same incisor – hence the memory – at the nerve, even though the tooth itself remained intact.  The only reason any of us kids ever knew about this is because that tooth slowly discolored over time.  Some 40 years later, he finally had to have it replaced with a crown.

I doubted my shituation was going to afford me that same “luxury” of time.

Actually, I hoped it would not…my greatest fear – ok, greatest fear aside from shark attacks and puncturing my eyeball – is dental trauma.  Especially in cases like this where the trauma is cosmetic.  Back when I said you had to read Mercury Poisoning?  Yeah, I described how I had chipped a molar on a bagel in that post and required a crown.

Correlations, people.

But, geez…how soon would I be able to get in to a dentist to get a temporary crown.  No matter coming up with $1600 for the damned thing.

Well, Monday, let me tell you.  Who thinks I left the house?

To quote Andy Warhol, “We are all deeply superficial” and none in my circle are more self aware about appearances – good or bad – than I.  It’s a shortcoming, I know…I’m working on it.

Nonetheless, despite the Silver Fox’s best efforts – which are not nearly artful enough for me to fall (ugh, that word) for – I holed up in the house, alone but for Myrtle, for the entire day.  I ordered $90 worth of soft food from New Seasons Market through Amazon Prime Now and instructed them to leave them at the door, so at least I was stocked up with soups and drinks.

I explored my hot/cold sensitivity while I waited on hold with my dentist.  Nothing significant, so I take that as a good sign.  Still, I want X-rays to ensure there is no damage to the root.

They can actually get me in at 8:00 Tuesday morning.

Something goes my way…YES!!!

With a 4th year student.


Otherwise, I’m welcome to come in at 7:30 and hope for a cancellation.

I opt for the sure thing.

Plus, college guys, right?

I brave a look in the mirror.  Not as bad as it feels, all information for the mental images I have conjured coming from my tongue’s probing of the backside of the tooth.  My tooth looks like Oklahoma, if you turned it sideways and stuck it in my gums.

The Fox is checking in – continuing his efforts to trick me out of hiding – throughout the day, like a good friend does.  I tell him I have an appointment and he shifts gears into planning our day after my appointment.



“Hold up, tiger…I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”

“Oh, you’ll be out in an hour!  It’s just a crown.”

I seriously doubt the simplicity of the procedure, but tell him that I’ll text him when I leave.  I also remind him that drinking coffee after Novocain is probably something he would enjoy more than I.  You have to admire the effort he puts into trying to get me out into the world and into a situation where I could embarrass myself doing commonplace things.

My experience at the dentist was completely unexpected.  I had forgotten that my dentist’s assistant is old.  He paired her up with the student, probably to ensure he had the biggest experience resource available…the result was awkward and comedic.

She’s also a verbal processor, so there’s a lot of “Let’s see, I’m gonna wipe all of this down before we get started” type of audibles flying around and you have to edit them out in order to hear anything she may say to you.

Or to the poor student, in this case.

Her tone with him is kind of grandmotherly type meets smartest person in the room co-worker type.

I listen to that power struggle while resisting the urge to interrupt and ask her just what the deal was with the pyramids.

I’m not kidding, she’s old.

X-ray looks good.  No cracks in the root.  Nerve is clear – not that this was presented as a positive, but that’s how I’m taking it – of the edge of the break.  I guess it’s receded, or something.  Still…into the “win” column that development goes.

Cold sensitivity at the break is consistent with the surrounding teeth, so there doesn’t seem to be any nerve damage, either.

They can rebuild the tooth.

Eff-yeah.  I’m getting a bionic tooth!

My Sunday may have ended pretty badly, but my Monday is looking to be off to a good start!  I mean, Doctor Student could be more my type, but why complain?

It’s getting close to 9:00, but the cues I’m picking up from the assistant’s running commentary is that we are about ready to start the repair.  It’s great news for me, but I sense that our young student also thinks it’s great since he’s that much closer to not having to have his actions second-guessed by someone who probably helped with George Washington’s dentures.


Just kidding.

But I’m working on wrapping up, here.

These two mismatched dental heroes confer about shading for the repair and then give me veto power over their final three choices.  The first choice was apparently the assistant’s favorite, because she clucked her tongue when I said, “I don’t see my teeth getting whiter in the future…” before rejecting that option.  The second option was pretty close, but more yellow/white.  Option three was the right mix of beige/white to look pretty much perfect, in my opinion.

It was Doctor Student’s favorite, too, as it turns out.  See, that right there?  That’s a gift, being able to flirt over the color of the composite for your tooth repair.

Luckily, the nurse started weaving a dental dam into my mouth, removing the potential to further this conversation.  She’s got pretty steady hands, that old gal.  Nonetheless, Doctor Student proceeds to assure me that by the time he’s done with me (mentally, I fanned my face with my hand) no one will ever know my front tooth is mostly fake.  Then he tells me one of his is, too.  I glare at Nurse Methuselah, since I’m unable to pursue this conversational thread due to the presence of both of her hands in my mouth.

No worries, I have sunglasses on so she doesn’t notice.

Anyway, at 10:15 Doctor Student was walking me out to the waiting room and I now possess a tooth that only I can tell isn’t the original model.  My lip is starting to get some feeling back into it, so coffee is looking like a sure possibility, too.

I decide to walk home, it’s only about 20 blocks and will take me over the Broadway Bridge – giving me a nice view of the river on one of the last nice days of Fall for the foreseeable future – and I’m off with a spring in my step, sending the universe a shout out for the positive resolution to what was a potentially catastrophic situation.

And saving me from any further consideration of Myrtle’s fate…probably not too surprisingly, she’s been fairly sweet the rest of the week.  Lulling me into a false sense of security for her next attempt, I’m sure.


The Red Shirt Diaries #4

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