I had the worst root canal with the best view. I assumed it was a sinus thing and since I was already on meds for a UTI, I thought, "Huh. One antibiotic, two targets, we got this." But the sinus thing didn't go away and when my fork accidentally touched my tooth while I was eating at my desk and I screamed -- I SCREAMED -- my coworkers kind of said in unison: "Will you go to a dentist, please."
Bacteria was circling the root of a troublesome molar. My dentist had photos to prove it.
"That sounds like a root canal," I said when he explained how to alleviate my pain.
"I was trying not to say those words ..." he said.
"Can't I just, like, take some antibiotics to kill the infection?" I asked.
"That's a good question," he said, then turned to his hygienist. "Isn't that a good question?"
"No one has ever asked that before," she agreed.
"But no," he said.
"No?" I said and looked at the hygienist.
She shook her head.
Two days later I was at the endodontics as the sun rose over Lake Superior. I mean, they gave me sunglasses to wear in the chair and when a 1,000-foot freighter passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge the doctor and the hygienist both bolted for the window like genuine ship geeks.
Long story short, my anesthesia wore off -- a few times, actually -- and tears rolled off my face from beneath my sunglasses. I screamed. I yelled "Stop." They dabbed at my tears with a Kleenex. Kleenexes. "Are you a redhead," the doctor asked. I nodded. "But that's not a real thing, is it?" Flashback to my OB/GYN telling me that redheads have a low tolerance for pain. It is true, this tooth doctor tells me, and we also cycle through anesthesia faster. Wipes tears. "I thought it was folk lore," I sniffed. "It's not," she said.
Toward the end, I had a face spasm and the hygienist chucked a bunch of Tylenol and Advil into my face and the doctor massaged my jaw and gave me her cell phone number and I thought "Why does it have to be like this. Why can't we get out of this place and go, like, talk about aging gracefully. Do you like lattes? Because I think I do."
Within an hour, I was fine and Chuck and I went out for lunch.