Thursday, February 3, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Losing teeth

One thing I’ve neglected the past few years has been my teeth. Last week, I paid the price, in more ways than one.

That morning I had an appointment with an oral surgeon to remove three wisdom teeth, a molar that had been giving me some trouble and another tooth that was broken beyond repair. I’m not toothless now – but I’m closer than I was Tuesday of last week.

I had sort of dreaded the surgery, my first. I had never been “put to sleep” before, at least by modern medicine. I was knocked cold once in a high school basketball game. I successfully took a charge, but the end result was a hard tumble to the floor with my head hitting the court very hard.

The crazy thing about that injury was that I’m sure I had a slight concussion but still drove home from the game that night. That was crazy, but I was too young to know any different.

Thank goodness I had my wife Pam to drive me this time around.

I remember the doctor and a couple of nurses talking to me as they started the drugs. We were having some good conversation. Come to find out, the doctor and I knew some of the same folks. It’s always a small world.

One second I was laughing and cutting up. The next second I was out. The next thing I remember is waking up and suddenly being escorted to our van, parked out back. After the short walk, I became very sick. I will just leave it at that.

Then Pam drove me home, with gauze pads on both sides of my mouth to help absorb the blood. We stopped to pick up an antibiotic and pain killer.

I was still somewhat dizzy as she escorted me downstairs to the family room where I collapsed on the couch for several hours. I recall watching a bit of TV and then it was sleep, sleep and more sleep.

Someone joked, “This might be the only way to get you to take a vacation.”

Wrong. This was not my idea of a vacation.

Another quipped, “You will lose some weight.”

I suppose the person meant I could stand to lose some. Actually, Pam and I have been on a diet. No doubt, this would only boost that effort.

That afternoon Pam fixed me some warm broth, and later she brought me a chocolate milkshake. I’ve heard of folks going on a milkshake diet. Now that’s my idea of a diet.

I had decided to take the next day off work. Actually, it was doctor’s orders. That morning I felt pretty good, took a shower and felt better, and then thought about going into The South Reporter office.

“No way,” Pam said.

I learned a long time ago to listen to my wife – some of the time anyway. So I settled back on the downstairs couch for a day of relaxation with remote control in hand. Daytime TV isn’t my favorite, other than “The Price Is Right,” so I slept some more.

At lunch, I graduated to some vegetables and also some soft hamburger steak. I was so hungry. I had to remember to eat slowly and only chew using the teeth closer to the front. It was a bit painful, but it was worth it.

I made it to work on Friday, but I was about 60 percent, I think. I was weak and had a headache. Someone at the office remarked that I wasn’t my usual happy self. It wasn’t the best of days.

The recovery continues Monday (at the time of this writing). I’m still sticking to the softer foods, and I’m using up the antibiotic. I ditched the pain killer on the second day. The stitches are bugging me.

There seems to be a lesson or two in all of this. Mainly, keep regular appointments with your dentist and take care of your teeth.

I still have some repair work left, but hopefully the worst part is behind me. For now I am just looking forward to putting a piece of juicy steak in my mouth, which is on my diet plan.

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