I would dare to say my transition from 2017 to 2018 was very painful. Not because I sat home watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Not because I actually cried at the end of Romance at Reindeer Lodge when the reindeer showed up, under a full moon, with a gently snow falling, while the pair of “we-meet-five-days-ago-and-hated-each-other” lovers kissed. No it was painful because I had a toothache. This whole ordeal began on December 28th when my tooth hurt so bad I had to make an emergency appointment to see my dentist, Dr. Sam Sticka. I was trying to remember when the last time I had a toothache and I came up with…NEVER! Certainly I would not have forgotten such pain. However, I did somehow forget that I had a tooth with a crown on it because that was the one throbbing. Dr. Sticka was very kind and very apologetic about having to tell me that an ordinary x-ray didn’t show anything. He diagnosis was that the tooth under the crown was probably infected, maybe cracked and the nerves were dead. These three things equal a root canal that can be done at a specialist in Bismarck. He assured me that the referral would be sent immediately so I could get in a soon as possible. Also he suggested I start antibiotic to start clearing up any infection. Dr. Sticka went on to explain that Custom Endodontics would be able to do a 3-D imaging of the tooth and then know what is actually going on under the drown. Pain was going on under the crown….that much I knew. Wait, can’t a person download a 3-D imaging app onto your phone for $2.99? But I suppose getting my 3” x6” phone into the back of m =y mouth without gagging may be a problem.
As usual my timing was perfect. Toothache on Thursday, dental offices closed on Friday, Saturday/Sunday weekend plus New Years Day on Monday. I couldn’t even call to make an appointment until Tuesday morning. At this point of the story I decided to do a “choose your own adventure” option. A) I either spent 5 miserable days in constant pain 24/7 or B)I had some really great Opioids that worked very well the next day. You choose.
To my surprise when I called on Tuesday they had an opening the very next day. I would be more than happy to drive 100 miles to Bismarck to get this 3-D imaging/Root Canal done and over with ASSP. I asked the receptionist if I would be okay to drive home by myself. She assured me that after a couple hours of numbness I would be just fine. She also informed me that I could fill out all the paperwork on-line and submit it to their office that afternoon. Then when I came in the next day they could get my digital signature. In hindsight I wish I would have asked why my real signature wouldn’t be better. Whatever…..minor detail. I then asked where they were located and she said that they were right next to the MacDonald’s on Main Avenue. Perfect, now I knew exactly where I was going. She did however make a special point to tell me that they share a parking lot with MacDonald’s and therefore I would need to park specifically in one of their marked sports. Again, I wanted to ask if I went to MacDonald’s first and then walked over to the building would the MacDonald’s parking lot police tow my car. Another minor detail, I guess.
The next day I arrived promptly at 10:30 for my appointment. I happily swung into a Custom Endodontics parking spot close to the door. I took this as a good sign. Except when I actually bother to read the sign I was actually a parking spot for the law firm that shared the building. Since I was afraid I might get sued, I had to get back into the car, start it and move it to a clearly marked Custom Endodontics parking spot not quite so close to the door. To be perfectly honest, I was a nervous wreck walking into that building. The nerves in my tooth underneath my crown may be dead but all the rest of my nerves were on high alert. I didn’t help that when I opened the door the first thing I hear was that annoying whirring of a dental drill. The receptionist had given me an estimate for a root canal. For what she quoted me I would have for sure thought that they could have some soothing music piped in to calm the nerves. I just happened to get the receptionist that did not speak a single decibel above the dentist’s drill. I finally understood her to say she would check me in, tell the girls I was there, and get my digital signature. So there I stood and there she sat looking at me with the expression on her face that said, “Why are you still standing there?” In my confusion as to how she was going to go about getting my digital signature I did find out I could go and sit down (and start waiting.) I really didn’t wait too long before the receptionist came over to me with a mini ipad and to please sign my name. There I sat looking up at her holding just a mini ipad and there she stood looking down at me wondering what I was waiting for. She must have realized that I didn’t know what to do because she asked if I wanted a stylus. My confusion only got worse as the first thoughts that raced though my head where how bad my hair must look. Then I realized that she was offering me a computer pen and I answered, “Yes Pease.” WRONG! She brought me the smallest, stubbiest, flexi-rubber topped stylus on the planet. I couldn’t hold the stupid thing in my hand like a pen. It didn’t have any kind of a tip except this malleable rubber that I squished into the screen. I smashed the rubber tip numerous times into the signature box only to get nothing. The signature box remained completely blank while I tried in vain to sign my name. I got absolutely nothing, not even one squiggly line. The receptionist was trying to help me along by giving me directions like” hold the stylus straighter,” “don’t push down so hard,” and “lift your hand so it doesn’t rest on the screen.” After much frustration and embarrassment I finally got most of my signature scribbled on the screen. I was relieved but I also hoped to God this is not my official digital signature for the rest of my life.
The dental technician that took me back to the 3-D imaging area was named Baili. She was extremely nice and made a point to explain what was going on and answer all my questions. However, when I asked what the 3-D imaging showed she said it didn’t show anything. When I asked about infection, cracks, and dead nerves she said that the Doctor wouldn’t be able to tell until he got into the tooth. Yup I could already see that the 3-D imaging was well worth the $100. I did ask Bailie, why I had so much pain if my nerves were dead and isn’t that an oxymoron? But by now I knew the drill (pun intended) …..”we won’t know until the Doctor gets inside your tooth.” All I really want to say about the actual root canal was that Dr. Wayment was an expert. He knew exactly what he was doing inside that tooth. I mostly kept my eyes closed but I got the distinct impression he was deciding something every 15 seconds and Bailie was right there with the right piece of apparatus. I really was impressed. Those two worked together efficiently and effectively. I think I did open my eyes about three times. The first time was to see the 3rd gigantic syringe of Novacane go into my mouth. The second time I opened my eyes I saw smoke coming out of my mouth like there was some sort of soldering going in there. The third time they were shining a alien glowing green light into my mouth and studying fluorescent dancing images on the screen. In the end, the tooth was saved and I survived the root canal. As I left Custom Endodontics, Bailie gave me a sheet of information as to what to expect after the Endodontic treatment. She also advised me to take some Aleve before the Novacane wears off. (What she didn’t mention was that it would wear off by the New Salem exit.) She also handed me a prescription for Opioids and said with a smile, “Now if you don’t need these be sure not to fill the prescription and shred it. I took the prescription from her, turned to leave, and mumbled (I was only capable of mumbling at this point)…. Bite me!