Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Son, be a de-entist..."

Many, many years ago I spent a summer visiting my dentist, having made an initial appointment about a month in advance. Every Wednesday, my day off, I would bus or walk into Fairview and usually walk home afterwards. His waiting room would have maybe one other person there, usually waiting for the patient he was with rather than the dentist. I'd be brought into the room quickly and then the ordeal began.

He was a severe, older man, probably nearing retirement and he did everything slowly, deliberately. The anasthetic would take an age to work and then he'd prod, push and drill into my poor teeth. At times I thought he was drilling directly into my brain. One root canal took about four weeks and three temporary fills. I don't know how long each session was but it felt like about three years.

On Tuesday I rang the dentist to make an appointment for myself and the Handyman. It took three repeats for the girl to catch either name. Somehow when people hear 'Catherine' it throws them, and they lose it completely when it's followed by a Turkish surname. Anyway eventually she says 'We're very busy. Come whenever you like.' This time I had to ask her to repeat what she said. It may sound like an oxymoron but it neatly sums up the Turkish Way of Doing Things.

So we arrived that afternoon to a cramped waiting room, filled completely. You could tell by the blank stares directed at the Chinese historical soap opera on the television that they'd been waiting for a long time. Again the girl took several repeats to figure out that I had called and what our names were.

After waiting about an hour we were called in. When we first went to this dentist many years ago he'd newly set up the practice and was young, enthusiastic and chatty. Now his eyes were sunken in great grey hollows, his hair had receded to his collar and his feeble attempt at welcoming us was grim. You would swear he had spent years only exposed to misery, pain and strife, forced to witness the most horrific sights, the most gruesome rot and terrible decay.

Within two minutes of sitting in the chair he'd X-ray'ed and numbed my jaw. What followed was a quick succession of drilling and cleaning with a variety of implements. He began filling the cavity at once, filling, moulding and hardening with a neat UV light several times before declaring that I could now chew with abandon. It was all over in about ten minutes and the most painful part was that the suction stuck to the inside of my cheek for the length of it.

Sometimes the Turkish Way is the way to go!

1 comment: