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Animation (made with images from a CT scan) sh...

Animation (made with images from a CT scan) showing an impacted wisdom tooth in 3D. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before I go off on one of my self-involved, boring rants, I’d like to ask you people if there is a secret club of pain. No, not like Fight Club, more like, say…The Adventurers Club or Explorers Club. As in you must have experienced it to belong, etc.

Why ask such a dumb, non-sensical question? Well, I had a wisdom tooth pulled yesterday and I’d like to know why nobody told me exactly what that experience might entail! Oh sure, I was given a few scary stories, told I was going to be in great pain, told I wasn’t going to feel a thing, blah, blah, blah. But that has to be one of the most disgusting, old-fashioned (almost medieval), brutal, quick and fascinating things that has happened to me…lately.

I know, I know, here I am talking about physical ailments again! But I find it so interesting! Sure dentistry has come a long way since someone telling you to swig some whiskey and get ready to pass out after they take some pliers to your infected tooth…but in some ways, thats exactly what they are still doing!

My tooth wasn’t impacted, it just had a crack and was taking up too much space. Otherwise it would have probably lived on happily in my big mouth. I kept my eyes closed and tried to breathe deeply, relax and listen to Gilberto/Getz. The surgeon was a very laid back dude and when I made a comment on listening to Bossa Nova instead of Hawaiian music, he immediately changed his iPod to accommodate me. I know some people have true phobias about going to the dentist. I’m not sure why, other than the fear of excruciating pain. Actually the pain is more creepy than excruciating. Probably because of all those nerve endings, eh?

When I heard the loud crack and was shown this rather prehistoric tooth of mine, I burst into hysterical laughter. Why was it so funny? I don’t know…but it was. I think I giggled my way out of the office looking like a chipmunk. No, I hadn’t been given laughing gas – just a few shots of Novocaine. Perhaps I just found the whole thing so efficient and mechanical in some ways that I thought it humorous in combination with the pure gore of the thing?

At around 2:30am I wasn’t laughing too much I can tell you that.

As I wandered into the kitchen for an icepack I looked through the livingroom window – (always expecting something terrifying!) I saw what appeared to be a small puppy on the sidewalk in front of the house. I stared, rubbed my eyes, wondered if the pain killers were that strong, and looked again. The animal shape shifted into a cat, then a possum and finally as it stood up on hind legs, presented itself to me as one rather large raccoon. He looked like a dog. He looked at me and did a kind of “salute” and walked down the driveway. Maybe he was going to my studio to paint.

I heard the owl that comes back every October, thought of the large orb or garden spider that arrives every year at this time and thought that California has its own version of the change in seasons. It’s a subtle thing.

I don’t know why they are called wisdom teeth and don’t really care. By the way, I also have Morton’s Toe – where your second toe is longer than your first…which means I’m supposed to be smart…or Greek. The Statue of Liberty has it too! But with one less tooth I am closer to being a mere human, doing maintenance to stay healthy. Boring but fascinating stuff if you can look at it without criticism or cynicism.

I know this very (annoyingly) attractive (and nice) couple who just got the news that the hot wife beat cancer. I imagine she went through some pretty rough days and I wonder if she thought about her pain in an abstract way – at times; and the bravery it takes to tackle that adventure.

The body is an amazing machine. How else could Keith Richards still be alive?

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