Monday, March 31, 2014
As a general rule, I am not what you would call a "deep thinker."
I can't wax poetic about philosophy. I'm not the sort who willingly enters into theological debate. The way I see it, there are some folks out there equipped to handle complex intellectual discussions about the meaning of life, and then there's those of us better suited to tell you what happened on this week's episode of "Pretty Little Liars." I know my place.
That said, a funny thing happened yesterday. I think I just accidentally disproved the theory of evolution. Whoopsie-daisy.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the argument goes something like this: Once upon a time, there was nothing -- and then it exploded. Out of this big bang spewed the basic building blocks of life. Survival of the fittest meant that one-celled organisms eventually gave way to two-celled organisms. Thanks to nature's ability to adapt, we kept on evolving until we grew some legs, crawled out of the muck, and asked for directions to the nearest Arby's.
By this theory, each surviving new generation of us should be a slightly better model than the previous. My genetic line has gone from Shane 95 to Shane 98 to Shane XP to Shane Vista and now I reckon I'm a beta release of Shane 8. Except that it's all a clear load of hooey, and I just figured out why:
Teeth are not evolved. Teeth are not future tech. Teeth are stupid. They're of inferior design, poor planning, substandard materials, and notorious unreliability. This is evolution? Teeth suck. And I should know -- I just had to have one pulled.
The tingle started last week. Within 24 hours, I was completely mental and quite literally driving around town looking for ANY dentist who would see me. When I finally got in, the verdict was swift and brutal: My upper molar, good ol' tooth #15, was being attacked by cavities on both sides. Too late for a filling, too late for a root canal. It had to go, and I walked out with a whole lot of pain pills and an appointment with the oral surgeon.
Now we're getting to the heart of why teeth are just stupid, awful parts of our biology. Surgeons are highly skilled professionals tasked with cutting you open and fixing your innards using the most sophisticated scientific equipment at hand. In the case of oral surgeons and tooth extractions, this equipment often consists of a pair of pliers. Okay, I bet they're sophisticated scientific pliers, but pliers nonetheless.
There are approximately 2.8 kajillion things I would rather do than get a tooth pulled. I don't care how nice and wonderful your dentist is, you're still allowing a near-stranger to grab hold of the hardest part of your body and forcibly rip it out of your head, oftentimes while you're wide awake with a front row seat. I don't think bad of you, oral surgeons of the world. On behalf of all of us with bad teeth, we're super grateful you're around. But it doesn't change the fact that you're basically the tooth fairy as written by Stephen King.
As I sat there in the big red chair waiting for the inevitable torture, I noticed a sign on the wall prominently prohibiting recording devices in the room. If you're the sort of person who wants to record an experience like this as a precious memento to be cherished for all time, you have FAR more problems than a cavity, friend.
Eventually, the door opened and it was showtime. But a weird thing happened. It was... EASY. Pleasant, almost. The oral surgeon was amazing. She was kind and patient and talked me through everything. She knew just the right angles to hold stuff so that I couldn't see any needles or pliers or rogue teeth flying out of my head. It was 100% painless, no joke. Just some pressure and some noise. I'm not saying it's an experience I yearn to repeat, but the whole thing took about five minutes and was nothing I couldn't handle.
"I kinda wanna hug you," I told the doc through a gauze-filled mouth when it was over.
"No need," she replied. "Just don't write about me."
A deal's a deal, so I will NOT mention that Dr. Susan Rector is my new hero or that the staff of Mississippi Valley Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery P.C. of Davenport now has my dental business for life. (Thanks again, doc.)
My favorite part of the whole experience, though, was clearly the myriad of warnings and post-procedure care that followed the terrifying bit. For instance: One doctor, two nurses, and a typed sheet of paper all warned me not to eat any potato chips immediately following the extraction. Is this a common problem? I would really, really like to meet the person who has a tooth pulled and immediately reaches for the Pringles. "I know I have dry socket now, Doc, but once I popped, I just couldn't stop!"
The post-op instruction sheet I was given obviously had warnings for folks who elected sedation over local anaesthesia, and my favorite was THIS line: "Do not make any important decisions. You may change your mind tomorrow." I called my parents and told them the procedure had gone smooth and that I had immediately celebrated by getting a face tattoo and joining the Army.
I made it through okay. The same can't be said for my sad, ugly, stupid molar. For such an important part of our body, teeth sure seem vulnerable. Some come in crooked, others don't come in at all. Some rot away, some get impacted, some hurt like a pain you can't even describe, and the only way to properly care for them involves routine unpleasantries and medical procedures that are nothing less than medieval.
And this is evolution? No way. By now, we should be continually growing teeth. Have a cavity? No worries, your body should sense the bad tooth and just let it painlessly fall out and be replaced by another. If fingernails can do it, why not teeth? Mother Nature and I need to have a chat.
Like I said, I'm not much for deep thought -- especially while I'm still on pain pills. All I know is that I could sure go for some potato chips.