Monday, February 13, 2006

A Vakil, his toothache and a dentist!!

A toothache is something which every one of us endures at some point in our lives. None of us, I’m sure, would call it a “pleasant” experience though. I had the pleasure (or pain!) of going through one such experience recently which was predictably followed by a visit to the dentist. At the end of it, I didn’t know what I hated most – the toothache or the dentist!!

It was a bright and sunny day, as usual, in Madras. But, alas, it wasn’t with a sunny disposition that I woke up that morning. My first exercise of stretching myself in bed didn’t really happen as I was jolted out of bed with excruciating pain in my upper jaw. A bit of probing with the tongue identified the culprit. As I gingerly placed a finger on the rogue tooth, I howled once again in pain, which almost brought the roof down and also brought my parents to the scene. After careful inspection they decided that a generous dose of clove oil would solve the trouble and accordingly set about with the “treatment”. Don’t know how many of you have had the good fortune of being doused with clove oil in the mouth, but I can assure you that it isn’t fun!!

After the home remedy proved futile, I took matters in my own hands and called up my dentist who, pretending to be very busy, gave me his last appointment at 9 pm albeit very grudgingly. I do not know if you have experienced it, but when one is in pain and is waiting to see a doctor, the hands of the clock seem to move a lot slower than they normally do. After passing the whole day with a grim face and mumbling through most of the phone calls, I reached the dentist’s clinic at half past eight in the fond hope that he would call me soon, seeing the plight that I was in. Alas, that was not to be. The previous patient, a 9 year old kid, was screaming his lungs off, while the dentist was extracting one of his teeth.

And finally, when I was called in, it was well past nine and I was almost ready to give up. I do not hold anything personally against dentists but they do seem to have this annoying habit of tapping the rogue tooth with their tools leaving us writhing in pain. They don’t seem to trust our word and just look at the tooth we point at. My dentist also proceeded on expected lines and tapped on the tooth resulting in my letting out a piercing wail. At that point in time, I could sympathise with the little kid who had sat in that chair before me. After seeing me howl and some x-rays later, the dentist rubbed his hands gleefully and gave his verdict that the tooth has to undergo root canal treatment. The gleam in his eyes showed that he was already making the calculations on his fees, shamelessly.

A root canal treatment, I can tell you, is nothing less than an endurance test!! The only things which remain etched in memory about the whole procedure is the dentist advancing menacingly with a tooth file and asking me to open my mouth wider and wider until even an elephant could have gone inside. My emotions at that point of time were the same as those of guinea pigs being subjected to a trial! After three weekly sessions in which the dentist wrestled with the tooth, it was finally rebuilt and a week later a crown was fixed over it to complete the story.

At the end of it all, one would have expected me to be relieved (despite ending up poorer by Rs.4000) but the only sensation I felt was exhaustion. After all, it’s not often that I part with such a princely sum and also suffer in the bargain. The smiling face of the dentist as I left the clinic reminded me of the old adage, “every dog has its day”!

The last thing about the whole episode that remains in memory is the dentist asking me to “bite” after fixing the crown, just to check if it was fixed properly. At that moment, I was actually ready to bite him!!