He was standing over me. I lay there, not entirely helpless but scared out of my wits. Nervous. I’m shaking like a leaf at the mercy of a strong wind (how did this phrase go again? Y’all used it to spice up primary compositions).
He is gloved and ready. I knew I was not. He assures me it will be quick and pain-free exercise. He sounds honest. I wanted to believe him but couldn’t. Isn’t that what they always say to have their way?
He was a first timer. It was easy to tell with the clumsiness in which he handled the equipment. He was anxious yet very determined. From time to time, he rubbed his hands together as if I was his lucky jackpot.
He reaches for something and he’s about to start…I bolt.
Relax, I had to use the washroom. Only this time I was directed towards a male lavatory. I rushed past the bowls and entered an actual toilet. I breathed deeply as I finally locked the door and returned the key.
When I returned, he was not there. Had he decided to abandon my cowardly self for another? I lay down anyway to await his uncertain return. Deep breaths, deep deep breaths, hands pressing tummy, I’ll be fine.
He returns, his collegue in tow. He laughs about my unexpected dash to the toilet. Why did he tell him? How have I never been to the dentist before? He wonders. I laugh and this eases my nerves significantly.
It is only the two of us left now. He draws the curtain closed. My mouth is open. I thought they would have something to put in the mouth to make it easy staying ajar. I thought wrong.
“Don’t move. If you feel any pain raise your hand,” he instructed. I nodded.
The needle-like cleaner stirred up a fear in me but as soon as I realised it wasn’t one I became calm. A tube was sucking up my saliva and depositing it into some machine. Cleaning, sucking, cleaning, sucking. Noise.
He stopped from time to time to call his supervisor to check the progress. He was told to keep cleaning. My hand shot up. Pain. He stopped. Then I saw him preparing the needle. I screamed. With my facial expression.
“It won’t hurt, it is to numb you,” he said.
“I don’t think you understand. Even a prick on my finger tip kills me. How can you say I won’t feel anything when it comes to the gum?!” I asked horrified, without saying it. I simply nodded.
He was right. No pain. I felt a little sting the second time but that was it. I could feel my numbness as he went ahead with his work. Oh, how I wanted to screech (can’t sing) and dance at how successful the day was proving.
I had pictured I would be kicking legs and flaring arms in protest. A team of nurses trying to pin me down to get it done…Back to earth.
Out he went and this time two ladies walked in and after checking gave him the go ahead. He began doing small minor things I couldn’t see from my posture. He would pick something, put it in my mouth and repeat.
Later on he put a metallic something and I felt as it my lips were burdened with the world’s troubles. I was required to stay open and my face was fatigued. My facial muscles overworked.
I was clutching tightly to the sides of the seat. The little breaks I was taking by closing my mouth were no longer possible. The agony!
He went and returned with one of the ladies. She corrected this and that before asking him to ‘etch’. She mentioned a few other technical terms leaving me clueless. (Remember Isimu Jamii;lugha ya hospitalini)
The nurse in-charge announced she was leaving for lunch as she had dispatched everything needed. I convinced myself it was only noon. It couldn’t have taken so much time, could it?
For the finishing, the lady came to put in the filling. She asked for polish, there was none. She asked for something else which also was not there. It seemed everything had run short in dentistry!
When all was done, she directed me to a sink to wash off the particles after shaping. My feet were stiff and my body exhausted but I managed to scale the few metres.
I spit out some residue and rinsed some more. There was a bitter after taste, my lips felt sour. To my horror, I realized I couldn’t smile!
I looked in the mirror then saw it. The filling looked like the sharp edge of a canine tooth yet it is for chewing. It was conspicuous making me unable to press down my left upper jaw on the lower. Frustration.
Luckily, she saw me and asked if I was okay. I explained my predicament and we were back into the cubicle once more. She acted as if it was a big emergency making me bite onto some paper to determine the length.
By the end of it, as I was waiting for the medic to sort my file, I checked the time. 1430hours. I had entered that room at 10 something am. I am not very good at Math but that makes it 4 whole hours and some minutes.
I still don’t know why the indicators to the rooms read Minor Oral Surgery.
I hardly had a good breakfast (preparing for Ramadhan, I console myself). My schedule read 8am and with the traffic that comes with the alleged Thika Roada super highway, I knew I would never make it in time.
I stayed in waiting for an hour and forty five minutes after presenting my file. So much for keeping time. My X-rays in hand, I followed the name of the voice that called my name.
I was met by a pretty young lady who was astonished to see me.
“You are so young! With this kind of file, I expected an old old person,” she commented giggling. I joined in.
(Don’t judge me, that file dates back to the year I was born. Only doctors use it. I have never touched it.)
She had me sit on a chair where she examined me. She turned the chair to face lighting from the window and had another look. She switched on her flashlight and peeked. I was getting confused.
Her colleague walked in and she called her over.
“That is a pit(atleast this is what I heard). Keep brushing and whenever you eat something, rinse your mouth with warm salty water,” she advised.
They both agreed that no procedure was required on my right side (tooth 16) as there was no pain. I collected my X-rays and cards murmuring a forced thank you.
They should have informed me earlier!