Dental Drama

It seems the older I get, the more I end up going to a doctor of some sort. My latest visit was to see the dentist. Just so you know, the dentist ranks right up there with my desire to go to the gynecologist. It’s never on the high priority list.

A few years ago, my dentist retired. He was the one I had gone to since I first grew in my teeth over 40 years ago. His office was over an hour away so I had only attempted to try out another dentist that was a little closer once before. (I had been to see him once and one night when I was watching the news, his face popped up on my TV screen. He had been arrested for murdering his girlfriend AND his wife.)

I immediately decided that the hour drive to see my old dentist was worth it.

After Dale and I got married he suggested that I go to his dentist that he has been to for HIS entire life.

I made my appointment and they advised me that since I was a new patient, they would need to run the full gamut of x-rays and tests on me…so I should be prepared to be at there for a couple of hours.

Oh yay. Something to look forward to.

I arrived for my appointment and they took me into one of the rooms. It didn’t have a door. Okay. So what if I’m screaming in pain or crying out of fear? The whole office is going to hear me slobbering like a baby. This isn’t starting out well.

The first technician comes in and says that she needs to take photos of my mouth. Ok. That’s good. I can handle photos.

Then she proceeds to shove these plastic mouth expanders in so that my lips are held wide open so you can see all of my teeth…as well as my stomach and kidneys. My lips felt like they were going to end up looking like the elastic on some old lady’s underwear – stretched way beyond their limitations.

I felt like a dog hanging out of a car window going 120 MPH down the highway. Definitely the same idea. Definitely not as much fun.

She took several photos and then said “Okay, now we are going to get some x-rays!”

She was so cheerful it sounded like we were about to go to a party!

She began to put together some plastic pieces that looked like a puzzle and I jokingly asked where those were going to fit.

“Oh, we use these now instead of those horrible little cardboard x-rays. They were so bad for you! Don’t worry. They’ll fit in your mouth. But it might be uncomfortable – for a minute.”

I opened my mouth and she somehow crammed these huge plastic pieces in place. “Now bite down.”

Uhh, what?

I can’t move my tongue. I’m having a hard time breathing. I think I’m already bleeding and you want me to bite down? I felt like I was ready to be hitched to a plow so I could go clear a field. This was not good.

Finally she was done. If I could have shot x-rays out of my eyeballs she would have been toast.

I could breathe a sigh of relief.

That was until the next technician came in.

“So, it says you have not been to the dentist in three years…” she said with a slightly disapproving tone.

“Uh, yes. I really don’t like going to the dentist,” I said.

“Well, I’ll make sure this doesn’t hurt much.”

Here we go again.

She took out a sandblaster that I’m pretty sure could remove graffiti off a concrete wall and pointed it towards my mouth. Of course, this was right after she used a meat hook to scrape any plaque off my teeth. I’m confident that with all of the scraping she did up under my gums, she got some plaque that had been there since I was in the sixth grade.

Then onto the dental floss. (I’m a religious flosser so this should have been easy-peasy.) But apparently, when you’re at the dentist, you’re supposed to push dental floss with excessive force in between your teeth just to be sure you make your gums bleed.

My gums are so swollen it looks like I’ve eaten a can of yellow jackets.

Then she sprays water into my mouth and then uses this suction thing to suck it all back up. I feel like I’m being waterboarded. Where in the heck is a sink? Can’t I just spit? The suction thing keeps getting stuck on my tongue and then my tonsils. I’m gagging.

I hate this.

Then she starts asking me questions. Now I have never understood this: Why would anyone ask you questions when they know you can’t answer without sounding like you’ve swallowed a pillow?

“I pruyus qwuiuhg wghhhek Akohuih Ilwlla suhur shia” I said. That meant “Yes, I’ve been watching American Idol too. Who do you think will win?”

My former dentist used to just hum Broadway show tunes while he was cleaning my teeth. Some “Phantom of the Opera” might really calm me down right now. She might want to try it.

The dentist comes in and looks at my chompers. He is very nice and has a really nice smile. He’s a walking billboard for going to the dentist.

He inspects all of my teeth, individually. During this time he is asking me questions. I’m sorry. I can’t answer you right now because that camera you have shoved in my mouth is dangerously close to my voice box.

“Do you drink sodas?”

My love for soda started at an early age...

My love for soda started at an early age…

“Yes but only one a day”, I said.

Tisk, tisk.

“Trust me”, I said. “You didn’t want me coming to this appointment without having caffeine first. I might have bitten you.”

He laughed but I’m pretty sure he understood that I wasn’t joking.

Overall, he said that everything looks good. I have the beginnings of cavities in my upper molars but that’s probably due just to age.

Seriously? He’s going to get on the gynecologist bandwagon and start telling me that things are falling apart because of my AGE?

That’s it. I’m not going to any more doctors until I’m eligible for a senior citizens discount.

But according to all of my doctors, that might be sooner than I think.

(Now I know that the ladies in my dentist office are probably going to read this, so please let me add the following disclaimer…I had not been to the dentist in three years so I’m sure you had your work cut out for you. After reading this, please remember that MOST of this was in jest, so please do not take it out on me at my next visit. haha)

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Time Marches On

My husband gets so tired of me correcting him when he says how old I am. Yes, I will be 45 years old this year…but I’m not there yet. I’m 44! So don’t say that I’m 45!!

I always joke with him because HE IS 45. I think he just wants to not feel older than I am especially since he is already getting AARP literature in the mail or it could be that when he doesn’t shave his beard he starts to look like Wolverine from x-Men because it’s turning gray.

It’s never seemed to bother him much, however, yesterday afternoon I think he finally understood my frustration with getting older.

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter

We were in the car heading down to see my parents for the afternoon. I was driving, and Dale was in the passenger seat working on his laptop. Since my dad has been going through chemotherapy, his taste buds have become a little skewed and so we decided to stop at the Varsity and pick up some of their famous “Frosted Orange” drinks. He loves them and they are strong enough for him to taste so I love surprising him with them.

We pulled up to the Varsity and waited in line. When I ordered the drinks through the intercom, I asked the lady taking my order not to fill up the cups to the top. I just wanted them filled up enough so when she put the lid on them, it didn’t squirt out the top of the cup.

Dale just looked at me and said “You sound like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’. You know how she ordered her food and had a zillion conditions to go with it – “I’ll have the Caesar salad but I don’t want croutons, and I want the dressing on the side”. The lady taking your order is going to think you are a nut.”

So I decided to explain myself to her when we drove up to the window.

“I’m so sorry for being so picky. My dad loves these, and since he is going through chemotherapy, we have to be really careful about not letting anything touch his food, so I didn’t want the cup filled up because I didn’t want it to squish out on your hand when you put on the top.”

She did look at me like I was a nut.

But then she smiled, leaned out the window, looked at Dale and said “Is that your father?”
I choked on my diet coke and some of it ran out of my nose.

Dale leaned over and looked at her, smiled and said, “Uhhhh no. I’m her HUSBAND.”

I couldn’t stop giggling.

She never missed a beat. “What kind of cancer does your dad have? Is he being treated here? I had breast cancer and beat it. I hated chemotherapy. I lost my sense of taste too. And I lost my hair. I’ll say a prayer for him”, she said.

I then thanked her and we drove off.

I giggled some more.

“Doesn’t it stink for someone to think you’re older than you really are?” I asked. I think at that point he understood why I never want to be labeled older than I actually am.

Dale just growled at me.

I remember a quote from “Steel Magnolias” where Dolly Parton said “Time marches on, and sooner or later you realize it’s marching right across your face.”

Yep. Getting older really stinks.

Especially when someone thinks you are your wife’s dad.

The Big C

I am missing a big chunk of my leg this week. No, I didn’t get bitten by a shark or attacked by some criminal with a knife.

I saw my dermatologist.

As many of you know, going to the doctor in general isn’t one of my favorite things to do. It seems like whenever I go to a doctor I end up with something smashed, something violated, or something involving needles or x–rays.

I do not like going to the doctor. I cringe when I hear “This will only hurt for a little bit.”

Seriously?

I don’t want anything to hurt. Ever. Not even for a little bit.

I’ve discovered with age that I seem to be allergic to pain.

Years ago I had a zit on my nose that wouldn’t go away. The more I tried covering it up with makeup, the more it seemed to say “Look at me – I’m not going away!!!”

After about a month of mashing it, I decided to go to the doctor.

He was 150 years old and had glasses so thick that it made his eyeballs look freakishly enormous.

“Hmmmm,” He said. “I think we need to take this off. It’s not a zit. Looks like skin cancer.”

Uhhh, what?

I was only 24 years old. Okay, YES, I had used baby oil and iodine at times to get a tan, and YES, I had gone to the tanning bed when I was younger, but skin cancer? Don’t only old people get skin cancer?

He numbed my nose with a needle that was the size of a railroad tie and felt like it was coming out the back of my head. Then he performed what is called “Mohs” surgery, where they scrape a layer of skin off and then check it for cancer cells. They repeat the process until all of the cancer cells are gone and they have hit clean skin.

He scraped, and scraped, and scraped, and I was afraid I was going to end up with a third nostril.

Finally it was over and there was nothing more that needed to be done. Turns out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma, which wasn’t deadly, but it meant I would need checkups from that point on.

Fast forward 15 years. I’ll admit I became a little lax about going to the dermatologist EVERY year. Who has time for that? My life was too busy.

Then my father was diagnosed with cancer and that changed my thinking.

So I scheduled an appointment with a new dermatologist, this time with someone other than Dr. Kevorkian.

Dr. T is 5’ tall and weighs less than a fifth grader, but she is super sweet and incredibly smart.

She looked me all over and I mean ALL OVER and said “The only thing I’m concerned about is this little mark on your leg.”

“It’s been there for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was a freckle,” I said.

“It’s never changed?”

“No.”

“Well, if it were ME, I’d recommend getting it removed. Since you’re not having any problems with it, it won’t be covered under insurance (of course not!) and will be considered an elective excision but I’d do it if I were you.”

Elective excision? That’s me ASKING to be stuck with needles and cut on?

Hmmm. I’m gonna have to think about that.

So my husband and I talked about it and he said that we’d better be safe than sorry so we scheduled it on the calendar.

The day of the excision, I took a Xanax because as I stated earlier, I am allergic to needles. I also doubled up on my blood pressure medicine. Okay, okay. I might have doubled up on my Xanax also.

She circled the spot on my leg, which was about the size of my pinkie fingernail. The circle, however, was about the size of a golf ball.

Then she pulled out a needle.

“This is only going to hurt for a second.”

Shut. Up.

It did only hurt for a second. But then she stuck it in again, and it hurt for another second. And as she stuck me with the needle ALL THE WAY AROUND THE CIRCLE – about 25 times and I felt it EACH TIME. So for me, that “only hurt for a second” actually lasted over 25 seconds. Just a second. Yeah right.

I couldn’t watch. I stared and focused on Dale and squeezed the blood out of his hand.

Finally it was over. I went home and went to sleep.

Two days later I was allowed to remove the bandages and finally got a good look at it.

Holy cow. When I said golf ball size, I didn’t realize I meant golf ball size deep too. It looked like Hannibal Lector had taken some of my leg for a skin suit.

And the stitches? Clearly, my doctor has never studied plastic surgery. Was she blindfolded when she stitched me up?

My leg looked like Frankenstein’s neck.photo(10)

However…

My irritation quickly dissipated when she called to say that she had “good news and bad news,” which is something you NEVER want to hear from your doctor. (“The good news is we were able to perform your lobotomy. The bad news is that you were in here for an ingrown toenail.”)

For me, the good news was that she got it all.

The bad news? It was Melanoma.

Oh. Dear. God.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified of a doctor in my whole life. Not even with one brandishing a needle at me.

Melanoma? No, it’s not a country in Europe.

Wow. All of those days out in the sun with no sunscreen on had finally caught up with me.

But I got lucky. God answered my hysterical prayers and my promises to feed the children in Calcutta, never miss church on Sunday again, and correct all my wrongdoings if He would let me be okay.

And even though it’s 37 degrees outside, I am heading to the drugstore shortly to buy sunscreen, which I will probably start bathing in.

Just to be safe.

(Friends, if you have not had your skin checked recently, please, PLEASE do so. Did you know that Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer but is one of the easiest to treat if caught early? And even though I write blogs to talk about these things and try to be funny about it, please do not ever skip seeing your doctor. One rough day isn’t worth the consequence of not going.)

Marriage Medicine: Laughing With Your Spouse

One of the things that I love about my husband, Dale, is that he makes me laugh.

Just a giggle at times. All out belly laughing with tears streaming out of my eyes at other times.

He not only makes me laugh with funny things that he says. He has an incredibly quick wit that always keeps me on my toes. Sometimes we will be listening to a song on the radio and he will start singing lyrics that the songwriter clearly did not plan on being in their song.

There is a song by Bruno Mars called “Grenade” which has the lyrics “I’d step in front of a blade for you.” However, my husband will change the lyrics and instead, sing “I’d sip lemonade for you” or “I’d march in a parade for you” or “I’d wear a beret for you.”

Something that makes absolutely no sense with the rest of the song.

But something that makes me laugh uncontrollably.

And then there’s the dancing. When Dale starts dancing I will giggle for the rest of the day thinking about it.

There’s not a song in the world, or a reason for that matter, that he won’t start dancing to. There’s the “I’m-done-with-work-for-the-day” dance, and the “Hey-is-dinner-ready?” dance. My favorite is his “Super Productive” line of dances – when he’s gotten a lot of work done. They vary from day to day, but here’s how they go…

His dances always crack me up because it’s usually a cross between someone doing the robot and someone roller skating back in 1974. He’s definitely got some groove.

My point is, you have to have fun with your spouse. You have to be able to laugh together, about each other and about other things.

Which brings me to one of my favorite pictures. We were on our honeymoon and were on our way to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I had been driving but started getting a little drowsy so I asked Dale to switch places with me.

He’s 6’2”. I’m 5’2” so I had the drivers seat as close to the steering wheel as I could get.

And this is what happened when he got in the seat to drive.photo(59)

My dearest friend saw the photo after we returned home.

“How did you even get a girl like Dana?” she said.

We laughed, because Dale got a girl like me, for the same reason that he got a girl that makes a face like this:
photo(8)
And we still laugh about it.

Things You Should Never Say To Your Wife

God has blessed me with an amazing and loving husband. He takes care of me and the kids and makes sure the bills are paid each month. He not only is okay with, but encouraged me to be a stay-at-home mom so that I could also focus on my writing. And most importantly, he loves me with all of his heart.
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But there are, on occasion, times when I want to donkey punch him in the head.

For instance, there was the time when we were getting ready to go out to dinner with my family. I had been taking a new medication that caused me to retain water and put on a few pounds. Plus, I’m sure those Pop-Tarts that I love hadn’t helped.

I know, I know…this is VERY dangerous territory for a man, but here’s how it went down:

Me: Honey, does this look okay? I feel like it’s a little too tight.
Dale: No. It looks fine.
Me: Be honest.
Dale: Well, you do look a little “puffy”.

PUFFY? As in the Marshmallow Man? Who calls their wife puffy?? (I’m sure that many of you men are thinking “Oh, you poor man. You are gonna DIE now.”)

He didn’t get any nookie for at least a week after that one.

Many months later, we were in the midst of an argument when I complained that he didn’t listen to anything I said, to which he replied “That’s not true! I listen to all of the things that you say…(dramatic pause here) that are important.”

HUH?

I don’t care if I’m talking about the lint in the dryer, or the kitchen scrub brush, or the zit on my forehead that looks like a permanent Bindi. It’s ALLLLLLL important, baby.

I got a big bouquet of flowers after that one.

Then, this morning I was sitting at the kitchen table while Dale was eating breakfast. We were going over our “to-do” list for the day.

I mentioned that I needed to go get my driver’s license changed to show our new address since we recently moved. I’ve been sick all week and this was the first chance I’ve had to go to the DMV.

Dale: Are you going to get your picture made today?
Me: I don’t know. They might say I need a new picture.
Dale: Are you sure you want to get a new picture made today?
Me: What? I look crappy in my sweatpants with no makeup, bloodshot eyes, runny nose and the zit on my forehead?

Dale: (Replying quickly) I didn’t say that.

I’m expecting dinner and a movie tonight.