I did something this morning I really wish I hadn't had to do: I paid someone to cut into my gum for the purpose of grafting some new bone up in there.
The deadener has not yet worn off, so no worries, yet. But worries coming, most likely - or, at least, "discomforts," as the medical literature sent home with me warns.
My oral surgeon gave me the option of listening to music on headphones while he shot, sawed into, and sewed up my gums. I gratefully accepted the option. I listened to a mockup of the Poetry Scores score to The Sydney Highrise Variations and tried really, really hard to think about architecture in Australia or the rise and collapse of modernity - anything other than you know what.
Rocked back in the padded dentist chair, I savored the last phrase of Les Murray's poem, as I always do: "modernity's strange anger." That sums up so much of what I find noxious about contemporary politics and public discourse. Right now I am even liking thinking about stuff like noxious political discourse, rather than pain, during this brief post-surgical honeymoon period when my face remains completely tricked out of feeling anything.
"Do your best work, doc," I urged my oral surgeon, as I was settling in to listen to some Les Murray set to song. "It's like, all year, there is that one time you nail it off the tee, drive it right onto the green, right where you imagined it dropping - this is that time."
"Okay," he said. Then he twinged a glinting hypodermic needle deep into the softest and among the most treasured tissue that belongs to me.
Those who know I edit a newspaper published by an oral surgeon may wonder if my doctor is my boss. He is not. I really didn't want to blur those lines (though our publisher once did me an enormous favor by performing emergency surgery on a friend of mine, pro bono - he's like that).
Those who know I am a white guy who works for a black publisher who fights constantly for African-American inclusion in public and professional life may wonder if my surgeon is black. He is. He is a Jamaican of African descent. Jamaican me worried about how weird my gums look all bone grafted and sutured, mon.
He and his wife, a Jamaican dentist of Indian descent, go home regularly to perform free dental work for the poor in a spirit of charity and public service. I just know someone that righteous could not possibly botch my gums, which I love so very much, nor would he leave me in any but the most necessary of "discomforts".
Jamaican me hopeful, mon.
And I have the usual, dubious consolation of a profoundly clumsy man: if it really, really hurts, I can blame myself. Why? Because when the doctor was almost done, he pinched my lip; I groaned; he asked if the deadener was wearing off; and I attempted to gesture, "No, mon, you just pinched my lip."
Unfortunately, my hand gesture got all tangled up in the suture thread dangling out of my mouth - and I ripped all of the sutures right out of my gums!
Didn't hurt a bit, mon. Didn't hurt a bit.
But I am afraid it will, mon - I am afraid it will.