After viewing my x-ray, the assistant confirmed that I had an abscess. I described my radiating pain, and she said that was common in cases like this. It would definitely have to come out, if I was willing.
"Just get rid of the pain," I said.
The assistant bustled around, setting up the equipment and gathering the supplies the doctor would need. In the midst of her activity, she paused for a moment and put her hand on my shoulder.
"You realize, I'm not actually saying the tooth has to come out." Hadn't she said that? "The doctor will have to make the final call on that. But I've worked with him long enough that I pretty much know what he's going to say, so I'm going ahead and getting things ready."
Seemed efficient to me. The sooner this got started the sooner it would be over with. I let the assistant work and watched the FOX news channel playing on the monitor until the dentist came in. He introduced himself and then listened as the assistant told him of my complaint. He examined the x-ray and agreed the tooth had to come out. If I was willing?
"Do what you've got to do to get rid of the pain," I repeated. After all the examining, my left jaw and cheek were throbbing. I almost looked forward to the novocain.
"Has that thing been keeping you awake at night?" He reached for the topical numbing cream.
"I can't sleep on that side," I answered as I opened my mouth. Before I knew what he was doing, he swabbed the topical ointment between my cheek and gum and began shooting novocain into the side of my mouth. The right side of my mouth. I couldn't figure why he was doing that, but I still wasn't quick enough to say anything. I guess I've just been taught that it's not polite to speak when someone else has their hand in your mouth. When the dentist finished emptying the VERY LARGE novocain syringe, he patted my shoulder.
"Are you okay?"
"Sure," I mumbled, the numbness already creeping over my jaw. "But I have a question. Why are you numbing the right side of my mouth, when the tooth that needs to be pulled is on the left side?"
The dentist and his assistant stared at me. Then they stared at each other. Then they both turned and looked at the x-ray on the monitor. I had the sudden sinking feeling that this wasn't going to be a piece of cake after all.