The dentist had numbed the wrong side. How could something like this happen? He explained that they used to view x-rays from the inside out--as if you were inside the patient's mouth. Now, with the digital x-rays, they were viewed from the outside in. He'd gotten confused. I looked again at the monitor. It was clearly from the inside out. Even a non-medical type person like myself could see that. I found out later that the assistant had flipped the image on the screen so that it was from the inside out. I guess she knew what the doctor was used to and was trying to help. Is there such a thing as being too efficient?
In the meantime, the doctor apologized and mumbled something about wishing I'd said something before he used the novocain. He told the assistant to knock $20 off my bill and proceeded to refill the syringe. I personally felt that the mistake caused me more than $20 worth of inconvience, but I wasn't in a position to say anything as he numbed the other side of my mouth. Panic welled up as the novocain crept across my entire tongue. It also numbed my jaw and started to creep down my throat. Would I still be able to swallow? By focusing intently I was able to get my swallowing reflex working. Although I must say, at that point it probably would have been easier to simply drool. My entire mouth was numb. I had no feeling below my nose.
While they were waiting for the novocain to take affect, the dentist disappeared. The assistant, however, bustled around the room. She examined my partial (or nesbit, if you will), clearly enthralled with obsolete technology. Then she sat down and watched the TV with me.
The strangest part of that whole time was, the assistant never quit talking. She kept up a steady stream of conversation, complete with questions. Questions that could not be answered with a nod or shake of my head. I wasn't really in a talking mood anyway, but did she not realize how incapacitated I was? She actually waited for my answers, and it seemed rude to ignore her so I tried to oblige. I slurred and mumbled my way through answers I couldn't even understand. And then she actually asked me to repeat myself. At one point she put her hand on my shoulder and said she wanted to explain something about the dentist. When he had to do an extraction he liked to get in, get it done and get out. She said it as if warning me. I stared back blankly before mumbling, "That's fine. I really don't want to take any longer than necessary." I had to repeat myself so she could understand me. Then she explained that he was so quick, some patients took it to mean that he wasn't being careful enough. In actuality, he's done so many that he can just get in and get it. It's because he was so experienced. All that sounded good, but I wasn't sure why she felt the need to explain it to me. It made me nervous.
I was relieved when the dentist returned. At least, I was relieved until he also started asking questions that required more than yes or no answers. And he also asked me to repeat myself. Was this some sort of sick joke? Some weird, twisted dental humor? Was I on candid camera?
As the dentist prepared to begin work, he explained that I would feel some pulling and some pressure, but absolutely no pain. "If you feel any pain at all," he instructed me, "I want you to raise your hand."
Raise my hand? How about smacking someone in the side of the head? I tensed as he began working on the tooth. After a few moments he said, "And now you should feel some really strong pressure."
He was right. I felt tremendous pressure. And something else. I waved my hand frantically.