Wednesday, September 27, 2006

There is Nothing Funny About a Root Canal

Guess who had a root canal today. Go on, guess.

Already, I am tired of this game. It was I, Storchy, who had a root canal today. Probably lots of other folks had root canals today, too, but I don’t care about any of those bozos. This installment is about me and my root canal, and if any of you chuckleheads out there want to cry like whiny little sissy-babies about your root canals, you can go and get your own goddamn blog. Now, get outta here. Go on, beat it.

Due to my keenly developed ability to maintain my composure under even the most trying of circumstances, you probably haven’t noticed that today’s ordeal has made me a bit peevish. Though my time in the chair today was not the reenactment of Marathon Man's dental torture scene that I imagined it would be, neither was it the equivalent of an herbal facial. Unless herbal facials involve needles, and drills, and unpleasant grinding noises. Which they well might. As I have never had an herbal facial, I probably wouldn’t know one if it poked me in the eye. Eye-poking, come to think of it, might well be an integral part of the herbal facial and I wouldn’t know it. Really, the whole herbal facial thing was a just crappy analogy, and I wish you’d all just stop harping on it. I have never claimed to be an expert in flowery wordsmithery, nor am I a clown for your amusement.

While the peevishness dissipates even as I type, I feel that today’s root canal experience has permanently and drastically altered my worldview in countless ways, not the least of which include the following:

1. I would NOT rather get a root canal than sit through the Broadway musical, Cats.

2. I would NOT rather get a root canal than listen to a Joan Baez record.

3. I would NOT rather get a root canal than watch an episode of Third Rock.

4. A root canal is NOT more pleasant than a poison ivy rash on my ass.

5. A root canal is NOT more fun or interesting than Statistics 151.

My shifts of position on some other matters were not as extreme. For instance, I used to think that having a root canal would be far more pleasant than listening to small children singing or playing wind instruments. Now feel that it’s six of one, and a half-dozen of the other.

Much to my surprise, there was relatively little pain involved in the root canal process. They shoot you up full of Novacaine so all you feel is a fat numbness in your face that makes you wonder idly whether you’d have a chance at being cast as Joseph Merrick in The Elephant Man.

What gets you is the noise.


The dentistry noises suck ass. I tried all manner of tricks to block them out. Initially I attempted to focus on Dr. Furst’s humming. He has a nice little hum. He started by humming When the Saints Go Marching In. That was swell. Then he began humming Speak Softly Love (the Theme From The Godfather). This, I found disturbing. Later, as he got more into his work, he started combining the two songs into one, which was both disturbing and confusing and left me focusing on the familiar drill noise for comfort. This would not do.

So, as the drilling progressed, I retreated into my head. I searched for a comfort song. Unfortunately, the first one I thought of was The House of Love, a song by Squeeze, which features an electric carving knife sound effect between verses. You’d be surprised by how much an electric carving knife can sound like a dentist drill under the right circumstances.

After considering and rejecting several songs by the rocque-and-rolle noblemen, The Upper Crust, I settled on Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Taxi. It’s an innocuous song just pleasant enough to be distracting, while allowing the dental tool noises to work with it, rather than against it, in the background. Once I’d settled into Tijuana Taxi, my toes were a-tappin’ while my fists were a-clenchin’.

Still, I feel strongly that the dental tool noise issue is one in serious need of attention. I know that all sorts of dentists out there are putting headphones on their patients in effort to drown out the drill noises with music. I actually tried this once, and found it quite stressful. I fretted that the dentist would say something like, “Whatever you do, don’t swallow right now,” but then I wouldn’t hear him because I was getting down to Loose Booty by Funkadelic, and I’d end up with one of those bendy mirrors and a latex glove in my gullet.

If it were up to me (which it seldom is for reasons that I cannot fathom), I’d change the noises that the tools themselves make. And I’m not talking about wimpy little tweaks, such as making their foul noises quieter. What I have in mind is something more along the lines of a Total Noise Overhaul.

I came up with the concept of the Total Noise Overhaul right after I’d realized that I could calculate the square footage of the root canal room by counting the 2-foot ceiling tiles and doing a little multiplication. The size of the room is neither here nor there, but I was just proud that I’d found an unexpected practical application for math.

After I’d determined that the root canal room measured 110 square feet, I thought of an idea that would revolutionize modern dentistry. I mean, what if root canals could be funny?

I started trying to think of things that make me laugh. You know what makes me laugh? People getting hit on the head with a plank. That’s a friggin’ laugh-riot. But I dismissed this idea once I realized that a few folks might associate pain with getting hit on the head, and associate that pain with dentistry, which would be bad. I am not a sadistic monster, after all.

Back to the drawing board. After a bit more ruminating, I said to myself, “Self? You know what else is funny? Farts are funny.”

It’s true. Farts are like the comedy Esperanto of bodily functions. I’ve seen enough foreign films to know that everyone in the whole world thinks that farts are HI-larious. In fact, it would not surprise me if Mel Gibson were to switch it up with a comedy next time that was done all in Fart, with subtitles.

So, that would be one option. Instead of the dental drill going, “ZZZZzzzzZZZZZTTT! SQWEEEEEEEEEEEE! SCRONCH! SCRT! SCRT! SCRT! VVVVZZZZZRRRrrrREET!” it could instead make rude fart noises. This would help patients to keep their mouths open wide, what with the laughing and all. It would also discourage them from swallowing at inappropriate times, thereby preventing the ingestion of bendy mirrors and latex gloves. That idea is a keeper.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have another idea that I think is absolutely brilliant. Instead of trying to mask the foul drill noise with music played through headphones, why not design a drill that makes a pleasing musical sound as it’s working? After much consideration, I’ve decided that the instrumental intro to Georgy Girl, by The Seekers, would be ideal for this purpose. I mean, who could possibly be annoyed by the sound of those first few, perky measures being played over and over and over again as their teeth were getting bored out? No one that I can think of. Certainly not I.

Well, there you have it. I, Storchy, went to the dentist and took one for the team. But I did not sit passively in the chair while a complete stranger drilled holes in my head. Instead, I made the most of my time, devising a plan that will make the world a better place for Everyman. I encourage all of you potential root canal candidates out there to do the same, because nobody likes a whiny little sissy-baby.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about the root canal.
In honor of your discomfort, I have one to add:

I would NOT rather get a root canal than get hit in the face by a speeding volleyball.

From your Swisher Sweets Pal

extrastorchy said...

Hey, I know you. . .

Dave Pasternak said...

Well, I was going to sympathetically whine about my root canal but you scared me off of that idea...

Another distraction besides calculating square footage -count the little holes in the ceiling tiles - don't all dentists have those same ceiling tiles?

And not only the noise - the smell when they drill into the tooth - I hate that.

Word to the wise for future root canals - don't go have lunch with your spouse right afterwards. I did and bit my lip. My novacaine addled mind didn't process the fact that my lip was swelling up to the size and shape of a large marble. I didn't realize anything was amiss until I returned to work - when I walked down the hall, grown men screamed and ran in the opposite direction (no, that's NOT the normal reaction.)

Wait, am I whining? Sorry! But you have my sympathies.

anaglyph said...

If the drill starts playing Georgy Girl I'm killing my dentist.

I guess you'd stop noticing any nerve pain though.

Trixie said...

Oh no, anyone going through a root canal must hear stories about other people's root canals. That's one of the rules.

That being said, I don't remember much about my root canal. Of course I was only 15 and they barely invented root canals then. The only thing I remember is having to take antibiotics every day during geometry class and my teacher having fits cause I excused myself every day to get some water. Actually, he really understood that he was the worst teacher in the world and I had a root canal just so I could get out of his class for a few precious minutes....

Dammit, now I have Georgy Girl in my head!!!

extrastorchy said...

Dave P, it's funny that you should mention the smell. I used to live with a luthier, and sometimes he'd be grinding this guitar saddle out of bone and the whole house would just reek of this horrible stink. Not so surprisingly, it's the same stink you notice when you're having your teeth drilled.

extrastorchy said...

Trixie. Dude. There are rules? Man, I had no idea. If the first rule about root canals is that you do not talk about root canals, I am totally hosed.

evenstar said...

Georgy Girl! Talk about shock and awe...

You're right. It'd work - but I think my reaction would be the same as anaglyph's.

How about that old "popcorn" synthesiser thingy instead?


savannah dentists said...

Extrastorchy, that was quite an experience!

My brother also had a root canal surgery last week when he visited his Savannah dentist. He does not have a high threshold for pain, so the dentist suggested the utilization of trace amounts of 'laughing gas'. Fortunately, that did the trick for him.

Hope you would have a positive experience in the future.