Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wisdom Teeth in the United States of Stupid

When you have a serious toothache, never ever touch any raw nerves. Ow ow owww!!! I'm amazed that I even got any sleep last night. I thought I was in the clear today, but on the lightrail home after work, I tapped my upper right molar briefly. The pain shot through my teeth like lightning. And there was nothing I could do but tough it out for another ten minutes, until finally reaching the Mall of America.

I've been sloshing my mouth with Chloraseptic, which works as a local anesthetic, and cold water works pretty good, too (I'm told a salt-water concoction works wonders). These feel like sudden attacks, not toothaches. Have I mentioned also that I'm not signed up with the company's dental/medical plan? Ow. Living in a third-world country sucks.

Again, why does the United States still not have universal health care? Our current system, which could be kindly called "A Punch in the Face," is a miserable disgrace. And yet ancient fears of taxes, long lines, and communism are trumped up endlessly by the conservative right. You know, the same ideologues that gave us the Wall Street meltdown, endless wars, crumbling infrastructure, rampant corruption, and a $10 trillion debt. How they continue to squeak by in election after election is a mystery for the ages. Sometimes I wish I wasn't living in the United States of Stupid.

I'll cross my fingers and hope my teeth behave, at least long enough for me to finally deal with going to the dentist and removing those rogue molars (or whichever ones the end teeth are). I remember going to the University of Minnesota sometime during the late '90s to see about taking them out. They charged per tooth, of course, plus the novocaine and the sleeping gas. I think the total bill for cutting my face up, removing all four wisdom teeth (they came in at crooked angles, which squeezes my teeth - upper teeth especially - in a stressful vice grip) would cost about $1,200. Twelve Hundred Bucks.

This is how you learn to put things off that you shouldn't, avoiding reckonings that you would be wiser to face. And now my days of putting this off are wearing thin. When your entire skull is aching and throbbing, you know you've got a problem. Heck, the nerve in my left foot is pulsating, more annoying than painful. But human beings learn to adapt to almost anything. Any steady pain soon becomes drowned out. It's just the cost of doing business, and you can eventually forget about it.

I'm feeling better now, but the dread, and the sense that I should have dealt with this ages ago, is still there, waiting, just like I know that long nerve in my upper gums is waiting. It's waiting to take me down like wild game. Bastards. Maybe a long nap will help things, and I'll go back to something normal. Or I'll wake up and still

It sure would be nice to have free dental in this stupid nation. It would be nice to finally enact Harry Truman's universal health care idea. You know, the one he conjured in 1948. Nineteen-Fourty-Freakin'-Eight. The same year the Democrats tackled racial segregation. Six decades later, and we're on the verge of electing America's first African-American President. And I still have to save up for months to pay the dentist, because the damned co-pays and deductibles are absurd. Sometimes I'm left to wonder what they're putting in the drinking water.

Ah, what does it matter? I should be thankful, grateful, that this is the one year where Joe The Plummer won't be the king-maker. Most other years and the peasants would be easily amused and seduced by the trivial and the stupid. This year, they're actually paying attention for a change. Perhaps this means we'll finally grow up a little and enact some painfully-long overdue remedies.

Oh, and one more free bit of advice: don't slosh too much Chloraseptic. The tingling stays in your mouth for days, like a slight dull numbing. It's like having a hangover without the benefit of earning it properly. This is what I retired from alcohol for? I need a good long nap. And then I need my wisdom tooth to behave, just a little while longer. Remember to brush your teeth, kids.

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