Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I broke a molar two days ago, while eating a carraway seed roll. A piece of tooth the size of a small pea broke off, and is now lying on my kitchen windowsill. I'm not quite sure why I put it there, I do know that it can't just be glued back in place, but throwing it out felt wrong. (As far as I can reconstruct the events, a seed got wedged between teeth and acted as a tiny crowbar when I bit down.) It doesn't hurt, which makes me vaguely uneasy even as I am thankful.

At this point, I have to interrupt myself to give some backstory. We have two more weeks to get the tender documents written and published, and are working insanely long and hard at it. Last week set a kind of sad record: 67.5 hours at work. That amount of concentrated effort doesn't just wash off during the twelve-minute walk home downhill, not even when I see an urban fox trotting down the empty street before me at 1 a.m. as has happened twice now. Even at 2 a.m. it takes me at least an hour of tea and/or yoghurt and/or reading, to relax enough to be able to go to bed. I haven't been in Second Life in a week, I find that too strenuous after working so long and hard.

I had a great deal of difficulty getting to sleep that night, between worry about the tooth and residual stress from overwork. I lay in bed half-awake, my mind whirling in a strange paranoiac-critical state that I would not hesitate to describe as delusional if it had happened while I was awake and functional*. I found myself in conversation with the dentist, in affect not "imagining" the meeting so much as remembering something that hadn't happened yet. She said that the tooth was irreparable and must be removed, and suggested an implant.

I asked her whether it was worth all that bother and expense, "given that I am not going to be alive much longer."


That shook me awake, really awake. I was so disturbed that I considered getting up again and going online to talk to some friends who I knew (hoped) would be there. I talked myself down from the horror, telling myself it was just a moment of madness caused by overwork and exhaustion (true enough), and managed to go to sleep after a half-hour of reading.

Where the hell did that idea come from? On the one hand, I never thought that I would ever live to be as old as I am now (not that I expected to die, I just didn't think I would age), and I have certainly always lived as though life and youthful strength would be infinitely available; on the other hand, I was told by a reputedly infallible reader of tea-leaves in Boston that I would live to be 88. (She also said that I would be successful and happy but not rich, which so far is running 100%.)

And now, the punchline. Once this set of documents is finished, we'll have a few weeks' off. I was thinking about a trip to Israel, and had got as far as mailing some friends to pick dates and places. Right now, it looks like I will be giving my holiday fund to the dentist instead. Damn.

* Ignoring for the moment that one definition of being awake and functional is not being in a delusional state.

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Blogger Zhoen said...

In the middle of my SECOND broken tooth repair this year. A nightmare, of my teeth crumbling in my mouth. But, it's reparable. Not happy, but can be fixed.

Put the tooth bit under your pillow, you might get a visit from the tooth fairy. Or bury it, very old magic if anyone gets a hold of it...

My utter sympathies, dear friend.

September 23, 2009 at 10:57:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Bruce Oksol said...

I asked myself the same thing about six months ago when a broken molar required a crown; I also wondered if time and expense was worth the anticipated length of life yet to live.

Anyway, the tooth repair was much "easier" than I expected; the dentist took credit (card) and I pay off a bit each month and there you have it.

I guess it could be worse. You could be a staff officer working for the government. Any government.

September 24, 2009 at 2:06:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Dale said...

I've got a tooth breaking every few years: apparently the fillings I got in childhood have been gradually expanding, over the decades, and every once in while just break a tooth apart, like a tree root breaking a sidewalk. Sigh.

September 24, 2009 at 7:10:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Shari said...

I hope you'll make it to Israel anyway. I'd be thrilled to meet you (over beer at sunset on the beach?) after reading your blog all these years.

September 24, 2009 at 1:57:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Anonymous sis said...

Maybe "not dead yet" takes on new meaning. Still waiting for a copy of that speech, by the way.

September 25, 2009 at 5:20:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Rob said...

Wow. After a gap of far too long since I last dropped by, I appear just as your mouth falls apart.

And just after my daughter persuaded me to watch this. And you thought you'd had a narrow escape from dental disaster?

November 24, 2009 at 12:14:00 a.m. GMT+1  

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