Saturday, July 10, 2010

"It's not as bad as you think!"

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

"It's not as bad as you think."  That's what the receptionist said to me yesterday when I FINALLY made my appointment for oral surgery.

See, I was at Malice Domestic back in April, and my friend Avery Aames gave me a homemade goat-cheese brownie.  It smelled heavenly, but I'd just eaten a big dinner and decided to save it for later.  Later turned out to be about seven the next morning.  It was a big day!  I was nominated for an Agatha for best novel 2009 for my third Booktown Mystery BOOKPLATE SPECIAL.  I had a busy day scheduled, topped off by being introduced to the whole conference with the other nominees.

I was nervous.  Being nervous makes me hungry.  So I bit into that delicious brownie and -- whoa!  That was a big walnut in there.  A big CRUNCHIE walnut.  Only it wasn't a walnut, it was my bridge!  I looked down at the brownie and saw a perfect impression of my bridge.

I cried for about twenty minutes.  Then I dried my tears and finished the brownie.  (Hey, it was delicious.)  And I wondered if maybe people would vote for me out of sympathy.  (Ha--didn't work.)

Now, I'd been to the dentist just the week before for my biannual cleaning.  I mentioned to the hygienist that I was nervous about the bridge because it was a little wobbly and I had a BIG event coming up and didn't want it to fall out.  "Don't worry--that thing's in there nice and tight.  It'll last you a couple of months." And then she flossed all around it.  Flossed really, REALLY energetically, something I'd been terrified to do.  The dentist came in to check things out.  She frowned.  "It's pretty loose," she said. (It hadn't been just before all that flossing.) "Will it fall out before next week?  I only need to it stay in there until next week," I said.  She just frowned.

When I didn't win the Agatha I was actually kind of relieved.  Now I wouldn't have to have my picture taken with a big hole in my mouth.  (And I hadn't made room for the award on my shelf anyway.)

Fast forward five days.  I'd hoped my dentist could just cement the crown back in, but she shook her head.  "You broke off what was left of the tooth.  You need implants.  Or a partial plate.  Go to the specialist for a consultation."

I liked the specialist.  I didn't like the idea of a bone graft or the cost.  It took me two months to decide what to do.  (Yes, I am a chicken.)  I was worried because he said this kind of surgery could cause a lot of bruising.  "You might look like someone beat you up."  Ohh.  Well, I had a book launch to think about.  Did I want to look like an assault victim at my book launch for Chapter & Hearse or just a hillbilly?  (I choose hillbilly.)

So, four days after my book launch, I will be sitting in the dentist's chair getting my roots extracted and that wonderful bone graft (made of cadaver spare parts).  Later, when that heals,  I'll receive some the titanium screws.  Then when the screws have taken, I'll get the crowns.  (It's gonna cost a whole lotta $, and only about a quarter of that is covered under insurance.  Do I really need to save for my old age?  And if I'm old with no teeth, will I have to eat only mush?)  In all, the process could take six months or longer before I'm chewing with vigor on that side of my mouth.  (Just in time for the Agatha nominees to be announced for 2010?)

Scared, me?  You bet. And I won't stop thinking about it until about 11 a.m. on August 9th -- when it'll be over with.

But you know what, that brownie, made with a friend's love, was delicious.