Wednesday, September 9, and Monday, September 14, 2009. Dates that will live in dental hygienist school..er..lore. Or somethin'.
Them was the two days that my friend, the budding dental hygienist, took one of the single biggest risks in her early pre-career: she brought me into the school, into the presence of her peers and instructors.
I'm many things, including off-the-wall and flatulent, but I'll have you know that I never once brought up Tim Conway in the total of 7 or so hours I was there.
But I think I made her (and others) suspect I'd brought a tad of that kind of spirit with me.
The first day began simply enough; after some routine paperwork (as routine as it could be, asking ME questions and expecting straight answers, though she did have the trump card of equipment capable of drilling and waterboarding the answers out of me, if necessary), it was time for x-rays.
I knowd I was in trouble straight away. I told her to disregard the void between my ears. Which was one of those "goes without saying", 'cuz she's known me all these years. Still, with a grin, sigh, and those patented *roll of the eyes*, she said she'd be shooting a bit lower, and then gleefully planted me in the chair, and threw a lead truss across me to make sure I stayed there, using the excuse that it was just to protect my thyroids from x-rays. Before I could make an anatomical remark about thyroids belonging in the thighs, there began a trend that would continue, on and off, for much of those two days. She had me shut up. Sort of.
It really wasn't hard for her to accomplish, what with the metal/plastic/rubber/tungsten-platinum-plus/et al device she used to shoot x-rays of every conceivable angle of my chops. It kinda looked like a cross between a slide rule and a fabric stretcher for a couch, and it had that effect in my yap. My best response to when she asked "how are you doing with this?", was a heart-felt "mufhgjoairourmphf".
Once that was done, I sat immobilized by the lead restraining thingee, listening to snippets of one of her instructors explaining aspects of the x-rays. I didn't catch most of it -- they were just around the corner from the x-ray machine -- but I was certain I heard more than one "you're kidding, right?" I wasn't sure they hadn't caught a glimpse of the "big valley" betwixt my ears. I didn't ask.
Once released from the bondage of the truss, I was off to be "charted". Which again allowed my friend considerable latitude to keep me reasonably docile, other than when I would try to swallow one or more of her dental implements, or when I'd let my eyes describe a 360 degree circle during a suction, and have the mini-mee wet vac miss a tad. All in the spirit of fun, I assure you.
During the "charting process", I got to learn a plethora of new words. Most of which I can't remember now. But they sounded so intriguingly clinical, like "diacanineilcornicomatosis", "bicuspidal incisoramification", "orthodauntya" and "occlutional premolaresque pitui". And one of my favorites, "fractardinationally periodontasaurus", which I was convinced had been extinct since the Jurassic Era.
And there was a clinical term applied to me, though I found it strangely familiar: "goof ball".
I plan to use these words (perhaps even the last one) as seminal in my pick up lines at the next dental hygienist bar I go to ("hey, babe, can I get periodontal with your plaque rating?"). Not that I expect it to work...all her peers saw me and the word is out, but I digress.
Then came Monday, and it was time for "it": the cleaning, after two of her instructors came in to look over my x-rays and settle a bet they had after the "you're kidding, right" episode. I, of course, was the epitome of...me, like when one instructor made note of a "depression" in my teeth, I assured her that my teeth were happy and well-adjusted.
I didn't know they had Nerf hammers for patient "maintenance of order". Now I do, along with learning the fact that *bonk* is actually in the dental dictionary.
One personally uncomfortable moment arose, when during some discussion as my tongue became the focus of terminology beyond my personal syntax, a reference to "shorter than normal" was overheard by my very astute ears.
I was pleased that it was this part of my anatomy that was being discussed, and breathed a sigh of relief, being careful not to swallow a dental implement, lest I had to go back and get lead trussed so they could look for it.
Now my friend -- done up like a surgeon -- deftly alternated an ultrasonic cleaner, an irrigator, a suction hose, a mirror and a probe in my mug, and would gleefully ask me questions like "if a molar falls on the floor, and nobody see it, will the Tooth Fairy pay you for it?", leaving me to answer, in my most articulate dental patientese, "wkeighoaofupppfhtttpf".
Her two sisters, and a host of friends and acquaintances, were envying her right about now. Except for when I'd slobber.
At one moment in the proceedings, a little bit of Tim Conway did creep in, as a momentary shift in my tongular angle created the effect of an aquatic water park fountain, spraying forth from my implement-infested yap. I was going to ask if this wouldn't cause a flap in Congress over "waterboarding", but all that came out was "mfgipadprjjfpwth", and water.
Fortunately, the tongular misdirection was corrected before the "Away All Boats" alarm could be sounded, and my exceptionally patient friend was able to resume, without having to dog paddle.
Finally, with the threat of rising seas and congressional investigations behind us, my teeth were done, and shortly thereafter, passed muster with flying mandibulars, or something in the ballpark.
When it comes to going to the dentist, I am a self-professed weenie. But for my friend and her career change, it was worth it. Helpin' a friend always is. Besides, my teeth were clean. My friend was pleased. Her instructors were pleased. Her peers at the dental hygienist bar were warned.
Except the poor dental transcriptionist, who might know what a "lingualism abscess of the square root of canal hydroxinator" is, but will never be able to translate "mwomdpahffitheodack!".