The month of April is fired.

Apr 11, 2008

No, more than that. If I could nuke the month of April clean off of the human calendar, I'd do just that. There'd be a big, 30 day gap between March and June where nothing would have a chance to go wrong, blow up, or otherwise try to fuck people without the usual accoutrements of dinner, a couple of drinks, and some lubricant first.

First of all, my federal income taxes got screwed up this year. Somehow, I was marked as already married on my W-2 form, which means that not enough money was taken out up front for taxes. This means that I wound up owing Uncle Sam money. A lot of money. $4300us, to be precise.

Secondly, work has been such that it's now seriously affecting my health. Not only has it turned my sleep schedule on its head, so that I'm lucky to get about three hours of rest per night, but it's also distracted my body's immune system by trash-talking at it while something nasty snuck up behind it and whacked it over the head with a folding chair. I think I've been running a low-grade fever for at least a couple of days, and at work today after standing up, I suddenly broke into a cold sweat and felt the urgent need to sit down again - hard. All of this had the signs of dental work going bad. Then, around 0930, during my first cup of coffee (wouldn't you know), the second molar on the top left side of my mouth started throbbing all the way up into my left eye socket. I ran down to CVS to pick up a bottle of Motrin (horse doctor's size) to get me through the day, but while the pain eventually faded to an unusual sensitivity to pressure, I still couldn't concentrate.

In hindsight, I think the inability to concentrate, inability to sleep, random headaches, irritability, and unusual tiredness and lethargy should be filed away under the tag "Hey, dumbass - dental trouble off the starboard bow!" At any rate, Lyssa managed to take a candle and a couple of dried roses and somehow manage to get me an emergency appointment at 1215 EST5EDT with Dr. Hong at Family Dentistry (8622 Lee Highway, Suite A; Fairfax, VA 22031; telephone number 703-876-4600), who put me through the usual paces... once again, when it came to the hot/cold temperature test with the can of compressed air and the electro-stimulation probe, I think that I managed to levitate a couple of inches off the chair by explosively contracting my buttocks alone. Moreover, the pain was such that no amount of Motrin taken afterward was able to put a dent in it, which is an even worse sign because that usually means an abscessed tooth.

Goody. No wonder my energy reserves were being used up faster than I could replenish them. My body was going ten rounds with an infection that was eating the nerve tissue alive.

Dr. Hong managed to get me an appointment for an emergency root canal with Dr. Brian Suh of Tysons Corner Endodontics (8150 Leesburg Pike; Suite 502; Vienna, VA; 22182; telephone 703-288-3299) for 1600 local time, which gave me just enough time to go home, change out of my work clothes, and get down there for the main show. As one would expect of my luck, the pain in that particular tooth faded to a dull ache shortly after I got to the office. Maybe it's the anesthetic effect of filling out paperwork, I don't know. On the other hand, the emergency root canal started like a bad day (funny how that happens..) and slammed to a halt with a neat bootlegger's turn. Dr. Suh is, to put it mildly, the grand master of the root canal. Inside of ten minutes he had me set up for a digital scanning x-ray (which was awesome to behold - rather than using photographic film, a scanning element with a USB interface (connected to a PC in a corner of the room) went into my mouth to capture the image), shot full of novocaine, and rigged up beneath a rubber dental dam. I think it took him seconds to drill through the filling and get into the molar in question.

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I'm a pretty solid transhumanist. Even though my field of expertise is information security and software rather than hardware, I'm all for using hardware and software to augment people into the next step in human evolution. Software? Bioware? Hardware? Genetic engineering? I'm all for it. Set me up, shoot me up, jack me in , charge me up, and watch me go. But you know what? These days I'm not sure that I could handle anything like that because the very thought of those teeny, tiny little files being used to triturate all of the pulp and nerve tissue out of the insides of one of my teeth makes me want to scream. I even pondered asking for a mild sedative before the RCT procedure began at the office. The idea of a set of extremely fine rasps wiggling around up inside my jaw where living tissue used to be gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. And the ubiquitous 1.7 cc hypodermic syringe? I don't care what gauge it is, it still looks like it's about the size of a Howitzer barrel from where I'm sitting. This is really why I get stressed out over dental work: Little, sharp bits going places where mother nature never intended. Every muscle in my body locks up and I go rigid as a board for as long as it takes. This usually means exhaustion after the procedure is over.

All of the whining and trying to be silly aside, Dr. Suh set about his task like he could do it in his sleep. He had everything cleaned out of there in record time, gave me a ten minute break, and then set about cleaning out the diseased tissue from beneath the infected molar faster than I could figure out what the hell was going on. He even noticed the extra root that I seem to have in my molars and scraped that one out without breaking stride. It was the work of minutes to install the plastic sealing slivers in the roots themselves, and set the posts in place that will later anchor the build-up and crown. Less than an hour.

Oh, by the way, of course my dental insurance won't cover any of this, so I have to pay another $1400us out of pocket, broken into two monthly installments.

I paid for half of the process when it was all said and done, and got stuck in traffic for another hour trying to get to CVS to fill my prescription for vicodin. I took one about an hour ago, and I'm just about ready to pass out for the night.