Monthly Archives: April 2013

Nothing Hurts Like Your Mouth

I had my root canal today.  One week earlier, I was eating lunch and thinking, “wait, that feels sharp.  Oh, crap.”  At lunchtime today, I was thinking, “wait, that feels too smooth.  Oh, crap.”

Last week, I waited for almost an hour to get taken back for an exam.  Today I had barely gotten into the chair in the waiting room when they called me back.  I felt like that was a good sign; starting quick, ending quick.  Git ‘er done.

(You know how quiz shows have a buzzer sound that indicates a wrong answer?  Pretend I have one of those.)

I was told the procedure would take about an hour and a half.  I expected to be back at my desk, a five-minute walk across the street, by 11:30 a.m.  Instead, I strolled in around 1:00 p.m.

See, the tooth I needed…I’m going to call what they did “excavated”…is (was?) the last tooth on the top row on the left side of my mouth.  That’s pretty difficult to get to.  On top of that, there was the cavity to get rid of, and then there was an extra canal in there somewhere as well (which, according to the venerable medical journal Wikipedia, is actually fairly common in molars).  Of course I’d be difficult.  All that extra time and work…and pulling and contorting of my face…naturally leads to more swelling and discomfort in the end.  Of course.

Despite reassurances that “it’s not that bad,” it was almost assuredly a reasonably bad experience.  Whenever you get a needle they tell you, “oh, you’ll just feel a little pinch.”  That’s bull.  It didn’t feel like a pinch; it felt like she was putting a needle into my gum.  The weird part is that I could feel the liquid anesthetic dripping into my gum; like, I could feel it trickling in.  Kind of off-putting.

I could also feel them working on the tooth a little bit.  I assume it would have been significantly worse without any anesthetic, and there were a couple times where I thought about signalling for more.  In fact, towards the end of the procedure, one poke in particular caused my body to involuntarily  jolt a little bit.  “Did that hurt?” she asked.  Nah, I like to fake the occasional convulsion when people have fingers and instruments in my mouth.  Just a fun little game I play.

Apparently they have to fabricate a crown somewhere off-site, which means I have a temporary one for a couple weeks.  Unfortunately, it feels like a mess because it’s the last tooth, which means there is nothing but gum to affix it to on one side.  It feels like there is a wad of silly putty in the back of my mouth.

I was very careful eating dinner (just some rice because yeah right am I actually going to chew anything seven hours later), and quickly came to a realization: I will never know if I have food caught back there, because what’s left of my natural tooth is “dead,” and the nerve is gone, so I won’t feel anything.  As I ran my tongue around the area to clean out any stray grains, the lack of sensation was, in and of itself, a strange sensation.

The tooth is so far back that if I open my mouth to smile or speak to you, you’ll never be able to tell what’s going on back there.  The problem is that I can.  I’ve been told that once the swelling goes down, and then later once the permanent crown is in there, it will feel much better.  To the point that I won’t even think about it anymore, that I will eat and drink normally, that it won’t feel like I have a foreign body resting in my gums.

As of right this second, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, but I remain hopeful.  Until then, I guess I have no choice but to grin and bear it.

(Pun so incredibly intended.)

We Are Who We Are

The biggest news story of today was Jason Collins’ announcement that he is gay.  Collins is an active professional basketball player, and the story is that he is the first active male athlete in a major team sport in the United States to come out of the closet.

While it’s great for him that he can live his life out in the open, and I could never begin to imagine what it’s like to hide behind a facade like that, my first reaction was: so?

Don’t get me wrong; I understand that it’s a big deal.  But if we’re truly a more tolerant society, which in a lot of ways we are, shouldn’t someone not need to make an announcement?

I guess it just bothers me that this matters.  I think the comments along the lines of “oh he’s not a star so it doesn’t count” are stupid.  Of course it “counts.”  I just don’t like that we’re even debating that.  We should all be free to live our lives without hiding who we were, and without having to orchestrate an announcement.

I see the messages of support on Twitter and in the news media for Collins.  On the one hand, that’s great; I’m glad his colleagues are showing that they care for him.  By all accounts, he’s an intelligent, thoughtful guy, and I’m glad people like him.  But on the other hand, if we feel the need to show our support for someone because they live a certain lifestyle, or because we know they’re going to deal with negativity because of it, then have we really advanced all that much?

Ideally, there will be a time when an athlete, or movie star, or politician, or the bartender down the street “coming out” won’t happen.  They will simply be gay, and people will know it, or they won’t, and it won’t matter.  They’ll just be Bob, the guy who works at the deli.  Or George, the guy you went to high school with.  Or Jason, the professional basketball player.

Someday.  Unfortunately, that day wasn’t today.

This is the Anthem

We sing or play the national anthem before all of our sporting events in the United States.  It’s whatever; if you like it, cool; if not, I get it.  I have no problem with it, but I feel like that’s a symptom of having attended hundreds of games and just being used to it.  Standing for the national anthem is just another part of the pre-game protocol.

What I most certainly do not like is how some people make the national anthem into their own personal performance piece.  I am reminded of this tonight because TNT felt the need to show the anthem before the Golden State-Denver NBA playoff game tonight.  The anthem doesn’t usually make it onto the broadcast unless it’s a special event and there’s a big star performing.  That wasn’t the case tonight, but it was a cute story, because the anthemist was the wife of Warriors head coach Mark Jackson.

To put it politely, it was awful.  Here:

Total train wreck.  She added words!  This is not American Idol, this is the NATIONAL ANTHEM.  It’s not about you, Desiree, or anyone else who sings it.  Treat it with a little bit of respect.

Oh, and lose the shades.  You’re indoors.

What It’s Like to Have to Choose

I was originally planning on writing about the NFL Draft on draft day, but then I realized the friggin’ thing is three days long, so I had some time.

If you can’t already tell, I am not a fan.  Part of it has to do with the fact that I like football itself less than I used to.  Part of it is that NOTHING IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.  IT IS MEN READING OFF THE NAMES OF OTHER MEN.  And yet it dominates sports from the end of the Super Bowl until the end of April.

I guess I just don’t understand what makes someone obsess about football when you’re still four-plus months away from games that actually count.  There are so many other – better, in my mind – sports going on.  Football is so far past its saturation point these days that you would think fans need a break.

(And no, I’m not being hypocritical here; baseball is my favorite sport, and I’d love to watch it year-round, but the off-season circus barely registers with me.  Come November, I don’t mind it going away for a few months.  I also don’t watch too many spring training games, either.  Something about seeing number 78 pitching to number 63 makes it seem less important.)

Then again, is it past its saturation point?  If people care so much about what college player their favorite team is forcing to work for them and them alone (yeah, reconcile that with your idea of freedom and worker’s rights, America), I guess the NFL is doing something right.  Brainwashing, probably.

I mentioned that I don’t like football as much anymore.  It’s not out of some benevolent nod to the increased attention on the dangers of the game; if the guys playing it choose to play it, I don’t feel guilty watching it.  No, it all ties into that overkill aspect I was talking about.  When there are games going on, from September through January, I will watch, for the most part, every Sunday (when work allows).  But the nationwide obsession…like, when baseball’s pennant races are going on in the last couple weeks of September, the fact that Week 3 NFL games are considered a national event bothers me.  I also know in my mind that the amount of coverage the league gets on September 15 is only marginally higher than the coverage it gets on April 15, which is, I repeat, nearly five months before the season begins.

I tip my cap to the NFL owners; they’ve figured out how to maximize what they get out of their product.  The season ends in February now, and a few weeks later, free agency begins.  Then it’s the scouting combine (the fact that men working out gets so much coverage boggles my mind), the draft, and pretty soon, team mini-camps.  Before you know it, it’s July, and training camps will open and then preseason games start and then oh look, Week 1 is here and the cycle repeats.

People love football way too much.  I don’t get it, and I probably never will.  But whether I like or understand it or not, it’s America’s biggest sports obsession.

I used to wonder what the NFL Network could possibly show all day from February through August.  How silly of me to think it actually mattered.

Put Your Back Into It

I had kind of a long day at work.  I got home around 8:30.  Picked up some pizza because duh.  Watched some baseball.  Laid around for a little while.

Eventually, I got up, because hey, I had a blog entry to write.  And that’s when the searing pain ripped through my lower back.  My word.

Occasionally, my back will hurt after a lengthy period of doing something.  Whether it’s bowling, or golf, or carrying stuff, or sitting at my desk, my back will occasionally start to hurt.  Sometimes it’s the upper back; then, it’s more of a stiffness, and it works itself out soon enough.

Unfortunately, this one is in the lower back, towards the right side.  Those are the ones that linger.  Usually the whole “ah crap, my back hurts” thing lasts for a few days, or a week or two, and then goes away.  It’s that abrupt, too; one day, I wake up and it hurts, the next day I wake up and forget that I ever had a problem.

So yeah.  I’m gonna go get a hot pad see if I can’t find a comfortable way to sit.  But it’s only temporary, because everyone knows back pain goes away the older you get.

Right?

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

So I had my dentist appointment this morning.

(Dentist appointment?  Dentist’s appointment?  I don’t know.  Let’s just go with, “I went to the dentist today.”)

The appointment was scheduled for 10:30 a.m.  I was early because the building is right across the street from my office.  I knew I’d have to fill out some paperwork, and after I did, I sat.  And sat.  And sat.

It appears that despite many dentists working at this practice, only one was in today.  And while there were few patients, all of them were getting actual procedures done as opposed to a cleaning that a hygienist could do.

I finally got called back.  The hygienist apologized for the delay, but I wasn’t upset.  The only thing was the not knowing…like, even though I knew it wouldn’t happen, part of me hoped I’d get called back by 10:45, be checked out, fixed, and sent on my way by 11:30.  Instead, it was 11:30 and the dentist hadn’t even seen me yet.

After she did, she confirmed my initial self-diagnosis: I had a cavity.  Unfortunately, that cavity went all the way to the nerve, so I need a root canal.

(Side note: a “root canal” is a part of a tooth.  “Root canal therapy” is the procedure that everyone fears.)

What’s going to happen is she’ll dig out any bad stuff that might be in there and then take out the root, essentially killing the tooth (R.I.P.).  Then the tooth gets filled with some sort of substance that isn’t the same as a filling; this substance filters into the root canal (see?) and seals everything off.  Then comes a crown.  All told, they said it would take about an hour and a half.

From what I’ve been told, it’s not as bad as everyone thinks it is.  My insurance covers a large part of it, so while I will be writing a check to the dentist’s office, it won’t be nearly as bad as it could have been.

Even though I don’t have any now, the dentist told me I could feel pain in the tooth at any time.  So that’s nice.  What I do know is that I’ll be feeling pain in my wallet (and a mild dose of anxiety) come Tuesday morning.  I will no doubt have a full report.

Trivia answers from Wednesday: Larry Johnson, Horace Grant (no, Michael Jordan was not in NBA Jam), Detlef Schrempf, Dan Majerle, Clyde Drexler.

To the Hoop, Y’all

At Quizzo tonight, one of the rounds was “Sports Video Games.”  We did not do as well as maybe we should have, but eh, it happens.

A few of the questions were based around the rosters of the original “NBA Jam” arcade game, one of the classic sports games that helped usher in a new age of sports video games.

I was thinking it might be fun to have trivia questions or quizzes on the blog because, well, I obviously like trivia questions, and this is my blog.  So here we are, the first pop quiz, and it’s on NBA Jam:

You will be given a team and the name of one of the two players on that team’s roster in the original NBA Jam arcade game.  Name his teammate.  Answers revealed tomorrow; don’t go look them up.

Charlotte Hornets: Kendall Gill and ________________________

Chicago Bulls: Scottie Pippen and ________________________

Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller and ________________________

Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley and ________________________

Portland Trail Blazers: Terry Porter and ________________________

Good luck!

One More Kick in the Teeth

I will just come right out and say it: I have been terrible the last few years at getting to the dentist.  You’re supposed to go every six months, but I’ve had one cavity in my life, never have tooth pain that lasts more than a day, and brush my teeth like I’m supposed to.  So let’s just say that while I haven’t completely abandoned modern dentistry, I’m not necessarily a familiar face to those whose names end in “DDS.”

At some point, I noticed something wrong with one of my teeth.  It’s the very last tooth on the left side of the top row.  A molar.  It didn’t hurt, but the outside seemed like it had a chip on it.  Again, it wasn’t intrusive or anything, it was just kind of…there.  I figured it would come up the next time I went to get a check-up and that would be that.

Well, today, I must have chipped some more off or something because there is a jagged edge back there.  Like I said, it’s not intrusive, it’s kinda parked up there out of the way, but my tongue just keeps going to it, almost as if to check and see if it’s still messed up.  Hold on…yup.  Still messed up.

I feel like it’s not too serious because it doesn’t hurt, it’s not sensitive to temperature/eating/brushing it/contact/anything, but at the same time, there are like 745 different things that you can get done to your teeth (figure is approximate), and they all cost money.  Fortunately, my employer gives me dental insurance, so I logged on to see what kind of stuff they cover.

Not knowing anything about this stuff, I should never have done that.  I learned that crowns are only half-covered, and can be expensive.  I learned that a root canal is completely covered (FANTASTIC), as are amalgams.  I then had to look up what an amalgam is.  It’s a filling.  Oh.

There are also things called “inlays and outlays,” which, after careful research (read: a trip through Wikipedia), appear to be somewhere between fillings and crowns.  These are sometimes made of gold, so if I need one, it will be a good jumping-off point for my rap career.

I tried to make an appointment for tomorrow, but apparently the office is closed on Wednesdays, so if I went, I’d probably be waiting a bit.  I’m going on Thursday morning, and hopefully that will be that.  Regardless, lesson learned.  I think.

Cruisin’ Down 8th Street, Off-White Lexus

I like to consider my car an antique.  It’s a 2008 Pontiac G6, and they don’t make those anymore.  I’d love to get one of the little “Classic Car” license plates just for the irony of it.

I like my car; it’s the perfect color (I think it’s called “midnight blue metallic”), it’s the right size, and it just has the right “look” to it for my taste.  My car is my car, and it’s a lot of things…but it’s not a Lexus.

But then again…when does a Lexus stop being “a Lexus?”

I see high-end car makes in parking lots all the time.  But sometimes there’s a Mercedes or a Lexus that’s kind of old and I wonder…is there still any prestige involved with owning that car?  If I roll up in a 2012 Lexus you’re like “oh, fancy,” but if I hop out of my 1995 Lexus, does that still count?  Is it, “once a luxury car, always a luxury car?”  Or is my 2008 Pontiac more…whatever…than a 1997 Benz?

These are the things I think about as I walk across the parking lot.  It’s a wonder I haven’t gotten myself run over.

Rollin’ on the River

I took part in our local bowling association’s annual tournament earlier today.  And I am gassed.

I’m not an elite bowler.  My average fluctuates depending on what house I’m bowling in; there is one place where everyone’s average seems to be 10 pins higher, but in the house I usually bowl in, I’m in the mid-180s.

(Basically, when I go bowling with friends or work colleagues, I’m far and away the best bowler in the group.  No one comes within 30 pins of me.  However, in my leagues, I’m barely even in the top half of averages.  Just a little perspective.)

There are singles, doubles, and team events in the tournament.  Each is three games, and they are handicapped to level the playing field.  That explains how the last two times I’ve competed, in 2010 and 2012, I’ve cashed in at least one event.  Yay me.

In the past, I’ve done all of the events in one day. That means three games of team competition, followed by a break, then three games of singles and three games of doubles consecutively.  That’s a long day, but I’ve been bowling six games every Thursday night for the past seven years, so it’s not as difficult for me as it is for some.

Well, until today.

We arrived plenty early enough to check in before bowling.  We were assigned to a pair with folks that we bowl with on Thursday night, friends of ours, so it was shaping up to be a fun morning.  That’s when one of the tournament officials told us there had been a mistake, and we would have to bowl our singles and doubles events first and the team event later.

No big deal, except because of the way everything was scheduled, we wouldn’t have that key break after the first three games.  Six games, followed almost immediately by three more.  That’s…that’s a lot.

Conditions at tournaments are supposed to be tougher than normal.  The oil was a little excessive, but from bowling in this house every week for seven years, it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.  My knee started to hurt in the second frame.  Again, nothing I haven’t seen before.  I threw three series that were around average, which is better than I usually do at these events; generally, I’m all over the place, so I’m content with how I did.

The big difference, of course, was the fatigue.  My back started to get sore by the seventh game.  One of my teammates was having shoulder problems.  Another one’s hamstring started to act up.  Over the last two games of the team event, games eight and nine, I had one open frame out of 20 (an open frame is a frame where you don’t strike or spare).  I’m actually kind of proud of that.  I know it sounds like a small achievement, and I know that it might not sound like it’s all that much work to bowl that much (I mean, people drink beer all day while they do it, so it can’t be that hard, right?), but I assure you, it’s not as easy as you might think.

You’re probably asking yourself, “did he just write like 500 words about bowling?”  Yes, I did.  Why?  Well, it’s the one thing that defined my day today.  I woke up, bowled, came home, showered, ate dinner, and then laid in bed for a couple hours watching a game.  I am beat up.  My knee is still sore.  My back is fine, but I’m tired.

And after the things that have happened and the things I’ve written about in the past week, if the worst thing about my day is that I had to bowl nine games in six hours and I’m a little sore six hours later, then that’s not all that bad of a day.