The dental hygienist said to me, "Are you okay?"
And I turned to look at her with amazement and said, "Are you crazy? She's stabbing me in the mouth with a needle!"
Today is Friday. I had two teeth extracted on Monday: one from my top jaw, left side, the other from the bottom jaw, also left side. I've had double extractions before, and I just don't remember it hurting this bad, for this long. So, I called the dentist today, and she told me to come in and she would look at it, and she said it sounded like I had a dry socket.
Doesn't sound bad, does it? Hey, the socket is dry, just squirt it with some WD40 or Rem Oil or a light coat of LSA, whatever, and tootle on down the road!
Oh, nay, nay. That is NOT what they do. First she shot my poor jaw full of novocain, then she grabbed a...
...I don't know WHAT she grabbed. I think it had a diesel-electric motor.
And she JABBED and SCRAPED
and SCRAPED on my jaw, until the people below us in the restaurant downstairs started to bang on the ceiling, asking us to keep the noise down.
And, rather than add to the ruckus by screaming like a
Which is when the hygienist asked "Are you okay?"
Well, shortly after that, it was over. And I commented to the sweet little hygienist, bless her heart, that I hadn't meant to be rude, but that I was hurting like the dickens because the doctor was scraping my jawbone so I would bleed and not get a dry socket any more.
(And we also talked about the fact that NOTHING pleasant ever follows the instruction "try to relax." Nobody ever says "try to relax" just before they kiss you, for example. Unless vampires do that.)
Now, if you have known me for any significant period of time, you know that I have a chronic pain condition. It was a great relief to me when I was diagnosed with it 12 years ago, because I was wondering if this was just the way things were for everybody, and I was just a wimp. As it turns out, no, that's not the case. I have ankylosing spondylitis, due to my genetic inheritance from my Neanderthal ancestors. There have been several manifestations of this among the men in my family; we just have to learn to make the necessary accommodations, and to fight back whenever possible.
In fact, I started a new counter-attack last January 29, when I hung my cane up on the wall of my man-cave, and bought a FitBit, and started walking every day. And yes, it's going great! Just had my blood checked today, so the doc can see if he needs to adjust my blood pressure and diabetic medication yet.
But! I'm NOT okay. I am, however, continuing the mission.
This was tough for my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA to accept, in the very early stages of our relationship. From time to time, I'll get a stabbing pain in my back, just because, and I wince. She'd see me do that, and say "Are you okay?"
"No," I'd reply. "I'm not okay. I'm hurting, but that's all."
And eventually, I was able to get her to realize that it WAS just pain. It's not going to kill me, but neither is it going to go away. And I hope, hope, hope that through the six years of living with me, she has seen how this thing is dealt with, because recently she received her own little bit of an explanation for her painful joints. Seems she has either rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, and they aren't sure which, but it's one of those diseases in that cluster. And it's not okay.
But that's not the point, really, is it? She and I are a devoted married couple. We are parents. We are grandparents. We do things for other people. We get paychecks. We love God, and serve Him, and we are determined to become sweet old people. (Already there, actually: she's sweet, and I'm old. Her words, not mine!)
None of that depends on ANYBODY being okay, if okay means 'free of defect' and 'functioning as designed.' Instead, it all depends on our determination to continue our mission. That's the part that's important.
"Are you okay?"
"Can you get pizza on the way home?"
That's what matters for hungry children. And so, despite the fact that we are not okay, we continue the mission, get the pizza, and then go to bed when we get the opportunity.
And we even have a cute saying we can use! When I was in the Army, they taught me the phonetic alphabet. The phonetic spelling of the phrase "Continue the Mission" is "Charlie Mike." Isn't that sweet? I'm gonna start saying that. I may alternate it with a core-value phrase I used constantly, during one of the roughest times of my life: "I am yet holding on." And maybe I'll use them both:
"How are ya doin'?"
"I am yet holding on. Charlie Mike."
Peace on your household.