Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dentist meets the math teacher

I woke up in pain this morning. Tooth pain, which always knocks me flat. I took ibuprofen and waited for my dentist office to open.

This has happened before. I have four teeth with root canals. Each of them woke me up in pain. In 2012, I was in pain for months before the dentist believed me.

And not my dentist, but one of the other partners in the office. His quote: "If I touched it with cold it would hurt for a FEW MINUTES? You need a root canal!"

I have a high tolerance for pain, I know this is true, and 800 mg of ibuprofen took the edge off this morning. But I was dreading the root canal. More than the actual root canal, I was dreading the process, the confirmation of decay, the waiting, the waiting, the waiting.

My appointment was near lunch time, and I wasn't hurting as bad when I sat down in the chair. The same dentist who confirmed my last situation was going to see me, and I was glad, because I'm starting to get suspicious of my actual dentist's attention to detail. That's all I'll say about that. I'm debating my choices.

After the initial "does this hurt? Does this?" he decided I didn't need a root canal. I'd had a filling done last week (yes, I'm an adult who gets cavities, yes, I brush my teeth, yes, I floss, yes, genetics suck sometimes), and it was the same tooth causing the trouble.

Causing the trouble because the filling didn't cover all of the area where my dentist had drilled. Perhaps it had fallen out. Already. In 5 days. Sure. Or perhaps my dentist, well, that's all I'll say about that.

But here's the kicker. I was sitting there getting numb, and he asked me what I did for a living. I told him: I'm a middle school math teacher.

And there was this pause. He looked at his assistant. And then his assistant said, "Wow, I can't even imagine doing that, that's crazy."

About at this moment, the dentist begins his work, and so there's like 6 instruments and just as many hands working on one of my back molars. So I'm not talking.

But they are. The assistant proceeds to tell me not one, but FOUR stories about math, how much math sucks, how much he hates math, why, where, by whom, for what purpose, and so forth.

The dentist takes his time. He does a spectacular job. I am eternally grateful when health professionals are kind and efficient and talented. I thanked him and his assistant.

The dentist shook my hand, told me to let the office know if the tooth gave me trouble, take ibuprofen for a few days, etc. "And good luck going back to school this fall. I couldn't do it."

You're a DENTIST. And you there, you're his ASSISTANT.

What on earth do you think I do each day in the classroom? Burlesque lion taming while operating a crane on a barge? I mean, seriously.


  1. This made me laugh! But yes, for some of us, the idea of a classroom full of kids might be harder to face than ... well, name pretty much anything. (Though for me, less so these days - but in my 20s or early 30s? Yes, definitely.)

    I also can never quite understand people who hate maths and complain about it. It just isn't my experience. (Though I'm nowhere near as good as you!)

  2. That you can teach math to middle schoolers, and do it well, is testimony to your intelligence, understanding, and, yes, to your courage. Your photo of the crane pretty much sums up what many people think standing in front of hormone laden preteens must be like, just not as glamorous.

  3. I love it. Math seems to be a real bugaboo for a lot of people. But you have a math brain. Good for you! And, as CherylB said, you have the intelligence, understanding, and courage to take it to the tough crowd that you sometimes have to deal with. Kudos!

  4. I'm someone who could never stand up in front of a group of anyone and talk. So I get that part, but I don't know if that's why they think it's so crazy. Love the illustration. Mostly like that maybe you've found a competent dentist. Yeeesh.