Gumming Up the Works

realenoughHave you ever made an appointment with a doctor or a dentist? They usually suggest some open dates, dates you would gather are good for them. Right? Now, once you’ve chosen one of their offerings, commonly, they type your name into the computer, into the slot of the date you chose, and then they fill out a business card-like reminder for you to pocket. corelappointmentAm I right? It’s not like you’re meaning to sneak in by the back alley way door on off hours. It’s all on the up and up. I mean they gave you this time. They gave you this date. Am I correct? Yes … yes, you are, because you’re me and I’m talking about me. It happens like this every time, and this time it happened, the time I’m going to talk about, it happened no differently, not in the least. “So then why?” I ask.

“Why what?” you ask.

Oh … I’m getting ahead of myself. Sorry.

I’d brushed my teeth too hard. That’s what they’d said. Now that wouldn’t have been bad in itself, but it seemed my gums had gotten in the way too and been sanded. Not all of them mind you, but enough to warrant a visit to the periodontist. I hope I’ve gotten that one right, ‘cause if I mislead you into thinking I’ve gone to a foot doctor, a bone doctor, or a woman’s doctor, I’m sure the rest of the story will become quite confusing and the last one will make me appear a bit unnatural. I went to a gum doctor. How about that? Simply stated … simply understood.

Now the procedure they were to do on me was going to be as awful as it sounds. There’s no kind way to put it. By means of a scalpel I guess, or a serrated kitchen knife, depending on how close it was to lunch, the perio… gum doctor I mean, was going to cut and carve and rip the roof of my mouth out, yes, and, after also slicing up the gums down around my overexposed teeth, not so that the graft would take, but so that it would bleed profusely to substantiate the huge bill and the funds they deemed necessary, rope that torn piece of beef from above to those wounds below, using some used dental floss and a prayer to a pagan god long since forgotten.

What? A hygienist had come into the room to borrow the floss. She’d said, “Borrow,” that meant it was coming back, and she wouldn’t have borrowed it if she wasn’t going to use it, right?

So where was I? Oh … right … back to the story.

So I’ve got an appointment they’d given me. I’d chosen the day after Thanksgiving at 12:30, not a day that wasn’t put in my face, not a time that wasn’t allotted by them. We all left on agreement with it. Let that be said and it has been and was, but not a few weeks later they had a go at it. The phone rang. It was someone representing the fine gum doctor, not woman’s doctor, and she wondered if I might not switch the off hour of my appointment to a later time, in that it infringed on the good gum doctor’s, not foot doctor’s, lunch time. I made a mental note that if I allowed them to move the time; they’d probably use a scalpel then instead of the serrated. “That’s all right,” I said. “What’s a better time?”

Scalpel or Serrated?

Scalpel or Serrated?

“How about 2?” she said.

“Fine, two it is.”

“Thank you, see you then.” That’s what she said. She didn’t say, “Bull turkey, why?” She’d said, “Thank you.” I assumed that she’d gotten what she wanted and who she represented, not the bone doctor, wanted too. You’d have thunked. Wouldn’t you have?

But the phone rang, from the gum doctor’s office, only a week and a half later.

“Would you like to switch the date of your appointment?” the woman from the office said. “We have an opening. We could do it this Friday.”

“Um … I thought I had to wait a couple of more weeks until the wound healed from the last procedure,” I said. I’d already recently been through this procedure on one side of my mouth and was moving to the other, but it was the same roof of my mouth that was going to be the donor.

“Oh, do you?” she said. “Let me check on that.” The woman put me on hold for a few moments and then came back. “Yes, it seems it would be better if we waited. So we’ll keep it as is.”

“That’s fine,” I said, not putting much weight in what had occurred, aware that bumped up appointments happen.

“Have a good day,” she said, and likewise I wished her too, and we both hung up.


Now the phone rings all the time. Most I don’t pick up, but at the end of the second week before Thanksgiving, the gum doctor’s office called yet again. It was a little early to call for confirmation on the date. They usually called in the same week of the scheduled appointment. “What now?” I thought, but lifted the receiver and said, “Hello,” very friendly-like.

“Mr. McManus, we had a cancellation for next week, on Friday, and were wondering if you wouldn’t want to move up your procedure to this earlier date.”

“O-o-oka-a-ay,” I told myself, and then vocally spoke into the phone, “But that would place the procedure just before Thanksgiving, and the reason why I’d placed it after Thanksgiving, was so that I would be able to eat on Thanksgiving.” I knew I’d mentioned that previously, but I understood that I wasn’t their only patient and to be remembered … but I was also beginning to wonder about the habit they were making of this, separating me from my previously prescribed appointment.

“Oh … well that makes sense,” she said, but sounded less than overly content with my response. “So um … we’ll keep it the same, why don’t we?” she finished.

“Yes … thank you,” I said, “… and have a happy Thanksgiving.”

“Oh … and you too, thank you.” And she hung up.

I thought it was kind to wish her a happy holiday, since I wasn’t going to hear from her until after it. Again you might have thunked, I did … or maybe you didn’t.

“Confirmation call in the same week, right,” you say, “didn’t you say that?”

Right, you’re right … uh … but no and yes. She called, yes. It was in the same week and before Thanksgiving, but she wanted to know if I could move up the time, not if I was coming. If anything, maybe she would have preferred it if I wasn’t … and with the strangest sense, I was beginning to wonder how many at that office also preferred that I not go, as if they were all leaning over her shoulder with baited breath, waiting for my answer while dental suction devices groveled in the background due to the lot of patients and their drained and dried mouths that had been overly sucked and no one to remove the instruments. They’d given up on getting rid of me for the day, but what was the game now?

“You see, the office was hoping to close early on Friday,” she said, “due to the holiday and the weekend.”

I was right; there had to be a lot of overly sucked mouths there missing their attendants. Now remember, I’d actually had an earlier appointment at 12:30 before they’d asked to switch it. Maybe they’d broken the scalpel and only had a serrated knife with which to work and could only find it during lunch. I might not be making any sense, but I’m trying to wrap my head around this one too you know.

“Could you make it at 1:30 instead?” she asked. You could have heard a pin drop on the other end of the line … theirs.

“Y-yes.” I hesitated. “I … I could do that.” I’d only hesitated because I’d suddenly had the image of the gum doctor with his two hands in my mouth, one throttling my throat from the inside out, and the other holding the scalpel while his two eyes had only eyes for the clock and myself wondering what happened to the anesthetics … oh yes, and an angry mob in their hygienist scrubs, threatening the loss of my eyes with their dental sucking devices, but it was too late. She must have said goodbye and I hadn’t heard. The woman on the phone was gone. She’d hung up. I removed the ringtone from my ear … and thought better not to think of it. It was better if I enjoyed my Thanksgiving … and perhaps the largest of last suppers.

Friday came. I could have told you when Friday came and I arrived at the gum doctor’s office that I’d found another patient, who had tried to get some work done that day, strung from the nearest electric pole, but I would have been lying. That was neither the case nor the atmosphere. There was no angry mob in scrubs waiting for me either. My fear of being the lone person responsible for the staff having to be there on that day was alleviated when I saw others sitting in the reception room, already queued up for their cleanings or tooth extractions or what is lawfully permitted and or commonly done in such an establishment.


“Huh?” I almost wanted to swagger up to the receptionist, just to prove to myself that I wasn’t a mouse, and dispel the fool that had been in me by way of my swaying chest, but I didn’t, reasoning that I’d probably have only appeared a bigger fool, as well as an obnoxious one at that, and so I just walked over like a bumpkin does, and gave my name to the receptionist. She smiled … that was another good sign.

Well, an hour later and it was done. Wearing over the roof of my mouth a crafted plastic insert, which one usually finds covering toys in their boxes, but I’m sure didn’t cost the toy manufacturer the $250 it cost me, I realized I’d survived the procedure, not experienced anyone’s vengeful anger, nor had my eyes sucked out. I was now on the other side of that non-existent nightmare and headed home in my car with a cheek full of gauze and nothing left to fear but fear itself … well that … and maybe the pureed turkey sandwich that was waiting for me at home.


Real: The switching and trying to switch appointment times and dates

Not Real: The over exuberance of carnage done to me, no really, the perio… gum doctor did a bang up job (I’d better say that; I have two more procedures to go.). Oh yeah, and his name was Dr. Finshiggle if you want to know. It really wasn’t, but if you believe that, I’m sure to be better off, thank you.

Roger McManus

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2 Responses to Gumming Up the Works

  1. Thomas says:

    Well done……………………….enjoyed reading your traumatization

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