Monday, September 8, 2008

The Tooth Fairy Bites

I have a new goal in life. This is a good, positive thing and I’m glad to have this goal. Well, to be honest there are two goals, now that I think about it. The first goal is to enjoy a good steak again some day. That would be stellar. The second goal is to simply yawn with abandon and let it be a relaxing thing, rather than a touchy painfully embarrassing thing.

Why, you may ask, are these simple goals at the forefront of my thinking? Because I had the dreaded teeth thing happen a couple weeks ago. I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll never take a good comfortable chew for granted ever again.

I’d had multiple teeth removed a few years back, but I don’t recall it being a really big deal. Maybe it was, I don’t know. Maybe my memory has become selective. I know we don’t remember pain. What we remember is the fear the pain brought. I do remember some fear during the last go-round. But this time I said good-bye to nine teeth in one sitting, or reclining, if you will. I have to hand it to my dentist. She stayed with it and stayed calm, even when it became apparent that these teeth would not go gentle into that good night. It was exhausting for me, I know that.

To complicate matters, I developed an serious infection a few days later and am still taking some killer antibiotics. I believe that I’ve had this infection for a year or more and the trauma to my gums, jaw, and psyche gave it an opportunity to explode. Not fun. But it’s well-in-hand as I type and a low-level irritation in my right ear that I’ve been suspicious of is clearing up too. I had two docs look in there with the standard ear-canal-viewing tool and tell me there was nothing going on. I didn’t really believe them then and now I’m positive they just overlooked a low-grade infection.

What I’m experiencing here is a rite-of-passage into, um, mature life. I’ll just go with that euphemism I think. I don’t feel like an old guy. And really I’m not. I’m only 58. If this were 1908 I’d be old, I guess, but this is 2008 and people are starting to commonly live into their 90s and beyond. My dad just turned 91 and he and my mom are still living on their own, taking care of themselves and are enjoying their friends and neighbors. I’m sure they don’t feel particularly ancient. Oh sure, sometimes we all do, but the cliché is really true: You Are Only As Old As You Feel. How you treat yourself and your genetic make-up collaborate to give you what you get.

I find this transition fascinating, watching my body change, watching myself develop patience I didn’t know I had. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll even learn to cut myself some slack. I’m also beginning to see my children look at me with newly-realized respect and also with a trace of worry because I am changing. I am showing signs of aging. But I’m learning so much. The engine is still running like a champ and I learn something cool every day.

I am a blessed man. Thanks for listening.