Rambling on Dentists and Iraq

[author’s note: From our deployment to Iraq.]

September 19, 2010
One of the disadvantages of moving being overly mobile in Iraq is that I never use the same computer for long. Consequently there is some Rector’s Ramblings material that I’m not sure if I’ve written about before. This is one of those times, but as Fr. Foster used to say, “If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth repeating.” Last month I had a minor dental emergency in Balad. We were having our usual staff lunch when suddenly I thought I was eating gravel. Now some of the food can be challenging here, but on the whole it is quite good. I thought perhaps someone had left a cherry pit in what I was eating. That wouldn’t have been all that unusual, except that I was chewing on meat loaf. Sending my tongue on pie-hole patrol, it found a large gap where a large filling used to be, thus the gravel consistency of the meatloaf. My own dental expert in Grand Island was too far away. Naturally I preferred to go to him but it just wasn’t feasible (I don’t want to embarrass him so I’ll give him a fake name—Dr. David Jandaski). Instead I went to the nearby Air Force Dental Clinic for an afternoon of fun and frolic.
The dental officer was either Air Force or Army; you couldn’t tell due to the dental scrubs she was wearing. By her accent she was either from Japan or North Dakota, in any event I could barely understand her. Her dental assistant was from southern Alabama, from her accent somewhere in WAY SOUTH Alabama. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying either. Naturally their communication with each other consisted of a lot of “huhs?” I didn’t have a chance so just pretended I was at a Cathedral staff meeting (I don’t listen there either). Things seemed to be going fine until the middle of the procedure to refill the filling.
The dentist was saying something about “….put….amalgam….tooth…oops!” Oops is one of those words you don’t like to hear from your dentist, heart surgeon or proctologist. I felt something in the back of my throat and the dentist was chasing it with an instrument. I reflexively swallowed, and the dentist said, “You…..no swallow….!” Too late, whatever “amalgam” is was now in my food chain. Again the dentist brought more stuff to my mouth and I hear “Oh….not again….amalgam!” I felt something else floating around my throat but this time she retrieved it before I had a chance to swallow. A short time later the ordeal was over and the dentist and her assistant said good-bye, which soundly suspiciously like, “You…no…return…back!” Despite this, I still automatically trust all dentists. Trust is one of the themes of the Gospel. God has entrusted us with His blessings and how we use His blessings, from least to greatest, will determine if God will entrust us one day with eternal life in heaven.

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