Tooth of the Tale

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. July 2019

Although Chris and I look forward to the Seventeen51 Restaurant soup and salad bar offered two Saturdays each month, one particular supper was a challenge! After serving ourselves and thanking God, I pierced a nice, cold red tomato and piece of crisp Romaine. Oh no! It crunched back at me with a do-not-eat warning!

“Chris, did you hear that?”

“Yes, it sounded like you bit on a piece of glass! Don’t swallow it. Here, put it in this soup spoon.”

We stared at each other, then over to the big portable table of about two dozen fresh compartments containing ice cold, bright colors of bite-sized veggies, meats, turkey, chicken, strawberries, grated cheeses, mushrooms, dried cranberries, croutons, juicy mandarin oranges, candied walnuts…

Our eyeballs bounced back and forth…salad bar, our full plates, salad bar, plates…

Was it just one piece of glass or were there more?

My tongue wiggled curiously.

CHRIS! I BROKE MY TOOTH. The upper back tooth has a vacancy!”

My thoughts raced. When would I have time to take off for the dentist? I have all these projects with deadlines since I was ill. Lord, it’s up to You. This is a long holiday weekend, too.

But Sunday, the impossible happened!

I prepared my huge made-from-scratch enchiladas and at the first bite…same sounding crunch, only this time, a shiny pea-sized souvenir appeared on my favorite enchilada-eating round spoon.

“Chris, what are the odds? Another tooth!! I can’t call the dentist till Tuesday, and they’ll be soo busy.”

Early Monday, I called the dentist to leave a message and get first whack at an appointment for Tuesday. But—I tell you the tooth—the office was open for business and yes, “We are swamped today, but let me see what we can do.” 

Oh, Lord, thanks for your help. You always come through for me.

“Mary Jo, can you come in at 11:40 today?”

“Are you kidding? Yes, that will be perfect!!”

It was drizzling and windy outside (otherwise I would have walked), but I dialed 7725 to reserve a Resident Transit ride for the two blocks.

“You’re our first caller, Mary Jo! The driver can pick you up at 11:30.”

I arrived five minutes early.

The assistant took a picture of  my upper right and the lower left teeth. “Doctor will be with you shortly.”

I asked the assistant, “Can you tell me how serious it is? And how long you think it might take?”

“Well, the caps are both cracked…maybe two…or two-and-a-half hours.”

I tried to catch up with my racing thoughts…another appointment? Maybe two? I’ve lost time already today.

In the reclining chair, I stared at the ceiling trying to review the next several week’s activities and possible lengthy “free” times to return for another appointment. I want to be sure I play piano in Assisted Living, in the Convalescent & Rehabilitation Center for Happy Hour, Gentle Care, and Monday chapel service. Oh, and that lecture, and the two great movies in Panorama Auditorium. I’m thinking about signing up for the Panorama bus to that performance in Seattle. I’d like to walk that campus tree tour. And Chris and I never miss the live resident plays! There’s one coming up soon, and…

At that last thought, Doctor E greeted me. “Mary Jo, let’s check you out.”

She took a few minutes look and immediately flipped off the light!

Thoughts overlapped thoughts. Oh dear! Must be bad news. No hope. Extractions? No dental insurance. How much will this cost?

“Mary Jo, you have parts of two aged porcelain caps that have been broken off. The fillings are still great. If we just file off the rough edges, you will be fine. If you’re happy with that?”

She took a total of about 6 minutes to do the job. Thrilled with the fee, and another Resident Transit ride, I was home within the hour, thanks to our on-campus dentist office! More Panorama blessings! This is not a tale…I tell you the TOOTH! 

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