Wednesday morning I skipped early swimming as the Gas man was coming to service the boiler sometime between 8 and 12; arriving circa 1030 full of how he remembered coming to ‘well service ‘ me before. In fact it he was more specific than that. He did the call out when the snow resulted in the pipes freezing; he was the resourceful guy who stood on the windowsill to pour boiling water onto to the pipes to melt the ice. ‘Yes’ he said ‘I thought I recognised the address and then when I saw you and I remembered’! Sometimes being memorable isn’t desirable; Cruella on crutches in Barry with an accent more received pronunciation than South Wales somehow adds a drawing pin to that service call!
As you do we exchanged titbits about the boiler, the manufacturer and how he didn’t recommend stopping the service contract. I’d fastidiously cleaned the sink in the bathroom just to be sure; I would hate visitors to consider my standards were slipping, polishing the mixer tap so you can see the reflection in it is somehow a sign that the Spinster is in control! Before he got started he came down to ask if he could use the toilet; of course I said yes, followed by (twice) ‘make sure you put the seat down afterwards’ – my house, my toilet etiquette – he heard and wisely refrained from commenting.
On reflection the conversation lost its informal tone at that point! As the Spinster has got older the excuses made to save the perplexed looks of random strangers unable to grasp whether my father’s throw away comments are eccentric humour designed to provoke polite laughter have become necessary more often; heaven help me perhaps people already find themselves in the same position in response to me! Are middle age feminists – (between our founding mothers who fought the equality battle to our little sisters too young to appreciate how far we’ve come or indeed those of the younger generation who have found their own fire in their bellies) – so out of sink with contemporary society?
Now there are some places one shouldn’t fall asleep; some actions that require a person to be fully awake like operating heavy machinery or being in sole charge of young children, the kind of thing where a momentary lapse of attention could have serious consequences. After a long drive back to Cardiff the Spinster had an appointment at the Dental Hospital; this time with the regular dentist to whom I have been allocated by the Restorative Dentistry Consultant. Last time neither the Dentist nor the Consultant was there; one had omitted to remember my appointment and gone on holiday and the other off work on account of a broken arm. Neither absence ideal given I was there for a review of the work so far; as I was collected from the waiting area the nurse filled me in and reassuring said she’s got a lovely dentist lined up in his place!
And lovely she was indeed albeit reluctant to actually do anything that might not have been on the overall care plan. Given that the Spinster presented with a rather large hole in a rather large tooth one had hoped for some significant remedial treatment involving anaesthesia and needles. But neither was forthcoming with the dental equivalent of ‘No Nails’ being applied in industrial quantities to fill in the gaps. The second enthusiastic young Irish woman whose ambit I had temporarily fallen into; the kind of person one warms to and would happily see again but of course one seldom does.
Now a regular patient I judge the ‘success’ of the session on the degree of numbness; numbness is a familiar ironically reassuring feature in my life so no numbness equals a waste of the parking charge or it would do if my friend who usually takes me felt it necessary to buy a ticket. Oh the confidence to be even this little bit naughty! How did I end up with a full dose of compliance genes? I guess the thing about being hugely reliant on my car might have something to do with it but I’m right behind me mate for her deviant (none paying of parking ticket) behaviour!
Stand in Irish dentist’s parting assessment went like this; basically you are going to lose all the teeth on both sides as a result of the Fentanyl damage but the front teeth are pretty strong (adding in ‘and clean’ for good measure). So your smile won’t be affected; people won’t be able to tell so that’s positive! That’s the way I’d look at it if I were you!’ OK lady I can relate to that; or rather I did until one of my front incisors broke off – is there no one whose judgement I can have confidence in!
So after a 200 mile drive I find myself in one of the call centre style dental booths with my regular practitioner; this time the dentist is assisted by a tall slim Irish gentleman with a sense of humour. As always the gap between the dental assistant and the Spinster grows as the fit buggers yomp down the room; we always comment on the length of the walk but no one sees fit to work on me in a booth nearer the reception. I guess this is the dental equivalent of hot desking with everyone having a personal preference in terms of their work station.
As the bearded assistant makes conversation he settles me into dentist chair by putting my handbag and crutches just out of reach so as to remove any chance I might leg it. To get my attention the Irish lad repeatedly touches my shoulder as if to reassure me; to be honest the soft burr of his voice is quite sufficient. Besides which I can’t really feel that shoulder so feel free to stroke away, unless I happen to be looking in his direction, no offence will be caused!
During the procedure(s) the dentist and assistant exchange banter about the quality of supplies in private practice (where the dentist seems to spend at least some of his time) and the dental hospital. The Irish assistant is training to be a dentist rather than a dental nurse and at one point says ‘there’s the rub you said NHS and investment in the same sentence!’; was this aimed at the patient perhaps?
The dentist reviews the dental plan for today; with a hint of Kirsty Allsop’s ‘make do and mend’ he proposes to patch the most sensitive teeth (of the 4 that have broken since he last saw me) and refer me for extractions. Unlike the last consultation injections are central to the procedure today; a mere 4-5 big ones in the jaw joint and at the front by the time he’s finished I am convinced my bottom lip is huge – at least equivalent to being punched by Mike Tyson. But no a glance in the rear view mirror disappointingly reveals no swelling at all!
The restorative intervention takes about 45 minutes during which the Spinster is mortified to say a she has a couple – possibly three – naps! First couple of times I vaguely remember both of them gently saying ‘open your mouth’ as the slumber evidently resulted in a slackening of the jaw but no teeth marks – at least no punctures in their ‘not latex’ gloves. The final time one excelled oneself by giving a snore/snort so loud I woke myself up!
I couldn’t wait to get out of the Dental Hospital hardly waiting to get the referral letter for the next procedure. The third time the Spinster left without the prescription for super strength fluoride toothpaste which has apparently done its job as the decay hasn’t progressed! Hurrah not! Perverse logic warning: Fentanyl has already damaged all teeth on all four jaws; what ever these dental ‘magicians’ do ultimately all these teeth are going to fall out. So why not let them all fall out; no teeth to damage ergo carry on with the Fentanyl as at least it dulls the pain?
If you happen to bump into the Spinster please avoid provoking laughter or smirking as she’ll be practicing her ‘I’ve got no side teeth smile’ and the interim is likely to be painful for both parties!