“Now we’re just all waiting to die.”

So says, in jest, Miz S. If Dr. Seuss hadn’t died he could have followed up, Oh, The Places You’ll Go with Oh, the Hell of Old Age.

Your gums will recede and so will you hair, One day you’ll look and nothing is there.

At fifty your knees fold over themselves, And toes with fungus curl up like elves’.

You’ll lay awake at night with a curious thought: Will I see my privates come morn,  on the pot?

Or will they be hidden by a layer of fat, That can’t stand up : it sits on your lap.

Oh, the living of life, it surely is swell, But with growing older, there’s a glimpse of Hell.

At first it is small, inconsequential: Glasses, at fifty, become essential.

But then, near sixty, you wonder aloud: With or without them, is that white cat a cloud?

You would love to think this a short passing phase,

But no friend, it’s not: It’s the Hell of Old Age.


Okay, I just wrote that dribble in 5 minutes because I”m delirious from lack of sleep. Makes me think Seuss was less smart and more just goofy delirious. Anybody out there want to do the illustrations? 

So, yesterday afternoon I had my first root canal at 5 pm, after splitting a molar right smack in two Monday evening, depth-wise and stage one is complete. Other than being off my sleep schedule from the two previous nights of pain, I’m quite comfortable thank you. And to all of you who have had root canals in the past: THANKS A LOT FOR THE F-ING WARNING. I could have spent Tuesday on the southside trying to score some Ecstasy.

Do you remember when I did this very same thing around Thanksgiving last year on the other side of my mouth and after numerous expensive cab rides around the glitzy part of downtown Chicago (believe me, it takes a lot for me to lie down in the back of a filthy cab and moan; I never sit on public toilet seats)? Anyway, the dentist took one look and shook his head, packed me in the back of  a cab. The endodontist took one look and packed me in the back of a cab. (Each humming the sweet sounds of “Ka-ching, you’re buying my bling!”) and then the oral surgeon semi-knocked me out, climbed in my lap and wrestled with my tooth for about two hours before he got it out, put in a donor bone transplant and sent me home in a cab, muttering, not humming, “ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.” He subsequently told me in a somewhat defensive tone, after I said I had dined on Jane Doe’s bone graft for Christmas dinner and what were we going to do about that little 2,000. failure?, that it was the single hardest extraction he had ever had in 35 years of practice.

So, down here in St. Pete, I LOVE my new dentist. She is a sole practitioner a little older than me, but youthful, and she is kind and practical and has common sense. And she only charged me 85.00 for a lengthy consultation and x-rays and some valium before she packed me off to the root canal guy. I’m so dental phobic. He was very nice, a handsome and charming fellow from Puerto Rico, who just sort of ignored my twitching, whimpering and refusal to open my mouth until the valium kicked in. He had a lovely assistant and although I couldn’t take part in the conversation they chatted and kept me informed. Who knew they could build an entire construction site in your mouth and on your chest? And what about people like Dolly Pardon? Instruments must just roll away and get lost.

The big question was whether they could save the tooth and he wouldn’t know until he anesthesized  my mouth (this is the part you could have warned me about) and pulled out the wobbly back part of the tooth to see the root. Then they got my dentist on a conference call right there in the room and discussed my options: extract the tooth or try to save the tooth with an additional trip a periodontist and then the crown. I guess periodontist is a euphemism for “the guy who slices open your gums and raises your jaw bone so they can place a post for a crown.”  Saving the tooth, with three specialists, would come to almost 3,000. at Florida prices (down from 6,000. in Chicago. Seriously. I kid you not) but hey! I was mellowed out on valium and what’s another 2 grand after insurance makes their minor contribution, in the greater scheme of things? No more expensive failed bone grafts for me. I nodded yes, Iwant my tooth. So, he worked on my tooth for over 2 hours and the three comments of note made during the procedure: “I have NEVER seen such long roots so deeply imbeded in jaw bone. This would be a good article for the ADA journal.Let’s take several more x-rays.” “It is really good news that you have such strong roots and bone and no infection whatsoever. This is the ideal tooth to save.” And a muttered aside to his assistant “I would pay a colleague out of my own pocket before I would extract one of her teeth.” So, root canal was better than extraction.

You know, life serves you lemon, make lemonade. (Okay, Sparky. Now you can comment: “OMG! Oh the drama! Every day the drama! OMG!”)


Really, all is well here. I’m no longer in pain and I am hopeful about the tooth. Rich is conspicuously absent for all these events, not because he doesn’t love me, but because he has been busy busy busy at work (you know, the Anheiser-Busch/InBev take over is keeping hundreds busy, full time. And the NFL and MLB and NCAA… But the main thing is THE BOOK. Rich’s book is going to publication now and there is a web page up that I will link to in the next week or so so you can all visit and comment. It’s a good and very important first book . I say that because Rich is still honing his friendly writing skills because he’s a professional statistician and strategy planner so the writing is GOOD and the content is GREAT and important. Also, he has another one in the hopper. I have this nagging feeling he’s hoping I’ll do some writing on the web page, speaking to the theme of  the book which is the need for more simple community in this country. I already have a link to Kimberle’s new web effort on community for military families and, of course, there is no end to the woolly communities…Anyway, he’s not around and he thinks Hallmark Cards are schmaltzy ( and he does indeed find the really schmaltzy ones while my girlfriends, esp. Judy, find hysterically funny and truly loving cards. Go figure.) and I miss him. A lot. Those 10 days of time together flew right by.

The only picture I have for you today is this little felt vase I made for my sister. For the past couple years my sister  relationhips, for better and worse, have sort of been in orbit around Bud and Lost Loon Lodge. He, of course, doesn’t want us to worry about him, but, heck, he’s 81 years old, widowed and sitting in over 300 inches of snowfall thus far this year, out on the edge of nowhere. With a very very long wooded private drive, no close stores or neighbors, health care an hour or four away, depending on which doctor he’s pissed with at the moment. You think of all the worry possibilities in that situation. And, even more, he’s our Buddy and we miss him. He’ll be down in the next 10 days so you’ll be hearing all about that.

So sister/brother stuff revolves a lot around who can get up to visit him, who is more or less worried about him (I usually win this prize by doing it in a way that is extremely annoying to my sisters in the form of “Do something! Do something!” when their plates are full and there’s not a lot to do anyway) and we don’t visit much in non-Bud related ways. I got my gifts shipped to the UP for Christmas because they were there and we were here and then Betsy’s box didn’t arrive here until five days ago. Which was absolutely perfect. PERFECT. Christmas was comfortably paltry around here after the mad dash down and I ended up with a tiny but useful and lovely pile of soap, calendar, note cards from Abby, a gift card for a manicure for Melissa and a Lowes gift card from Rich. I know. He has many redeeming qualities and, as previously noted, I’m really missing him right now. Anyway, Betsy sent a gorgeous framed antique hand colored etching of the Resplendent Trogan, an exotic bird we have started calling the Resplendent Trojan. She sent two small knitting books, each in their own way the best I’ve ever gotten and I’ll tell you more about those in a few days. She sent Gramma Moe’s chocolate cookie press cookies in a tin and because I was helping Rich in his new adaptations to type-2 diabetes, I had to eat them all myself, immediately. From the hidden place in my night table. Before my tooth broke. And she sent something Bonnie and Big Dave will surely remember: Saunders Bittersweet Hot Fudge ice cream topping. It is not actually meant to top anything since Saunders went out of the bakery-soda fountain business and you can no longer get Hot Fudge Cream Puffs. Now you merely eat it by the spoon full from the jar. And I’m telling you, it’s just the right thing for a tooth ache.

When Betsy sends gifts she wraps them in beautiful papers with beautiful ribbons and strings. Weird textured, wonderfully colored papers and not your run of the mill tie-ups. This year she used strips of what is probably cheap red and green netting from Joanns. But the green color was so perfect for spring and she is such a change of seasons person and they both garden up there in Kalamazoozoozoo so I turned around and felted the green net into this little project. It has fine merino, mulberry silk color accents, her netting and little freshwater pearls and it’s just the right size to disguise a small canning jar for water. I call it “seeds and sprouts” because it looks just like that to me.

So that’s the news from here and now that the sun is up and I haven’t slept all night I might as well mosey over to the post office to mail out this vase and a REALLY NICE CARD to my husband for Valentine’s Day. 




15 responses to ““Now we’re just all waiting to die.”

  1. Okay. Poor you. I dread the dentist too but you are reminding me that putting off making those appointments will not do me any favors and besides it’s just what my mom would do and uh I can’t be her. 🙂 Hope you are feeling better and can take comfort in being my cautionary tale. 🙂

    That vase is amazing and the ferns in it add just the right touch.

    You are inspiring me creativity, too which isn’t as useful since I have no freakin’ time to take even a deep breath much less create art or write or any of that jazz.

    Hey, maybe unemployment will be a good thing. I can be CREATIVE! Hungry and homeless but creative! It’s a plan!

  2. I love your Dr. Seuss poem. You captured the full gravity of aging.

    I hope your mouth is feeling better today. I have also wondered what the dentist would do without my chest to place all of those instruments. Sometimes, when I am having my teeth clean, I imagine that we are all very happy chimps, and that day is my turn to be groomed.

    Your felt vase is really very, very cool.

  3. Oh dear.

    Who would/could warn you? Even if we had it wouldn’t have been enough! My warning would have been nothing compared to what you went through. Gah! So sorry.

    Robin – full gravity. *snort*

    I too, loved the poem. Going to copy/paste it off to several friends. You remember Marge, don’t you? She will love it, especially.

    Would April be okay?

  4. Your Dr.Seuss poem is fantastic!Why do dentists act so sympathetic,while they’re draining your wallet?

  5. I hate the dentist and tell him so on a regular basis to which he smiles and nods in a bemused sort of way. So sorry that the root canal was so tramautic, but get to know that oral surgeon well because he has marvelous connections. I have decided to have your poem read at my funeral which I hope is not too soon, but if my boss does not keep giving me huge, rushed assignments, I may be looking forward it.

  6. PS Vase is outstanding!

  7. The poem is outstanding and perfectly describes this stage of life.

    I remember my first root canal. I was so relieved to be done with the pain of the toothache that I was ready for it. After my fourth one, I asked the endodontist if four on one patients was a common thing, and he said that generally one or two usually did it.

    I’m so glad you have found someone that you like in St. Pete…

    The felt is lovely. You are indeed a woman of many talents.

  8. “Will I see my privates come morn, on the pot?

    Or will they be hidden by a layer of fat, That can’t stand up : it sits on your lap.”

    Since when have you been hanging out in my bathroom???

    I suppose I could have warned you about the root canal, but I didn’t want to scare you away. My dentist once told me I had teeth roots from hell (the lower ones go down an inch and then curl back upwards). Having no dental insurance, I am faced with doing something to save a tooth or implant one in the hole. I think I will have to choose a partial plate or something. Oh, joy.

    Love the vase.

  9. I think you should make a book out of it, or at least a song. If I could draw, I would illustrate it. I feel your pain. OUCH on that tooth. My biggest dental adventure is getting my front veneer re-done. It’s a barrel of “laughs.” Speaking of laughs, I’m giggling at the Possibly related posts(automatically generated)–Mama has a huge behind. I may have to go read it…

  10. Not many people can make a toothache funny, Vicki, but you had me ROFL. Of course, it’s partly funny because (this is important) IT’S NOT MY TOOTH. Yes, I feel better now.

    Love the vase. Love the poem. Am off to send poem to BFF who will also ROFL. Also off to shower to drown my inner teenager.

  11. I LOVED Saunders hot fudge cream puff sundaes, the only good reason to go to Briarwood when I was a kid. I had one last summer at a little ice cream parlor in Birmingham. It was wonderful. I really miss Saunders.

  12. PS For a small fee, we can send Rich to present re-education camp. It’s well worth the investment.

  13. Oh, c’mon. I had my first root canal done about a month ago and it wasn’t that big a deal. I don’t even remember them administering pain killers. I’m pretty tough that way. If they prescribed any valium, I saved it for the plane trip. That was much more harrowing.

  14. admire your Bud – my dad could hardly boil a kettle now, if he could remember where and what a kettle was.

    think yourself lucky!!

  15. I had a root canal at 12 that was essentially given without meds. I was awake as the nerve was dug out with needles.
    Dentists still scare me more than any wild thing.
    At 18 a second root canal was a nebutal dream fest with no pain that I remember.
    Science marches on.

    Hope you feel better soon.

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