EXPERIENCE AS A FLASHLIGHT: There I sat in the oral surgeon’s chair waiting for his third attempt to clean out a decayed root canal so the pain in the tooth would go away. On the first two attempts all the grinding and drilling had failed to remove the source of a constant ache. I knew what was coming after the child’s bib was placed around my neck. He was going to numb my jaw with a shot that sometimes hit a nerve and splattered pain as fast as lightning. This was not my idea of a fun morning. The fact that it was my third time in the chair in the last few months for the same tooth made it really tiresome.
Years earlier every dentist had told me “be sure to brush and floss your teeth.” He and she had even given me a little kit with a small tooth brush, flossing device and tooth paste to encourage me. It didn’t seem convenient at the time and I had a certain notion that my teeth would be ok if I just left them alone and went about my life. Besides, who knew how to keep the string from sliding out of your fingers? I could never get them to work as easily as the dental hygienist could. The only time I flossed was a few weeks before my yearly checkup and whenever my gums started hurting. I expected everything in my body would continue working as it always had. I never envisioned an office that specialized in drilling out decayed canals deep inside my gums!
Meanwhile, in my retirement, I enjoy casually walking around campus hearing the sounds and watching the antics of the students while my college pals ride golf carts to get to our football seats. They have to ride because the walk is too much for some of them, due to illness or physical condition. I can’t be sure, but I believe the exercise has made the difference in my abilities.
Years earlier my wife had suggested I begin a program of regular exercise. I decided to take her up on it. I enrolled in a fitness club and worked out on machines and in the aerobics classes. Things I used to do with ease I could finally do again without straining. At first I resented the fact that I had to jump start my body like a car battery, but finally it dawned on me that at least I could get it started.
The years have slipped by and the blocks of experiences have been pieced together into the shape I now have as a senior.
The block of oral hygiene, I ignored and so it has a big dollar sign over a man holding an oversized hypodermic needle who wears a surgical gown and says “next” to me with a grin on his face . The block of physical condition has a picture of me walking somewhere in the country.
Despite the regular visits to the dentist, I still maintain my sense of humor even if it is at my own expense. To prove it, I am including a quote from Charles Schulz (American cartoonist, 1922-2000) who wrote in his Peanuts cartoon. “Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’”