Friday, 11 January 2013

an unsuccessful conclusion to an ongoing saga

I wish the weather would co-ordinate itself with the opening hours of the local tips (sorry, recycling centres). Yesterday when it was frosty I was all set to drive over to Manningtree to offload another load of bags of perennial weeds I won't have on the compost heap.  A trip to the tip is a good way of using the first hour of a frosty morning, and I needed to go to Manningtree because I'd promised to try and get concert posters put up in a couple of the local shops, that have notice boards where community events are advertised.  Then I thought to check the opening hours of the tip, and discovered that it didn't open on Thursdays.

Today it wasn't frosty.  The garden waste would have kept until another day, but since I still needed to go and put the posters up I had to go to Manningtree anyway.  I thought it diplomatic to buy something in both shops before asking about the posters, but fortunately the wholefood shop had my favoured brand of hand cream in stock, and I needed some milk and bread in the Co-op.  The drive to the tip is no further than the drive to the one at Clacton, but Manningtree is not my recycling centre of choice, since the access for cars is very tight, and the other drivers particularly doddery.  I always feel a sense of vague relief when I manage to leave without someone having accidentally reversed into my car.

I spent the rest of the day weeding the top of the big sloping bed in the back garden.  Initially I was watching while the Systems Administrator was out for a parcel van which was supposed to be bringing a part for the Ford transit, but it never came.  The part is a fan heater that will run off a twelve volt battery, which the Systems Administrator ordered to sit on the dashboard to de-mist the windscreen, in lieu of a working heater.  Having started in that part of the garden I stuck to it, even after the SA was back.

2012 was a great year for ants.  Not good for much else, but really good for ant colonies.  An area of pebble mulch had completely vanished under a fine silt of sand thrown up by burrowing ants.  Weed grasses had sown themselves into the sand, and as I pulled up the tufts of grass, their roots lifted with a great mass of sandy soil attached, suddenly exposing the pebble layer again.  I felt like an archaeologist uncovering a buried Roman pavement.  Brambles were advancing on that corner of the garden as well as the grass.  Gardening is a process of holding back encroaching nature.  Leave an area alone for a few months and it starts to look like the decaying ruins of central London in The Day of the Triffids.

The SA had to go out to visit the dentist, for the final, permanent filling.  I was expecting a triumphant return, tired but happy, after weeks of temporary fillings and toothache.  Instead a battered and irritated SA came to tell me bleakly that the tooth had had to come out after all.  It had split.  That would explain why it had been painful again in the last few days.  The dentist would not do the permanent filling until it had settled and was definitely not infected, and more than a fortnight after having the last root drilled out it was not supposed to still be hurting, so the SA was concerned about what was going on.  It is rather demoralising, after two sessions of root canal surgery and weeks of trying to remember to eat on only one side of the mouth and worrying about crumbling temporary fillings, to have lost the tooth anyway.  In the end it wouldn't have made any difference to have had it out in early December, and saved all the subsequent faff.

Having teeth out has become a more serious affair than in my youth.  I had four molars removed, in preparation for orthodontic work.  That was done under total anaesthetic administered by injection in the dentist's chair, something which is definitely not done nowadays (and several of my dentist's other patients did allegedly die in the chair).  Afterwards my mother took me home, and I don't remember any fuss being made about it.  The SA came back with strict instructions about the need to control bleeding, because otherwise infection might get into the bone.  Rest for the remainder of the day, preferably lie down, definitely no exercise or anything that might raise the blood pressure, no hot drinks.  I don't think that in my day anyone even mentioned the possibility of bone infection.

The dentist said, and the SA agreed, that it was right to try and conserve the tooth.  If it hadn't split the treatment would probably have worked.  One of my incisors was root-canal-filled around twenty-five years ago, and is still firmly stuck in my jaw.  I use it for eating every day  The dentist would have been quite happy if the SA's tooth had lasted even another five years, since the SA would have had the use of it in that time, and any replacement wouldn't have had to last as long.  The question now is whether the SA can manage happily without a replacement.  Most patients do, apparently.  The dentist is reluctant to fit a bridge and drill into the two neighbouring and perfectly healthy teeth, so the choices are a gap or an implant.  Let's hope the gap is comfy.

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