jayellebee's Blog

February 13, 2011


Filed under: Musings — Joanne @ 3:25 pm

     A little  background.  Ken is a retired dentist and I worked in his office at the front desk.  I greeted patients, made appointments, posted charges, filed insurance claims . . . .  Most of Ken’s patients didn’t know I was his wife.  I called him Dr. Brown in the office, he called me Joanne.  I was just “one of the girls.” 

     Ken is gifted with extraordinarily gentle hands and remarkable eye-hand coordination.  He is also a detail-oriented perfectionist.  Exactly the attributes you want in a dentist.  He excelled in putting patients at ease, giving painless injections, and creating crowns, bridges, partial and full dentures.  His patients loved him and he formed decades-long friendships with many of them.

     Al was one of our favorite patients.  An older gentleman physically resembling the character actor, Keenan Wynn.  He always had an immediate visceral impact on me.  The door to the reception room would open, I’d see his smiling face, and my skin tone would flush to a near-neon red in anticipation of the fun ahead.  He called me B.B., for Blushing Brown.  Al always joked around, laughing, good for a quick jump-start to the day.  I doubt he had a serious bone in his head.

     Sadly, dementia visited this delightful man.  Al broke a tooth and needed a crown soon after his decline began.  The process involves (or at least this is how it worked a number of years ago in Ken’s office) an initial appointment where the broken or decayed tooth is reduced in size to accommodate the crown.  Impressions are taken, models are sent to the lab, and two weeks later the patient returns to have the new crown cemented in place.   The cement dentists use is long-lasting, so the crown’s fit is always tested before the cement is applied.  Al’s crown fit so snuggly — a good thing — Ken had to work at removing it to place the cement.  When the crown popped off, instead of being held by Ken’s pointy dental instrument, it landed on the back of Al’s tongue.

     Ken always talked his patients through each procedure.  “Don’t swallow, Al,” he warned.

     Al, exhibiting his typical jocular style of response, made a big show of being surprised, then swallowed.  His brand new, sparkling gold crown went down the chute to a place where crowns were never meant to be.

     I got to sleep with the boss, but I also ended up with a few of the less desirable duties.  I don’t remember this being in my job description, but it fell to me to explain to goofy old Al how he could retrieve his crown in the next day or two – once nature took her course.  I tried the coy, indirect approach.  He rewarded me with a blank stare.  I tried the politically correct, implied action approach.  He didn’t get it.  Oh, what the heck. 

     “Al, you’re going to have to sift through your poop if you want to find that crown.”

     “You’re kidding me,” he said, eyebrows wrinkling bald head.  “Right?”

     The lab fabricated a replacement crown.

     This story occurred to me a few days ago, right after I realized I’d swallowed one of my gold crowns.  Amazing what one thinks of while bent over the toilet wearing latex gloves:

     1) Thank goodness fresh corn isn’t in season.

     2)  This gives the phrase “mining for gold” a whole new meaning.

     3) If I had to walk through a metal detector right now, would I set off the alarm?  And if I did, how invasive would THAT pat-down be?

     4)  If I find this thing, I’ll have to throw the pot away after I boil it!

     5)  How much does a haz-mat suit cost?

     6)  If this thing finds its way back in my mouth, will that mean I have a #%*! eating grin?

     Excuse me.  I have to go eat a few more prunes.



  1. Hilarious!! Hope you hit the Mother Lode….


    Comment by Ann Damaschino — February 13, 2011 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  2. Joanne, this is hilarious! I loved every wonderful word of it! You go girl! And when I stop laughing, I’m going to check to make sure all my crowns are on tight!


    Comment by Bee Hylinski — February 14, 2011 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  3. Oh my gosh, this made me laugh! I found your blog on the CWC Member’s website…and it was worth it.


    Comment by Raising Marshmallows — February 15, 2011 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  4. So funny when it happens to someone else! I can’t think of anything clever, so I hope everything is back where it belongs.

    Comment by Donna — February 15, 2011 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  5. Joanne, I think I will laugh all day and imagine the stories (his and yours) popping into my head at odd moments. So well told. So tender and loving.

    Comment by Jean G — February 16, 2011 @ 12:23 pm | Reply

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