Mary automatically smiles. Irrespective and everybody smiles back. Even Jessica likes her. Two days ago she came in for a routine exam. We talked about a few things and I told her everything looked good, she was doing a fantastic job and there was no need for any treatment. She smiled, thanked me and rang up the next day to say that a tooth had broken. To me this is embarrassing. Not to her. Perhaps this is why I like her.
Years ago I asked her, "How's your husband?"
She burst into tears, sobbing hysterically and managed to squirt out, "He left me."
I sat there squirming, fidgeting and looking at the clock. Half an hour wasted. I could see the goldfish laughing at me.
Today she wants to talk about her daughter.
She asks me, "Could you please talk to my daughter? She says she wants to be a dentist. She's obsessed about her teeth. Can you talk to her?"
"Sure no problem."
And then she continued," and tell her that being a dentist is a terrible job, and that she should do something else."
"No I can't do that."
She looks puzzled and confused and hurt. After a couple of moments thought, she surfaces, forgives me and says," Oh I suppose not."
Beryl is peripatetic; endlessly moving between reception and the surgery. Wherever the action is. As soon as Mary leaves the surgery, Beryl sees an opening and approaches me. She always has something to tell me. This time she says, "Mrs Parker rang up and she says, 'what a good job you did yesterday and she didn't even feel the injection.'"
"That's not enough information. Give me a clue."
Beryl doesn't. She is on the move. Walking away from me and shrugging her shoulders in disgust.
The next man lies in the chair. His phone awakes with the sound of a horse neighing. The man squirms and says, "My children did that." The second time we hear from the horse he is not as embarrassed. By the third and forth time we ignore it. When he leaves Jessica snorts, "We need a sign about these phones. We have to train these people." The goldfish laugh. They know nothing is going to change.
A lady rings Beryl, "The filling is still painful when I bite. It's already been fixed once. Still sore. Can't get time off. These people I work for are bastards. Shit. Shit. I'm only a single mum. Now I've got an aching tooth as well. I work for complete morons. The teacher says my son needs extra work in maths. What are you going to do about it?" She is talking faster, louder and shriller. Beryl makes her an appointment for the Friday after next and then comes and tells me about it.
An old friend comes in to have her teeth cleaned. I have been seeing her irregularly for years. She has sent her son and other friends to see me. The routine is for us to talk about her work and once again I do this. She says that she is no longer working. She has just had a heart attack. While she is saying this she gets out a sheet of paper with her medications listed. She looks reasonable well. Not like some people who when they begin chronic medications age decades within years.
When cleaning her teeth I see that she still smokes.
"Are you still smoking?"
"I'm cutting down."
I've had enough of this nonsense. Her gums are a disaster. The teeth should have been taken out years ago. This routine cleaning of teeth is a complete waste of time. And she still smokes.
After cleaning her teeth she prepares to hurry out. I prevent this by placing my chair in front of her. I sit facing her and say, ''I'm a bit worried about your gums."
She looks stunned. Where did this come from? I don't want this aggro. She looks irritated. Desperate to leave.
"These medications you are on…some of them can have a very bad effect on the gums…I don't think some of these teeth are going to make it…if we are talking five to ten years then I doubt…"
She gazes into the distance, "I'll be dead by then".
"Don't say that, look at it this way, at the moment we have two options. Take out all the teeth and have dentures or keep going the way we are going.
"I'll be dead in ten years."
She walks out, leaving me staring at an empty chair.
Jessica says, "Ah well, that went well."
I can hear the goldfish. They are saying, "You don't have to be that sarcastic."
This blog is the fictional story of a dentist. The dentist works with Jessica and Beryl in a town a lot like Hobart. The blog tells the story of what these people get up to and the work that they do. If you feel that you recognize yourself in one of the stories please remember it is fictional and the characters and stories are all fictional. Though all the stories are based on my time as a dentist in Hobart and are based on things which actually did happen.