I found out today that I’m going to get an implant….and I can’t believe it. And I find out about this on the 13th anniversary of being ordained as a Priest and I was not a happy camper. The dentist looked at me and told me that the root canal which I had come in to complete would not be possible. This kind of pissed me off, not at him but for the fact that I knew that this was going to happen. Going in to today I knew from the first dentist who examined me two weeks ago that there was only a fifty-fifty chance of saving the tooth, but only a ten percent chance of that. So when the dentist showed me the live camera images of the abyss that used to be the inside of my tooth and the fractures on both sides of the abyss I was not surprised. Not happy, but not surprised. Of course I was hoping and praying that the root canal would be done with and that I would not see dental again until my next exam.
As his team dug around in my mouth the dentist told me that they were going to have to set me up with Oral Surgery to extract the tooth and put an implant in its place. Since my mouth was still full of crap I had difficult time trying to reply. The crap included a rubber dam and its suspension system. I was informed that this was to keep crap out of the abyss and keep it from getting infected. The dentist didn’t say crap, but that is what I inferred. I also had a butt-load of anesthetic aboard. When he asked me the question: “Are you familiar with what an implant is?” I mumbled an unintelligible answer that went something like “yam eh ike marl hmmmn wah” And I kind of motioned over my chest with my hands to try to give as visual but my attempt at communication failed. He said, I’ll wait until we’re done for you to answer and I said “thang u er.” Since my woeful attempt at communication was not understood so I relaxed as best I could for the remainder of the procedure.
When they were finished the resident had sealed the abyss, removed the dam and washed out my mouth. My mouth, which still hurt some from the work two weeks ago, and the tooth which still had some throbbing as a bit of nerve had survived the first go round caused me some persistent pain even through this morning. This particular tooth had been repaired twice as a child, the first by Doctor Mengele and once as an adult before it erupted two weeks ago. Now after being excavated for the second time in two weeks my mouth felt like a battle zone even with the full effect of the anesthetic.
The dentist then asked about if I understood what an implant was and in my smart assed way said, “Yes, it’s like those things that they put in Mariel Hemingway back in the 1980s right?” The dentist looked at me funny and then, maybe being just a bit older than me then shook his head and started laughing and said “No not that kind of implant.” The resident and the technician being a bit younger than us took a bit longer to get it, and the dentist said, “I saw you motioning with your hands but just didn’t understand the connection.
So I will be getting an artificial root for the old tooth which will be surgically removed possibly under a general anesthetic. I wonder which is worse, enduring a great deal of pain or going under as I am a fan of neither. They say it will take 6-9 months to have the artificial root to be fused into the jaw bone, after which a new crown will be constructed over it. I’m told that the entire process will take about a year to complete. I get my consultation with the Oral Surgeons the middle of August so this story will probably go on in future blog posts in the coming months.
Today is also the 13th anniversary of me being ordained as a Priest at what used to be the Cathedral of the Resurrection, Life in Jesus Community when it was part of my Church. I am ever grateful to the bishop who ordained me back then, in those days he was a teacher and father. We parted ways when he led his community out of the Church after having his Archdeacon tell me that he was not leaving as the Church experienced a major crisis. While his leaving bothered me it was the deception that I found most difficult and combined with actions of two other former bishops in the church which impacted me in a very personal and hurtful manner which ended our relationship. Since he left I understand that he was removed from the leadership of his community and that the community was not doing well. That saddened me as back in the mid and late 1990s it was a wonderful place where the ancient and modern converged, where hospitality and kindness was shown and people were blessed. I do not know what happened over the years, but it is sad as I cannot go back to the place where I was ordained and have it be the same. When the bishop’s council on ordination recommended that I be ordained I was told by one of the priests said “Steve, you’re home.” Unfortunately only one of that council remains in the church, and that community is no longer home.
Christmas Eve in Iraq
Since then I have been blessed. I was ordained on the evening of July 7th the eve of the Feast of Saint Killian and his companions, an Irish missionary to what is now the German area of Franconia where at Würzburg he was martyred in 689 AD. It was just a few weeks later as a mobilized Army Reserve Chaplain I reported to Würzburg to support the Bosnia operation in my first assignment as a Priest. I lived in town as there was “no room at the inn” on base and since I spoke German I would head downtown in the evenings for Mass at the Killian Dom (Killian Cathedral) as well as visits to many of the other churches. I found it interesting that the occasion of my ordination was the eve of feast of the man responsible for planting the Christian faith in the first place I would serve as a Priest. I feel quite a connection to St Killian as a result of this and whenever I go to Germany I attempt to attend a Mass at the Killian Dom as well as a few steins of Würzburger Hofbrau Pilsner.
Killian Dom Wurzburg Germany
Since then I have celebrated the Eucharist and served God’s people around the world in places that I would have never dreamed. My first Eucharist at sea was on the USS Frederick LST-1184 on Easter 2001, the same ship that in high school Navy Junior ROTC I first felt the call to be a chaplain in March of 1978. I’ve celebrated near the fence line at Guantanamo Bay, all over Al Anbar Province, been a base chaplain and served in units and at sea all over the world. I celebrated my 7th anniversary celebrating at the ruins of the Martyr Church of Saint Phillip the Apostle in Pamukale Turkey, the site of Ancient Hierapolis.
Today for the first time I spent it in a dentist’s chair. So my mouth feels like a bombed out combat zone, I have the shattered shell of a tooth being held together by a temporary patch and praying that it won’t come apart before it is extricated and I have to wait over a month to just begin talking about the details of how process will unfold with the Oral Surgeon who will perform it. Tonight I will try to eat something soft so as not to tempt fate, drink a good beer or two or three and get ready for work tomorrow.
Pray for me a sinner.