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If I had a new dog I would call him Russ. (As in ‘this man’s new best friend’ Russ).

Sorry Tez, Curtis, Jim, Keith … but for the past week or so my new best friend is Russ – which is bizarre for me to say because Russ is a dentist. I have a long, lousy relationship with dentists. Most of the time I find them a pain.

Suggesting a dentist and I are best friends is equivalent to suggesting that Donald Trump is rational and safe. Odds are highly unlikely.

Regardless, Russ has earned the right.

Anyone who is my Facebook ‘friend’ will know 2017 has hit the Hodge House like a bad luck tornado, showing little mercy and a lot of carnage – not to mention the bills such disasters carry.

On January 2 we awoke to 11 degree weather inside after our gas furnace completely quit. Within a few days we’d had a couple of other major problems including borrowing a heater to warm up the house only to blow some electrical circuits which resulted in three days of work involving  rewiring, tracing the sources etcetera. Then a minor but mysterious issue left us without any hot water for two days.

All of that occurred while trying to refinish the bathroom downstairs so we could rent the basement suite for Jan. 15. That date has come and gone and we will be lucky to be ready for Feb.1

Because of the unexpected expenses with the furnace etc I cancelled my dentist appointment to fix a busted off tooth in the back of my mouth. That was a no-no which I will never repeat. (I am sure you can see where this is going). Three days later I awoke to a swollen mouth and a tooth that was screaming abusive things at me.

My dentist was booked for three days. By the time I could see him my face looked like I had played catch with Mohamed Ali for a few hours. In fact I was now too swollen and infected for his skills so he wisely sent me to oral surgeon Russell Naito at Okanagan Oral Surgery.

Russ took one look, rolled his eyeballs in dismay, and set to work.

I never thought I’d be happy to see a dentist or beg for a needle. With the offending tooth removed and a number of stitches in place I went home. However the war in my mouth was apparently not over. Bundles of antibiotics, T3s, Ibuprofens and ice and I was back in the chair five days later (yesterday).  Clearly the infection and nerve damage wanted another scrap and Russ was armed and ready.

Along with the world’s friendliest and smartest dental assistant Kathy and a team of top shelf folks, round two appears to have gone our way. Russell cut open a couple inches of the inner jaw area, put in a drain tube for the poison to escape, and took two more teeth as victims of war.

If today’s column has more typos or errors than normal I blame it on the meds since it is only 14 hours since the last stitch was put in place and I am pretty much bouncing off the wall.

Only time will tell if I am finally done with this nastier than nasty interruption in my world, but I do know that without Russell’s skilled touch and calm demeanor and Kathy’s knowledge and human interaction the last 10 days would have been even nastier. The limit of pain inflicted on their part and no-nonsense get the job approach has been tremendous, and with no great exaggeration perhaps life saving.

Throughout it all Tez has been a solid arm, doing literally everything including putting up with my moaning, groaning, and grouchy complaining.

While thrashing around the past week dealing with the pain of busted teeth, abscesses, infection… I have pondered how centuries ago people handled life without dentists.

Infected teeth are no fun and certainly a health threat. For that I am so thankful for when and where I live, and for the skills of folks such as Russ and Kathy.

Now then, where is my kitty and the T3’s?

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, and current Kelowna City Councillor. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge has also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 34 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on his third hockey book, as well as a historical/fiction novel. Charlie is proprietor of Hodge Communications based in Kelowna, B.C. Charlie’s creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. A creative thinker and innovator, Charlie believes in helping clients make their best choices; assist them with strategic plans, and decision make. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic and motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa, three cats, and a very spoiled dog.

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