Monday, December 27, 2004

Rooting out the Non-Essentials

They are officially called, "Non-Essential Personnel". That is, anytime the Army must deploy these people don't necessarily NEED to be invited. How they got to be "Non-Essential Personnel" in the first place is a complete mystery, although I have a theory. I theorize that once upon a time there was a guy who lived comfortably in his ivory tower, looked down upon the general populace and, thrusting his very long, very bony index finger downward, declared, "those guys aren't necessary! Don't invite them" And the events of today prove beyond all doubt, at least to me, that they are not persona non grata. I'd say they are a grata as anyone. "They" are dentists.

In my post dated October 21, 2003, I wrote about my need for emergency dental work and the lessons I had learned about why one shold not wait to have such problems treated. Note to self: Listen to self! I apparently did not learn a thing.

About 2 weeks ago, while enjoying a wonderful Iraqi afternoon, I perchance took a swig of nice cold water. Immediately I thought to myself, "Perchance my face is gonna explode!" Unsure of the cause, but certain it was a tooth that had gone to the dark side, I did what anyone who had been in this siuation once before would do...I took motrin. Lots and lots of motrin. That seemed to work for awhile.

As the days passed, the level of discomfort grew until it dawned on me that I hadn't slept in 48 hours because of the pain. So last night, right around 2 am, I headed to the doc's room. He felt so much sympathy for my plight that he laughed and asked what took me so long to tell him. He gave me a rather high powered pain killer called Tylox and sent me home with instructions to go see the dentist in the morning. I took my medicine and proceeded to writhe in agony for the rest of the night.

After painfully staring at the darkness until it ceased to be dark I dressed and headed to sick call. Until the night before, I didn't even know we had dentists here. I figured I was going to have to wait to get home and just kind of endure. I am thankful I was wrong. Upon arrival and initial assessment by the "Non-Essential Personnel" at the dentist office, I was x-ray'd and given a chair. Being entirely tired, I nearly fell asleep within moments.

The dentist (I wish I had his name because he deserves a medal) began to drill and poke and pull and jab all the while using words like "lingual" and "mezial" and "no wonder that hurt so much, you should see this!" When all was said and done he had performed what is lovingly called a "pulpectomy" which turns out to be something of a modified root canal. I was totally intimidated by the title but it was almost an entirely pain free procedure. That dentist is a god amongst men as far as I'm concerned.

So now my pulp has been ectomied and I am looking forward to a solid night's rest. All thanks to the most essential "Non-Essential" on the battlefield.


Papa Ray said...

Greetings, Sir.

I am glad that the problem with your tooth was fixed, especially since it was unexpected.

I had a toothache for weeks back in 68 (in Nam) and finally was able to convince my CO that it had to be fixed. The reason it took so long is that we had no transportation to the base that had a dentist and he couldn't get me transport. I told him I would find a way to get there.

I hitchhiked on coppers, trucks and even a tank until I got to the dentist. I was gone for a total of 5 days by the time I got back. They had listed me AWOL.

It all got straightened out eventually.

My gratitude for your service, Sir.

This is my post

Papa Ray
West Texas

Barb said...

I must learn really slowly, then - because I've had 5 root canals (over 25 years). I know the pain you were feeling! I'm glad you have those 'non-essential' personnel to take care of your teeth!!!

Steven McKinney said...


I have loved reading your postings. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with those of us at home. You have spoken of dead and dying soldiers. I am a U.S. Army Reserve Bag Piper and have played at the funerals of some of those who have returned to California to be buried. The last service was in a cemetery in Sebastopol for Army Sergeant Ottolini. I arrived early and warmed my instrument up next to a modest headstone that belonged to Charles Schultz. Engraved on the stone were a couple of Peanuts characters, his name, dates of life, and one last inscription "Army Pvt. World War II"

With all his fame and money, Charles Schultz appeared to believe that serving his country was one of the accomplishments he was most proud.

The Ottolini funeral service was very sad. He was a father, a son, a brother, and a husband. Many tears flowed that day. Not only from family and friends but from pipers too.

I pray that we have fewer funerals in the future and accomplish our goals in Iraq and all of our troops soon return home.

Keep your head down, Chaplin. Thanks for all you do.

AFSister said...

Whenever I think of the non-essential dentists, I remember Tom Hanks pulling his tooth out in "Castaway." UGH! SoOOO painful! Dentists may suck, but when you have a nasty toothache, they are a godsend!
Glad the Army sent you a non-essential, Chaplain!

Come to think of it, I've been putting off a visit myself, hoping that my toothache will resolve itself. Darn it! I guess I'd better call them in the morning...