My dentist is like a hitman.
I've had more of my teeth removed, drilled, cleaned and poked in San Francisco than in my life before.
His rooms are odd to me. There's a water feature and calm bamboo Zen music. Smiling assistants and nurses (all women), and The Dentist. I'm part way through getting a crown on the tooth marked RED on the head's up display in front of my chair.
Yesterday, I was happy to be expecting nitrous oxide. That's up in the list of favourite... escapes, and I very much enjoy those first few deep breaths. Yesterday was a bit different. I think I had too much. At one point, I wasn't even sure that the nose nozzle was on my face. I could feel fresh air on my nostrils, and couldn't see the nozzle in front of my face. I was convinced The Dentist and his assistant were talking about me. They also give you an iPod with a questionable selection, which I choose to shuffle for some reason.
I was prepped by his assistant with some sort of anaesthetic gel, taking a mold of my soon-to-gone tooth and an advil, some time went by, and then he appeared.
During the first song yesterday, I was breathing deeply, and made up what I thought was a hilarious joke that I had to remember. As The Dentist was looking over my x-rays planning his attack, he kept saying, "if you feel any pain at all, just raise your hand. We're not here to hurt you." I replied, "Will I be hurt?"
Just before he was ready to start he asked, "OK. Ready to go?" I raised my hand and asked urgently, "can you help me remember this song?" He grabbed the iPod and read "One Sweet Love" by Sara Bareilles, which he mispronounced so he showed me the device. "Thanks. Sorry." I said. Pretty sure he gave me a shallow jab of novocaine to the boob too. "You're going to hear more of her," he said.
Then he began. Fucking brutal. The smell! The shards flying. I wasn't feeling the N2O then. I think the assistant was holding down my tongue, but not hard enough. So, The Dentist stuck his thumb in my mouth and pushed down hard. I had a piece of rubber on the other side that I knew I was biting down on. Unpleasant.
He had to get up (to wee?) at one point. While he was out, I allowed my tongue to wander to ground zero. Basically, my whole tooth was gone, and only the metal of the filling within it remained.
He returned briefly to finish the job, and then disappeared.
His assistant put in a temporary crown and oxygen began flowing through and my head began to clear. It was finished. Took me a while to get up and rinse my mouth out. Teeth stuff came out.
I was groggy. Made the final crown-placement appointment. Paid half of this very expensive bill. Groggy. Everyone asked if I was OK. "Get some fresh air," they said.
I'm an Australian designer who specialises in digital and cultural work. Most of my career thus far has been on the web, but I'm excited that it's starting to creep out into the real world.
I am the founder of Museum in a Box, making interactive museum objects with simple, fun tech, for wide-as-possible distribution, and I own a company called Good, Form & Spectacle, making design in service to cultural heritage for clients like The British Museum, MoMA, and the Wellcome Trust.
Please visit my LinkedIn profile to find out more about my work.