March 24, 2009


I have come home from days of halcyon pleasure in New York to a PANTHEON of horrors. Chief among them, DENTAL TROUBLE. Or, oral surgery trouble, which, really, if you are coming at my mouth with latex gloves and sharp gleaming silvery objects, you are, in my mind, a dentist. Which is to say you are juuuust about as spooky as a clown doll with long, long, long droopy cloth fingers like spider legs and pointy teeth. The kind of clown doll who comes alive at midnight and prances in Slo-Mo toward my bed saying, “Giggles…..wants…to…plaaaaayyyyyy.”

But ANYWAY, I have this weird little swollen place on my tongue. It has been there for a bit, and my dentist wanted me to go see an oral surgeon in case it is a FATAL tongue spot (I am ABSOLUTELY positive it is, Best Beloveds.)

SO I WENT, and he put on latex gloves and came at my mouth, and AFTYER he peeled me off the ceiling, we tried again, and then he told me I need a biopsy and made me sign a sheet saying I understand that MANY terrible things can happen during a biopsy, such as brain damage and death and permanent nerve damage to the tongue. “But these things are not LIKELY,” he said. “Not at ALL.” And then he pulled out a box full of kittens and gobbled one up alive.

OKAY maybe he didn’t do that. BUT HE WAS THINKING ABOUT IT. You can always tell. I was so freaked sitting in the EVIL DENTAL STYLE CHAIR with the rubbery aftertaste of LATEX in my mouth that I could not pull myself together and ask intelligent questions.

I said something like, “BRAIN DAMAGE! CHECK! SUPER! GOTTA RUN!” and bolted out of the chair like a rabbit on amphetamines and scampered away home to jam myself under the bed and practice post-dental procedure zen breathing and meditation. (I am in a meadow…I am in a lovely meadow!)

That afternoon I realized I DID have MANY questions, and I called the doctor’s office back and explaned who I was to his assistant desk nurse/surgical assistant type object and said I DID have questions.

Her: Okay. What are they?
Me: You mean, I should ask you?
Her: Yes.
Me: Not the doctor?
Her: I can answer most questions.
Me: Okay! Part of my job is public speaking and reading aloud --- is it possible this procedure could cause my speech to be impaired?
Her: Yes. That is certainly possible. But not likely.
Me: But it is possible?
Her: Yes. It is possible.
Me: How possible.
Her: Possible, but not likely.
Me: SO…what’s my worst case scenario if I elect NOT to have the procedure?
Her: *as if she is talking to someone very stupid* Then you won’t know what that bump is in your mouth.

I think I can live with that.

Posted by joshilyn at March 24, 2009 7:04 AM

Haha you, Joss dear, are a wuss :P

Posted by: Heather at March 24, 2009 7:45 AM

Oh you poor bunny! I hope the bump magically goes away by morning. But just in case it doesn't, then please ask the clown dentist to give you Valium or something so you can have the procedure done.

Because the smarmy, condescending nurse is totally wrong. The WORST case scenario is that you would have something really wrong that is easy to fix now and not so easy to fix later, but not fix it now out of sheer terror, and then later they would have to do something major that would definitely cause you to hide under the bed AND would affect your speech.

Find another clown dentist with a nicer nurse. It's important!

Posted by: Jen at March 24, 2009 7:53 AM

I know how you feel. I hate-hate-hate-hate dentists. I go to one I know and trust. She knows I can't handle her in my mouth for more than fifteen minutes at a time, so after 15 mins she lets me sit up, breathe, collect myself. Go find one like that!

Because Jen is right. I tend to not go to doctors and dentists because they frighten me..that ended up in me almost getting severe blood poisoning last January. If I had gone immediately, I would have had to do antibiotics for a week. Now I ended up in the ER, and was on six different kinds of medicines for a month...

You need your mouth. Go have it checked out, then come back and tell us all the gory details!!

Posted by: Saskia at March 24, 2009 8:17 AM

My dentist discovered a mysterious tongue 'bump' at my 6 month checkup (last month) and asked me to return 3 weeks later for another look-see. Meanwhile, my super smart pal who I call, The Google, scared the living crap out of me... Fortunately, right at the height of my terror, Oprah did a medical segment including, Chef Grant Achatz, who had a tongue 'bump' and refused to accept the standard protocol. Read it on the Oprah show site by entering his name in the 'search.' Much better option. Meanwhile, I also started evaluating my 'bump' and realized I'd been unconsciously resting my tongue between my molars and apparently had been biting down enough to raise up a little 'bump' spot. I even did it in my sleep.

Posted by: JeanEva at March 24, 2009 8:50 AM

I agree with Jen. Joss, have it checked out. :(

Posted by: Jess at March 24, 2009 9:57 AM

I'm queuing up behind Jen and Jess. Maybe Scott can go and hold your hand while you ask the questions?

Posted by: Mit at March 24, 2009 10:19 AM

I know it's scary. I'm nervous thinking about it. But not knowing is not the worst that can happen.

get drugs, get hypnotized, get it checked.

Posted by: nil zed at March 24, 2009 10:49 AM

You know, I would pat your head and tell you how pretty you are and that all will be well with the dental surgery guy... but you SO freaked me out with your description of that clown doll that I have to go hide under my desk.

Posted by: Aimee at March 24, 2009 10:52 AM

Sorry, I'd like to be sympathetic and encouraging, but I'm too busy laughing at "he pulled out a box full of kittens and gobbled one up alive". Oh, you are too too funny.

Posted by: Holly at March 24, 2009 11:23 AM

I just got back from the oral surgery office on a consultation for removal of a cracked molar and possible implant. Not only is the whole prospect of dental SURGERY scaring the beejeebees out of me, but the cost is making me feel faint. And then they scare you with predictions of what would happen if you just have them take it out and don't fill the space. Stupid dentists! Stupid cracked molars! I'll make a deal with you. If you suck it up and go, then I'll suck it up and go. Shake?

Posted by: Kathy at March 24, 2009 12:31 PM

Did you really not learn with the black lung leprosy??? Talk with them and get some REALLY good drugs. Then have darling (clone in progress) Scott drive you drooling and jabbering about fuzzy pink polar bears all the way to the office and have him hold your hand...

It could get worse if you don't go then you will have your tongue removed and have to learn how to talk with no tongue then try public speaking!!!

Good luck...

Posted by: Linda J at March 24, 2009 1:24 PM

Not knowing is the absolute WORST!

You'll make up all kinds of things for days and days. The world will conspire against you and suddenly the news will be filled with all kinds of stories about fatal tongue spots. The news will include film of famous doctor type personalities commenting on the recent RASH of nebulous tongue spots in the public. FINALLY one day you see one more story in the paper on some weird tongue spot disease from AFRICA. You'll throw the paper down and scream, "OK DAMN IT, I'll go!"

After going and sitting through a procedure, and more sweating and silent screaming, the doctor's office will call you back and say, "We really don't know what it is, BUT it is not fatal and really nothing bad!"

ANTICIPATION - the waiting is worse than the knowing.

I do this about once a year. Welcome to middle age!

Posted by: Just Ginny at March 24, 2009 2:57 PM

It's been 30-plus years since I've allowed a dentist within 20 feet of my mouth.

This post is why. (Well, that the fact that I'm a more than a little bit crazy.)

Posted by: TC at March 24, 2009 3:17 PM

Apparently you and I have had the same dentist at some point in the past. The long flappy fingers have what might be little pom-poms, or possibly little razor talons, at the end, right? DOCTOR Giggles?

My pediatric dentist once said to me, "Shut up! I'm not hurting you!" My memory tells me that it was my low moan and possibly the spurting blood that elicited this outburst from him. I was about nine, and I told my Daddy what that dentist was like, and my Daddy rushed right back to the office and shot him in the knees and said "There! NOW try and hurt little kids!" and refused to pay the bill. Okay he didn't do that. But he didn't take me back to that dentist, and after more than thirty YEARS of patient and gentle dentists, I can now receive dental treatment without the use of MAJOR tranquilizers and three drinks.

Find a patient and gentle dentist, who has a nurse who doesn't mind that you want to ask your questions of the ACTUAL DENTIST, and get him/her to tell you the numerical odds of a) sustaining any permanent tongue damage from the biopsy and b)the bump being a FATAL TONGUE NODULE. I'm betting the odds are 95-99% of no permanent damamge and not being an FTN.

You CAN ignore it, but that's not a very comfortable place to live. Or even visit.

Good Luck!


Posted by: Jennifer at March 24, 2009 4:55 PM

Joss, if you were still in ny i'd set you up. But really, call ahead get the doc to call in a valium or xanax rx and get that biopsy. If you need motivation, google "oral cancer". Sorry. But it is really worth doing. Then CLOSE YOUR EYES. And let it happen.

Posted by: elizabeth at March 24, 2009 7:09 PM

People don't wear seatbelts so their clothes won't wrinkle, or helmets so their hair stays nice... But the worst case alternative is SO much worse. See the relation? A little? Suck it up and have it checked out. Get some really good drugs that make it easier.

Posted by: carolie at March 24, 2009 11:48 PM

And if you go do it you can buy yourself a bunny for a reward!

Posted by: carolie at March 24, 2009 11:49 PM

Yes, Joshilyn, it could be an oral cancer. You really can't let it go unchecked!!

Posted by: Heather P. at March 25, 2009 1:10 AM

I advise to take drugs and have it done . . but am glad it's not ME as I go do deep breathing exercises under the bed now. Oh, maybe NOT under the bed, I just thought of that clown from "Poltergeist". Ack.

Posted by: Brigitte at March 25, 2009 8:21 AM

I'm kinda with you on this one, actually. Dentists are scary, so scary I had to read this post while peeking through my fingers. Eeek.

Yes. I hid from your blog. I had to! You put a dentist in it!

Posted by: alala at March 25, 2009 12:49 PM