Monday, July 12, 2004

My Frozen Tongue

This story is for Liz from Michigan, who just had her gums frozen for some dental cleaning. I must warn that it's not as charming a story as I am wont to tell, but it's truth about the squirrel. Minutiae.

I have never liked needles much, including dental work needles. About 8 years ago (my first year on the job at the reference desk), I had a filling done to repair some old dental work. Routine job, right? When the dentist put in the needle and pushed the syringe down, it felt totally weird. We had just been making jokes, and so I said lightly, "Wow, that froze my mouth instantly!" He looked at me in a funny way, but didn't say anything. And I thought nothing more of it.

La dee dah. The day progresses, and my mouth takes a long time to thaw. Later that evening, I called the dentist to say, "You know, the left half of my tongue is still frozen...?" and he says, "Oh, you'd better stop in and see me tomorrow." I saw him the next day (those were the days when I was less assertive than I am now), and the rat bastard would not admit that he had made a mistake. He kept saying "It's too bad that this has happened to you." Like I had been hit by lightning??? A few days later, I talked to someone from the College of Dental Surgeons etc, and he said "It's very rare that they hit a nerve when freezing the gums - it happens to about 1 in 2 million people." Sigh. I wish I had won the lottery instead.

The medical doctor I saw about it said that all nerves grow back except the spinal cord, and they grow back at a rate of one millimetre per day. It was a bleak four months. Example: I think I grind my teeth in my sleep, and so I would wake up with my tongue lacerated because I couldn't feel the damage. Blech. There were funny things about having a frozen tongue too, of course. I work on the "Information Services" desk, and so I used to answer the phone saying, "Information Services!". Once my tongue was frozen, I could barely strangle out, "Informathon Thervithes".

Most librarians know that the tone with which you speak is half of how you prove that you are an authority, when you answer a question. "Informathon Thervithes" does not suggest authority. I think it sounds more like the Hunthback of Notre Dame: "May I climb the tower and ring the bellth for you, Madam?"

I still have a bit of residual nerve damage in the tip of my tongue (so much for all nerves grow back in time), although I've dropped the lithp (lisp). Saying "Information Services" is still a tongue twister for me. Now I just say "Library Information!" instead.

You can't keep a perky squirrel down. But I do have a new dentist.


Blogger liz said...


I knew the minute I read "Wow, that froze my mouth instantly!" what the outcome was going to be. I hate nerve-y stuff!

Most of my random bad luck seems to be money related, so I hope I can avoid your experience. (Yep, crossing my fingers, throwing salt around my torso, and all sorts of other highly effective behaviors to avoid it.)

3:48 pm  

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