Friday, December 11, 2009

All I want for Christmas...

Back in the days of selling drugs, I was quite the looker.

I was one of the only women to work for Merck in sales. This was 1978. My territory was from San Bernadino to Arizona and I had a wide variety of customers to call on. I called on hospitals, and pharmacies, doctors and clinics. I also called on a little company town called Eagle Rock.

Eagle Rock was a mining town of some sort. Set far off the highway in the desert moutnains, you could tell you were near when you saw enoromous earth moving machines with tires as tall as houses. They people who lived in this isolated location, all worked for "the company." They all looked like they had been there way too long. I remember sitting in the clinic waiting room where there was one man with jeans barely held up up by only the large silver belt buckle engraved with bucking broncos. I avoided looking at him too long, since there was only one place your eyes would be drawn. So I looked over to the corner with a woman who had three children circled around her. I nodded and said hello, hoping to strike up a conversation that had nothing to do with belt buckles and she smiled at me. She had no front teeth.

I realized I was in another world.

Well, two days ago, I crossed over to the other side.

I was hungry and decide I wanted something I could gnaw on, so I stopped at Bryant's and bought 3 pork ribs. I lustfully bit into the meat and noticed something chunky in its midst. I thought I had bit off a piece of the bone, but was horrified to spit it into my hand and see the crown from my front tooth laying in my hand. I hoped it had just come off the underlying tooth, but unfortunately the tooth had sheared off to the gum. I ran to the mirror only to see a woman who looked strangely like a woman I had seen in Eagle Rock looking back. The gap in her mouth was slightly bleeding, and tears started rolling down her cheeks.

(not me.... used of illustration purposes only!)

I called Glenn and then my dentist. Our dentist is one of those fellows who explains things slowly. "It's bad..." he said, "but you have options." He explained the root was spilt under the gum and the tooth would need to come completely out. The options were to do an implant, or a bridge. Both options would take a lot of time so, here he was after hours taking my crown and attaching it to a retainer so I wouldn't have to continue to look like Eagle Rock woman. (If you need a great dentist, call Roger Solow. He went the distance for me, and I, my husband and anyone else who may need to look at my sorry mug are very grateful. )

Yesterday I had the rest of the tooth removed. Frankly besides being embarrassed, I was kind of angry for the timing. $$$ during the holidays is tight for everyone. I have places to go and places to be seen! I bought a great dress for the office party and wasn't able to go. I had to make a cake that I had donated as part of Wine Wars to be picked up this afternoon. You aren't supposed to eat or sleep with the retainer... (It's a good diet plan for the holidays don't you think?) Well, I can still drink wine right???? Not if you believe the latest research that says there is a 30% increase in the incidence of Breast Cancer recurrence in those people who drink (even 3 drinks a week!)

So today as I was finishing my cake (a cowboy boot with a bottle of tequila for a 21st birthday), I thought about western things. I thought a about the most western place I had ever seen Eagle Rock, and I started to feel lucky.

Circumstances of birth, and life choices have us on many different roads. My journey started with being lucky at birth, continued with obtaining a great education and wonderful friends. I married the man of my dreams and 28 years later we are still happily married. This life had blessed me with choices other people just don't have. I can have an implant. I am not doomed to a toothless grin. I can opt to decide which studies make sense to me and which do not when it comes to my past breast cancer. I am alive to do this after 14+ years of survival. I have survived things a lot worse than losing a front tooth.

I can choose to be the one who is angry that she broke off her tooth, or be the one who considers herself lucky that she can repair it. So as I put the finishing touches on my 21st birthday cake, I contemplated grabbing the tequila and having a toast.

Here's to Eagle Rock and here's to me not having to live anywhere near there. Cheers!