Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sour notes

As mentioned in my previous post, we in New England suffered a fair amount of flooding due to a recent week-and-a-half long rainstorm. Six days into it, I was prompted to stand up at work and declare, "I don't know who it is, but someone is making God angry, and they need to stop whatever it is they're doing..."

I swear, while everyone else was making a run to Home Depot for sump pumps I was online pricing arks. The arks themselves aren't that pricey, but boy, try finding a slip at a local marina.... oy.

Among the casualties of the basement flooding were several well-organized stacks of notes from dental school. Soaked right through, and a week later starting to smell a little gamey.... So I hucked 'em in a neighbor's pickup to run to the dump.

Actual fact: If you own a pickup and live in Maine, you have to have the back seat full of duct tape and a dog. If you borrow a pickup, those items actually come with it. As Dave Barry would say, "I am not making this up."

"Um...look, I just need the truck for half an hour, so if you want to just take the dog an..."
"I don't think you understand....Truck goes to the dump; Cooter goes to the dump."

So now that I'm done washing various Cooter fluids from my clothes, I have time to reflect on my dump experience.
I wanted to at least recycle the papers (as soggy as they were) which meant pulling them out in sheaves and removing any bindings and rubber bands that held stuff together. This gave me the opportunity to ruminate on the dental school experience. I allowed myself to wallow in nostalgia whilst Cooter wallowed in some nearby hamster cage shavings.

On one hand I felt pretty bad throwing the stuff out. Page after page of notes, representing four full years of my life. Most of them had notes written by me, and many of them had been read multiple times in preparation of studying for quizzes, tests, etc. Most amusing were noticing things that I wrote in margins.

"To Rent: 'Shakiest Gun in the West;' stars Don Knotts as cowardly dentist."
"Dental Fraternity Initiation questions: -Which of the following dental instructors is NOT gay......; -How many tabs can be found in amalgam shade guide?..... -What is the specific name for an oral lesion resulting from trauma sustainted during sexual activity?"

Also included were potential designs for the tattoo I never got. So many memories and dreams, lost forever.

On the other hand, contrary to the maudlin feelings of bittersweet remorse, there was a clinical detachement and even relief tossing the notes. Just one glance at a packet of handouts from Immunology was enough to hurl it into the recycling bin. If I ever again need to diagram the histamine response, I suppose I'll be up a creek. Further, I enjoyed the warm feeling of de-cluttering. I mean, really - what was I going to do with all those notes? Dig 'em up in 20, 30 years and show 'em to my kids? "Hey, check out what I learned in dental school back in the day!" Even if they CARE about dentistry, no one would want those notes.

That said, I do still have all my text books, safe and dry at work. I remember finding one of Grandpa's old genetics texts from the 40's. It's quite....Mendelian. That is, pre-dating Watson, Crick and Co's discovery of DNA as the units of heritability. "There is currently some interest in this little nucleic acid, with some researchers thinking it may perform a key role in genetic tranferal," reads a quick blurb at the end of one chapter. So who knows.

Having spent nearly 3 hours on a root canal this morning (patient was on nitrous and actually unaware of how much time passed!) my wrist is sore and I'm pretty much tapped on for typing. Adios, amigos.


Jeanie said...

Great post!
Those margin notes are classic.
The gay demonstrators? OMG. I thought that was just my uni! it must be a worldwide phenomenon. At my uni, it sucks to be not asian and not a guy. I guess one out of two isnt bad...
I'm also extremely glad to hear immunology is as useless as we think it is. What about neuroscience? Are the neurotransmitters of the brain ever pertinent to dental practice?

And musch thanks for the advice on complete dentures- hoepfully next time i'll actually know what i'm doing :D

Amelia said...

So, what IS the specific name for an oral lesion resulting from trauma sustainted during sexual activity???

Dr Nate said...


Are neurotransmitters ever pertinent to dental practice?

Um, well, only to the extent that you feel compelled to know WHY narcotic drugs you prescribe work.... I guess in theory (or OUT of theory and in practice) you can just say "la la la....Vicodin 5-500, 12 tabs, 1t po q 4-6h for pain prn, zero ref" and be done with it.

Then when you get that guy who is on 40 mg of methadone a day "recovering" from his heroin addiction who tells you the only thing that works is straight up oxycodone (and you WILL get that guy, Jeanie - his name is Bill and he will totally end up in your office hunting for drugs once he's tapped out all the docs in the US).... well, THEN it might be nice to beat him over the head w/ some science to explain why that's a bad idea.... down-regulating K receptors and the like...tolerances etc.

Amelia - I actually don't know, but in our pathology text there was a photo of a tongue w/ a sore spot on the lingual frenum (that little bit o' tissue that anchors the tongue to tthe floor of your mouth) and some slightly gappy lower front teeth and the caption read, "the above traumatic lesion resulted from the frenume catching between the teeth during extensive cunnilingus." That made me wince on the level of the famous "zipper scene" in Something About Mary....

hankwillisdds said...


I have a couple boxes of dental school notes int he basement as well. Haven't touched them... guess I should make a dump run as well.

Which reminds me, Maine isn't all that different from Idaho in a lot of ways. Trucks, dogs, duct tape, dump runs...

Our house is a good 200+ feet above the river, though it's visible from the bedroom window. Due to unseasonably warm temps last week there was a major melt of the snowpack in the mountains. Combined with a few days of unsettled weather patterns and th river is at flood stage here as well. The locals say they've never seen the river this high. 50+ years ago before the dikes/levies and the Libby, MT dam flooding in the valley was quite common.

I remember a picture from oral pathology of a bruised soft palate that apparently resulted from you-know-what...