Sunday, October 14, 2012


Life has been very good here.   Even without the luxuries of the U.S., I’ve been having a great time and meeting some great people.  But, for those of you who have told me how green with envy you are, there’s a down side to being away from home.  I’ve already written about the problem with my knees and how you need to be part mountain goat to navigate your way around Italy.  Now I’ve had a health issue that can’t be fixed with a compression bandage.  Believe it or not, I broke a tooth on the crust of some of this wonderful Italian bread.  I mean, the whole tooth just broke off! 

I had a similar wrangle with a bagel a few years ago, and I thought I'd learned not to bite into hard, crusty things.  But the piece of bread I had torn off was too big a bite, and I had already dipped it in olive oil.  I didn’t want to get my fingers oily, so I just bit it in half.  At the time, I was lunching and talking with my friend Grace, and there was a 5 piece band that had just started playing.  So all this happened without conscious thinking.  (Does this remind you of the washing machine in any way?!)

I called the school to ask if they could find me a dentist who could speak English, and they made an appointment for me.  The dentist was in Piano di Sorrento, a 20 minute bus ride from Sorrento, and off I went on Tuesday.  I discovered, upon arrival, that the dentist spoke no English.  Now this makes me a bit uncomfortable.  His assistant spoke a little English, but not enough to explain what he was going to do to me.  The solution:  they called the school, and a woman named Christiana interpreted for me.  She told me the dentist was going to do a root canal.  Okay, that’s what was done on the other tooth, so I was okay with proceeding.  Unfortunately, the dentist couldn’t remove the nerve.  Apparently, it’s another one of those irksome aging issues—your root canals can close up, so the nerve can’t be easily accessed.  The dentist put some kind of medicine into the opening he made that would supposedly facilitate a second attempt.

Back I go three days later.  My appointment is at 6 p.m. on a Friday evening—these Italians work crazy hours.  This time, in addition to the dentist, there’s a tall, scruffy bearded man who is introduced to me as the technician.  It took me a while to figure out that he was the “tooth fairy”.  After what seemed like an eternity, the nerve was successfully removed, and then came a rather lengthy process of getting a tooth fitted properly, which was quite a collaborative effort between the dentist and the “tooth fairy”.  

I have to say that these two did a wonderful job.  And it turns out that the Christiana who did all the interpreting for me via phone is the director of the language school.  I was pretty impressed with this personal attention. 
Since I’ll be leaving here next week, I’ll probably wait until I get to Thailand to get the permanent tooth, because I'm pretty sure it will be much less expensive there.  (Did I mention that I’m going to Thailand next?)

Anyway, I would rather have been at home when this happened than have two Italian men talking over my mouth and not being able to understand anything they said.  My Italian lessons have not covered dental terms.

No pictures in this post, because I’m pretty sure you wouldn't be that interested in seeing my new tooth.  

A side note:  I got to Piano di Sorrento early, so I went into a library to pass the time reading.  And guess what?  All their books were locked up!

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