These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Friday, June 29, 2007

#17 is no more

the deed is done. tooth #17 is gone, erradicated from my gum and jaw as of 11 a.m. thursday.

i was nervous. i felt my heart and it was pounding as if i'd gone on a short jog. as time approached, it got a bit worse and i gried calming myself.

krista picked me up shortly before 10. before i knew what was happening, i was whisked inside, had an x-ray taken, and promptly sat ina chair. heart was till going.

then the dentist came in, put the laughing gas contraption over my nose and a stick full of jelly (which he rubbed on my tooth and gum area) and left.

as soon as i took a whiff of the gas, i felt better. thank god for nitrous oxide (i think that's what they called it). my extremities felt tingly and heavy. then i didn't care anymore.

i was there but not, you know. i listened to the xfm radio station, an attendant, esther, talking to people on the phone, emily, my attending, talking about an intern person. i listened as the deejay talked about darfur and an album put out to help the country.

emily and the doc came back in. i felt great. then he removed the stick with the jelly on it, and gave me several injections, which kinda hurt. i guess the jelly numbs the gum before the injections are put in.

they left and i continued to relax. funny thing, i felt the lower half of my body slightly to the left of me. it's as if, my upper half was out of place. then i felt myself go somewhat. i didn't want to lose control. for a second, i felt a little anxiety. then it was gone. succomb to it, i heard my inner mind say. so i did.

then back in again, they doc and emily set to work. they did something which i think was spread back my gum from the tooth. at least it felt that way. i grunted and he put more jelly in my gum area to numb it more.

then after a few minutes, they set to work on removing #17. he got a drill and emily said, "you're going to hear a loud sound." i did. the doc went to work but i didn't have a clear understanding of what he was doing. at least not yet.

i could taste what was probably my tooth being blasted into. but emily kept at it with the suction machine and the taste was gone.

then i heard the coolest thing a medical person has told me, "you might hear a cracking sound." he tapped my tooth with something, and sure enough, i heard my tooth crack.

then he set to removed the pieces. he went in tugging at least three for four pieces. either way, i felt nothing except the pulling.

and it was over. no more than 15 minutes. gauze was placed in my mouth. i shook the doctor's hand. emily informed me on what i could do and not do. and then i got up and walked off.

i felt good.

i thought i was going to be in miserable pain. even took a prescription of vicadin to be filled. (I haven't picked it up). nothing. no serious pain. i've tken only four motrin (two at a time) yesterday afternoon.

i feel good. today my tooth area is swollen. it feels as if someone punched me.

and you may ask, where the tooth picture? yes, i did ask for the tooth. emily provided me with what was left, which was not much. but it's not going to appear here. i guess it would be a little tasteless. if anyone wants to see the tooth, e-mail me and i'll shoot you a personal picture.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

scared toothless

it just dawned on me a few minutes ago while reading a friend's blog that i have a special day tomorrow. a very special day.

my visit to the oral surgeon. oh, boy.

listen up kiddies, take care of your teeth. look what's happening to uncle r. because he didn't go to the dentist in, oh, six years. brush several times a day, floss, rinse, go to the dentist.

no, i think this tooth would be coming out anyway. for all of you oral surgeon enthusiasts, it's number 17 in my lower left side (but you already knew that).

it's a wisdom tooth. it's my last one and it's crookedly pushing up against the tooth in front of it plus, now there's a cavity there because of the sitaution. bacterial buildup since it's hard to get a toothbrush in there.

my appointment is in the morning and once more my dentist buddy krista will drive me.

they're talking possibly an IV drip to sedate me. i mustn't eat six hours before the appointment. i must be brave (MOMEEEEE, HELP!!).

i haven't had teeth extracted (removed, yanked out, ripped from my gums) in over 10 years, probably more, when the other three wisdom teeth were taken out. i don't recall much of that trip to the dentist, maybe i blocked it out.

i really don't know what to expect. i'm visualizing numbing, sleepiness, noise, cutting, pulling, ripping, blood, wooziness, gauze, cosmo kramerness mouth, christ, there's a hole in my mouth, kind of thing.

i'm hoping for better than that. way better than that.

i will try to meditate and put my mind elsewhere, like on the forum page of our newspaper the other night. smile wanly. how good it feels.

i will keep you updated later tomorrow on how it went.

expect a surprise picture on the next blog entry. yes, it's something i've never done but this could be the right time for one. take a guess of what it could be?????

Monday, June 25, 2007

the trip 4


it was good to see my folks again. it's been hard with my dad sick with cancer and my mom tired from the caregiving.

i was prepared to see my dad, even though i'd been told he's lost weight and he used a cane to get around outside the house.

still, it was shocking to see him as we walked into the yard sunday afternoon. he became a little emotional and we hugged. i could feel he bones at his shoulders and back and i closed my eyes.

during the week, it was up and down for him. he spent a lot of time quietly sitting at a rocker or lying down in his bedroom. the side effects from the chemo wreak havoc on him from his digestive system and his memory to ulcers in his mouth and lack of appetite. it was hard to see him sruggle throughout the week.

but he had a good day thursday and i went with him to turn on his old truck to run the motor; he doesn't use it often. then we went and looked over the cows for a bit before returning to the house. there was a glimmer of my old man there, wearing his cap and blue work shirt.

we tried to make it easy for my mom. we asked her to not cook for us much. she ended up cooking some food on the friday before we left and mostly breakfasts. i didn't want her to have to worry about two more mouths to feed. she's tired, having to go with my dad to appointments, drive, and care for him in every aspect. she's become like a nurse to him. she's very dedicted and i'm proud of her. not just anyone would do what she's doing.

we're supposed to return next spring. i hope it's next spring and not before. i'd rather wait until then.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

the trip 3


we saw lots of people on our trip. mostly it was family we saw. it's the main reason we go to texas. all my family is there.

my aunt blanca and her husband adan came down from san antonio on thursday and they took us out to eat. my aunt Mine wanted to take us to el agape cafe (which has the best tacos you'll find anywhere). so we all went. i hadn't seen my aunt in more than a year. she couldnt' make it for christmas, so we missed her then. i'm glad she and adan could make the 3 hour trip south to see us.

we met up with mike perez. he and i worked at the paper in alice until i left. we've remained friends. we lost touch shortly after hurricane katrina and only started talking again soon after new year's this year. we picked up where we left off. he's a good guy and we went out to eat at charro's in alice. we'd not been there since we left for michigan. again, we caught up and it's all good. for those who enter my kitchen and look at the picture of three crazy mexicans dressed as cholos, mike's the one on the far right.

my grandparents, aunt gloria, uncle frank, cousin lynn, her baby tres and my uncle amado and aunt anita and cousin virgie we all got to see in one fell swoop in benavides. tres kept us entertained. once he silence broke, he was good to go. it was good to see them all. amado and anita i hadn't seen for more than four years.

and what can i say about my brother and sister. it's always good to see them. it's strange seeing my sister linda as a mom. she's my little sister for god's sake. but she's doing a fine job. my brother robert i got to see quite a bit, something that doesn't happen often because of his job. we had some good conversations and he even said, "take care and i love you" before we hung up that last night (he was at a job several hours away at the time).

and there were various other aunts and uncles i saw again. my godparents rodolfo and elva were there the first day we arrived. it was hard seeing them struggling to walk with walkers and canes. also my uncle rene was there during the week and we chatted for a bit.

as time goes by, i see more of my family and a lot less of friends who live down there. it's very hard to divide my time. maybe i just do a bad job of it. or maybe i just want to spend time with my folks.

the trip 2

maricella my sister in law is the center of the universe. shhhh. don't tell her that.

because of her, i've been able to make contact with many classmates of mine. it started last spring (2006) when i met up with issabelle at a ballet folklorico practice rena had. issabelle's daughter is in it, too. we exchanged info. later, when we went to texas in december, we had a get together and met up with many more classmates and that has yielded more contacts.

this time, we were going to see rena during softball practice. we called to make sure it was on since it was thundering and bad weather threatened. she said yes it was on.
we get there and she says, "someone wants to say hi." i saw the woman but panicked because i didn't immediately recognize her. luckily she went to dawn first and found out it was anna lopez. i haven't seen her in maybe eight or nine years. it was great to see her.
she knew my sister in law, knew their last name, my brother, but it was when she said my first name outloud that she questioned if it was the same guy she graduated with in '89. it was.
we made plans and the following day she, dawn and i had dinner at a local diner. we got to catch up and it was good. she brought back lots of memories (the rocks, reading books and other interesting things). i had forgotten things like the rocks, to which i am embarrassed about now. i am surprised she still talks to me. but that's the type of person she is. we had great catching up talks.

yes, i have one now. i'd struggled for more than a month about getting one. i decided maybe a month early then asked dawn and she supported it only if i got something meaningful.
i asked my friends. i got answers ranging from if you don't know what to get, then you shouldn't get one to get eddie maiden. well, i took those under consideration. eventually i went my own way.
i ended up getting the two chinese characters for Dawn. the word has many meanings for me, not only my wife's name.
i had called lois stephens who works at my old paper. she has a tat shop in alice. we talked. i dropped by when we got down there, and on tuesday, june 19, i went in. i got the characters on my upper left arm, black with some red trim.
i will save the picture for the newsletter and more details about it for that other form of communication (which should be out next weekend) i will say that after experiencing this one, i will get more on my body. details to come.

the inside joke for the few who may know the reference: i'm not a tattoed millionaire. my name's not even bruce.

the trip part 1

we took a trip to texas to visit my family. we'd been there in december, so it'd been only six months and, since we've moved up here, it's been the least time between two trips.

the plane rides

it was easy as pie going down to texas from o'hare. we sat in the row with two seats. perfect for us. i had my ipod. no problem. dawn read and slept.

however, there was a chatty cathy behind us who talked pretty much the entire flight town. i wanted to strangle her. dawn said, though, that the guy next to her, asked a lot of questions. so perhaps if he'd feigned sleep, she would have shut up. it was ad nauseum conversation. i could hear her through the earphones at times. argh.
the flight back had other issues. the flight time changed, so we were at the san antonio airport nearly two hours early. then we found out that our seats had been changed and we were on the side with three to a row. luckily, i had the window seat this time. but it was crampt. at the back of the plane, you hear all the sounds. it's loud. i kept having visions of the plane suddenly losing power or someone jumping up and claiming the plane for himself. i kept an eye on the flight attendants and the wings. all went well. but i didn't even take the complementary drink.
we landed safely and drove the nearly 2 1/2 drive through chicago and around the lake to holland.

nieces and nephew
it was so good to see lorena, ricardo and emma grace again. i love those little ones. they've grown so much, even in six months.

we took rena and ricky to corpus to get books. we wanted to spend some time with them. rena took to (surprise) an illustrated version of "pride and prejudice." (by the time we left saturday, she was more than halfway done). she also got more books of the spiderwick series and the illustrated version of "the three musketeers." ricky wanted dinosaurs. while he's not the reader rena is, he enjoys looking at books of the big beasts. he bought one and we bought him another one on predators. i'd like to see him read more because of the upcoming state test, which he needs to pass to continue onto the fourth grade. i'm concerned.

we had a great time with them. they were pretty much well-behaved. we took them to friday's. it was their first time there. we even sang elvis' "burning love" on the way home and had them laughing.

little emma grace is only 15 months old and she's a hoot. we tried to spend as much time as we could with her and linda and arnold (he even took the week off from work to be there). emma is a ham. she likes to climb onto of the fireplace front (a foot off the floor) and sorta dance around, even does a bit of a bow. she's got a great smile that's contagious. if you tell her "how does emma cry?" she'll crinkle her face and squint her eyes shut. my fave is "how does mamma laugh?" she utters this funny "et, et, et, et" laugh and doubles over in a comical gesture. it's quite funny. of course linda doesn't laugh that way, but oh well. near the end of our trip, she warmed up a lot to dawn and somewhat to me. i chalk it up to the fact that i'm always grabby, touchy and she probably does't like it.

it was so much fun to hang out with all of the kids. it's nice to see rena and emma together. that little girl looks for rena all the time and goes to her like a sister. likewise, rena loves emma and carries her around. ricky? he just loves his cartoons and riding his bike around and picking flowers. he brings up flowers he picks from the side of the dirt road.

i miss those kiddies.