I’m sure many people will know that popular children’s song, accompanied by actions – head and shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes), eyes, and ears, and mouth, and nose, head and shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes). I was thinking that Father Frank’s Log has been a bit like that at times. I’ve written about my feet; my back; my eyes; my ears; and even my prostate. Old age, as they say, doesn’t come on its own. This week it’s my teeth that are the topic. On one of the very first days of lockdown, way back in March, I was heading out to the car to come into the church when, suddenly and unexpectedly, I could feel in my mouth, that a big chunk of filling had come out of one of my molars. Normally, I would have called my dentist right away to have it seen to but, with lockdown underway, that wasn’t an option. So, for the past seven months I have been trying to nurse this tooth along, conscious of the big gaping hole that I could excavate with my tongue, very conscious of occasional pain and tenderness, and wondering what damage was being done.
Then, just last Thursday, I had a text from my dentist, informing me that dental examinations were resuming this week, and so I made an appointment for the following Tuesday, the earliest appointment available. Unfortunately, the damage was done, and the tooth was beyond redemption. I’m sure there is a moral lesson in there about decay, and postponing for too long those things in our lives that should have been put right much sooner but, in this instance, Covid-19 and lockdown had made that impossible. Root canal treatment was ruled out; there wasn’t enough tooth left to rebuild; leaving it and doing nothing would be too big a risk, and so, reluctantly, my dentist recommended extraction, and that’s what will happen in a couple of weeks from now. As Oor Wullie or the Broons would have said, “Help ma boab!”. It’s a long time since I had a tooth out and I’m not looking forward to it. Memories of the Broons extracting aching teeth by tying one end of a piece of string around the tooth, and the other end to a door handle, then slamming the door shut, crossed my mind as an option. Needless to say, I have had offers from Father Gareth, Father Antony and others, to get the pliers out and do a homer but, wisely I think, I have declined all such offers.
The last time I remember getting a tooth out was when I was still working in Olivetti in the early 1970’s. The tooth had an abscess, very painful, so I phoned my dentist. However, no appointment was available for a couple of weeks and I was advised to make my way to the Dental Hospital and School in Sauchiehall Street. My boss at the time told me to get going, and I vaguely remember filling in forms and waiting in a queue until I was eventually taken. Once again, extraction was the only option. I’m not too sure who actually carried out the surgery, but I do remember a number of students gathered around and observing. It was a great relief to get the tooth out, but afterwards I contracted an infection that required remedial treatment and antibiotics, with the pain for a time even worse than the toothache. So, as you can imagine, I am a little bit anxious. However, I have great trust in my dentist, and I’m sure all will be well. I will just need to learn to chew on the other side of my mouth.
Yesterday, I received delegation from the Archbishop to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on the children from St. Mungo’s and St. Stephen’s who were scheduled to receive the Sacrament last March, and who have now moved on to various secondary schools. For the same length of time that I had to wait to get my tooth examined, they have had to wait for their Confirmation. Despite the Coronavirus restrictions again making the celebration very different from what would have expected and hoped for, at the end of the day, these young people will have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit for the living of their Christian lives, and it will be a privilege for me to confer that upon them. Otherwise, all are well out at Bishopbriggs with nothing much to report. No news is good news. So, as always,
protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, protect others, and protect Christ in your lives.