Chrisie and I have a good friend who also happens to be our dentist. On the plus side, he’s the first dentist I never thought performed unnecessary procedures. On the negative side, he knows us well enough to tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear.
When Chrisie needed a root canal, I stood by and watched him work. He took particular care (as I’m sure he does with all his patients), reassured her, and kept her comfortable. Chrisie has a fairly low threshold for pain, but I knew she was (and is) far stronger than she gives herself credit. Still, I stood as close as possible during the procedure.
At one point, when Chrisie’s jaw was probably sore from her holding it open for so long our dentist applied hot metal to help set the work. I saw a single tear well within one of her eyes. Our dentist friend noticed when that tear spilled over the lid and ran down her face. He took a bit of gauze and gently daubed her cheek and eye.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “You’re doing great and it will be over soon.”
I remember that moment fondly. It reminds me of how wonderful it is to have a good friend who also provides such great care. It also reminds me of how differently men and women are usually treated.
Years later, I needed a crown on one of my back teeth. I of course went to our friend for the work. At one point during the procedure, a tear involuntarily welled in my eye because it, you know, hurt. My dentist, my friend looked at me with concern over the magnifying glasses he wore and asked, “Did that hurt?”
I nodded as much as I felt safe. Then, my dentist, my friend, the same man who gingerly wiped a tear from my wife’s eye looked at me and said, “Aw, suck it up!”
My eyes widened in shock. I couldn’t believe the difference in treatment. I have to admit, though, that, while I kid him about it, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I manned up and made it through the rest of the procedure without incident.
But I’m still going to bring it up. Just to annoy him if nothing else.