From the Pastor: Passiontide and a Broken Tooth
Just before we entered Passiontide (the last two weeks of Lent) I was eating dinner and started crunching on what I assumed to be some sort of dirt or grit which had not been washed off the corn which was in my mouth. Trying to be polite, instead of spitting it out, I just quit chewing and swallowed it. The digestive tract is quite marvelous in cleaning itself out, and, especially with corn, I had given no second thought about consuming whatever non-edible item I had encountered. That changed as soon as I took the next bite of food. I immediately realized that what I had swallowed was a chunk of one of my molars, which had broken off. The food going into the hole it left and my tongue scraping itself on the sharp edges of both the broken tooth and the now-exposed sharp edge of a large filling made me wish that I had at least gotten a chance to see just how much of my tooth was now missing. But, alas, the piece was gone and I was certainly not going to search through old corn the next day in hopes of recovering it, if you know what I mean.
So it was time to call the dentist. But there was just one small problem. I have had the same dentist for nearly twenty years. He is a good Catholic man and a great dentist to boot. No matter where I have been stationed I have always made the trek back to Dunedin, knowing that having a dentist I could rely on made it worth the trip. Shortly after my last visit, though, he retired. The old receptionist is still there and she tried to get the new guy to open up a slot for me (business is good and they were booked solid) but my schedule here at church for those last two weeks of Lent made it impossible for us to get together until after Easter. Getting through Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday and Holy Week and the Easter Vigil and Easter Day along with all the practice and preparation during that time period, I simply had to do what I always tell you to do: Offer it up!
Have you ever broken a tooth? Maybe you have had a similar experience. As I mentioned, there were sharp edges which cut into the side of my tongue as I spoke or chanted or ate. There is not a whole lot that I could do about that. That side of my tongue was soon sheathed with little cuts and swelled up a bit (which made me bite it every once in a while, which didn’t help!) and made me slur and drool. Sometimes my tongue actually got hung up on it mid word, which was very disconcerting, especially in the middle of a chant. But, as I said, there really wasn’t anything to do about it, as the side of my tongue simply moved across the broken tooth as a matter of nature. But what really irked me is the tip of my tongue. It is out front. The molar is near the back. There is no reason for the tip of my tongue to be in contact with the sharp edges of the tooth and filling, and yet I could not keep it out of there! I would find myself feeling the edges with the tip of my tongue and tell it to stop and go back where it belonged, only to find it doing the same thing over and over again. It was like having an untrained puppy who would listen to a commands to “sit” and “stay” and then immediately “get up” and “come” instead! I cannot tell you how many hours I spent arguing with my own tongue to quite ripping itself to shreds on the broken tooth. Down boy! Out! Off!
As all of this was playing out, I finally thought to myself that this would be as good a time as ever to find a new dentist. So I searched for a Catholic dentist in Tampa, finally found one, made an appointment for Easter week and cancelled the replacement dentist is in Dunedin. Of course, Easter week the Archbishop was here and Father Emmanuel was here, and Fr. Adler (a friend of Fr. Dorvil) was here and I would have liked to spend the time with them instead of with the dentist, but I really like to eat and speak without pain and the Octave of Easter is not the proper time for penance, anyway. But the temporary crown I was fitted with, once the novocaine wore off, hurt so much that I couldn’t even chew bread. It throbbed and caused the surrounding teeth, my jawbone and even my ear to hurt. So I was off to the dentist for another try, the temporary crown was removed and replaced and it was much better. And now I am fitted with the real thing. I have never had a crown before. Crowns are only for kings and old people and I am not a king, which means... NOOOOOO!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka