Monday, March 21, 2011

Teeth and Other Discards

James Lileks and I (see previous post) aren't the only ones with a tooth-related tale. Dale at Faith in Honest Doubt not only has a memory, he has the teeth.

I have kept them as a reminder of oh, say, the frail, ephemeral quality of our bodies, or because it's not clear how best to dispose of cast-off body parts.

I had my wisdom teeth pulled at about that same time (I don't recall exactly when, and it would be too much work to find out). My problem was opposite the usual; one was sticking out, causing me to bite the inside of my cheek. The upside to that was they all came out quite easily, the only slight problem occurring when one came out of the pliers and I had to sit up rather abruptly to avoid swallowing it. I also took mine home. I presented them to my first wife, who let me know she would have lived on quite happily without that little surprise. Sadly, I don't still have them. Interestingly, I don't have that wife either. I shall move on without further pursuit of that.

I have had different experiences with body part disposal. I wasn't allowed to keep the bone chip that was removed from my elbow. Apparently the hospital needed it to prove they actually accomplished something. My first wife, however, got to take her gall stones home (different hospital), and my daughter took them to school for show-and-tell. From what I understand, the kids thought they were cool, but the teacher's reaction was similar to my first wife's response to the teeth.

Most recently my wife told me that her son gave her his newest daughter's umbilical cord, and that she is crafting a pouch for them to store it. (As an aside, this young lass was born roughly 5 weeks prematurely at 9 lbs. 9 oz. In the preemie ward she looks like a Harley in a parking lot full of scooters.) Apparently this is a Lakota tradition (the mother is Lakota), but it was new to me, and my initial reaction, though outwardly subdued, wasn't much different in thought from the others I mentioned.

Ah well, as Dale noted, I guess it beats just throwing the old parts out. I believe the slogan is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".


Dale said...

Mike, I wrote all of that on a lark, but the very fact that I have kept the teeth -- and have known exactly where they have been kept for better than 20 years now -- suggests it's not just a lark. There's something about those teeth that marks them off from any other medical exhibit I might run across.

Sal Casley said...

I have a friend who also kept his teeth for a good 20 years. I don't know why, maybe because its a memento of his pain and suffering on the dental chair. In my case, I had my wisdom teeth extracted a few years ago. And what did I do with my extracted teeth? I gave them what they deserve for causing me so much pain. They went for a swim in the river.