Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Year Older and None the Wiser

“I think I broke my tooth,” I told my husband. It was sometime during late March of this year. We were at a family gathering one night and since we arrived early, I positioned my hungry self near one of the bowls of nuts that were strewn around the place. I went to the restroom, opened my mouth and found out that the bottom tooth near my wisdom tooth on the left side of my mouth was missing a filling. “Did you swallow it?” he asked. I nodded.

Throughout that Friday night and the next day, I started to mispronounce my S’s. Every time I said a word that had an S in it, the side of my tongue scraped the sharp, pointy edge of my tooth that was missing the filling. The next day, I found myself at the dentist’s office. The dentist, a Palestinian woman in her late 30’s, was quite nice. “Open your mouth wide, wider…” she instructed me. When I was done, she told me that I needed a root canal on the tooth that had a filling in it. “I also suggest you remove your wisdom teeth and take care of those three surface cavities you have.” Now, I never had an issue with any dentist. In fact, I kind of enjoyed sitting in the chair with my own little sink; I’ve always imagined it to be like my own little home. But what she told me was a bit of a shock: it seemed like I needed a lot of work to be done!

I told my mother about my situation. “You should get that root canal done by my dentist. She’s the best,” she suggested. And that is how I found myself at another dentist’s office. As I lay down staring at her made up face and squinting my eyes every time her bracelets dangled on my nose, the dentist took out my tooth’s root (which I told her I wanted to see; it looked like a squishy pink hair). “I don’t think it’s a good idea to place a crown on your tooth just yet,” she recommended, “I suggest you take out both wisdom teeth on the left side of your mouth because they’re right by the tooth that will need a crown. Plus, the wisdom tooth that’s beside the tooth that needs a crown has a cavity.”


She made me make an appointment with another dentist who works with her. I saw him three days later and I was not so sure I trusted his stubby fingers in my mouth. I was in his office when he bolted out before saying that he would be back in five minutes. Fifteen minutes later, he found me sauntering around his office, bored out of my mind. “Well, I can take out four of your wisdom teeth,” he huffed. I frowned at the young man, “Isn’t that a bit much? I mean, isn’t that unusual? To take them all out in one go?” He laughed and said that it’s no big deal. “But we’ll need to do it tomorrow afternoon because I’ll be flying home to Lebanon tomorrow evening.” That didn’t sit well with me. What if I needed to ask him something post-procedure? What if something happens and I need him to check it out? And regardless of the situation, I never liked it when people underestimate serious and painful procedures by saying that they’re not a big deal. Taking out my wisdom teeth was quite a big deal to me! I thanked him before heading out of the office and calling my mother to ask her who is the go-to dentist for wisdom teeth. She gave me two names and I chose one, a Kuwaiti dentist who took care of my older brother’s wisdom teeth a while ago.

I arrived at the fourth and final dentist’s office straight after work, a day before my birthday. I do not know what came over me that day. Maybe I was anxious about my friend telling me about how I should not drive back home alone because of the pain and anesthetic. Maybe I was feeling overwhelmed by my husband’s growing concern. I might have been nervous about my birthday which was the next day, an event that I was not looking forward to which is surprising to me since I am all about birthdays especially my husband's which was a day after mine, a factor that also made me a bit overwhelmed because of the expectations and planning that went along with it. I was also feeling the pressure of this whole tooth thing that has been going on for almost two months. And maybe I was just hormonal that day. Who knows, but I walked into the dentist’s lavish office feeling abnormally uneasy.

I was taken into a small, 2x2 meter room to get X-rays done. I was there with one Filipina who was behind the whole X-ray procedure. Another chubby Filipina was there, fiddling around with some papers and whatnot. Since the door was open, a third Filipina popped in and started chatting loudly with the chubby one. By then, I was standing in the X-ray machine with my front teeth hooked on some sort of plastic holder. I told the annoying Filipina who came in, “Excuse me, can you please leave?” Maybe the plastic holder made my words incomprehensible or maybe my voice was too low, but the woman kept on yakking away. I managed to unhook my front teeth from the plastic holder and told her sternly, “Excuse me! Please leave and shut the door!” She apologized and quickly shut the door, leaving me standing there with sweaty palms and breathing unusually fast.

Afterwards, I was taken into the dentist’s office. I sat there on the chair and I suppose I looked like a wreck because the dentist took one look at me and asked, “Are you feeling okay? Do you want me to get you anything?” I looked at him and shook his head, “No, I’m fine.” He pulled up my X-ray and I appreciated it when he went over every single detail since I like to know every single detail about everything. After I filled him in on my experience with the three other dentists I visited, he told me that they were right and added, “Taking out your wisdom teeth on the left side is easy. But the wisdom tooth on the bottom right might be a little troublesome. You see, there is a sensory nerve that is right by the bottom right wisdom tooth and if we extract the wisdom tooth and damage the nerve, there might be a chance that you will lose any feeling on the right side of your jaw and lip.”

That did it for me. All the tension that was building up ever since I stepped into the dentist’s office started to come out in uncontrollable tears, “I’m going to be paralyzed?!” The dentist looked at me in shock, “No! You’ll be fine!” I sobbed and said, “What do you mean fine?” With that, I tried to look behind me since there were two Filipinas, the chubby one and the one who handled the X-ray machine, standing there enjoying the show. “Could you tell them to leave please?” I said between sobs. At that point, part of me was saying, “What the hell are you doing crying like that!? Suck it up woman!” But another part was an emotional, blubbering wreck. I felt bad for the dentist who I turned into a shrink, although he handled my bout quite well I must say. “Now now, it’s all right. Everything is going to be okay…” the dentist assured me as he handed me a tissue, “What I wanted to say is that we might have to do some 3D-type X-rays so we can see how close your bottom right wisdom tooth is to the sensory nerve. If it’s too close then we’ll just chip the top of the wisdom tooth off.” I nodded.

The procedure took no more than 20 minutes. “Can I have my wisdom teeth please?” One of the Filipinas (they were ushered back inside once I allowed them to) washed them and handed them to me in a small bag. “How do you feel?” the dentist asked. “Okay, thank you, and I’m sorry about the tears,” I muttered embarrassingly. He smiled and waved it off before writing a prescription for painkillers which helped but never do what I did: take more than one every eight hours. I took four during the span of six hours this past Saturday along with four strong aspirins. That combo left my stomach in knots, made me nauseous and lethargic. To this day, I still reel from the annoying pain in my stomach due to the painkillers.

The moral of the post is this: When people say that you should get your teeth checked out every six months, do it! The last time I had a teeth cleaning was about 1.5 years ago, so it is no wonder that mine needed major work. As my mother always told me, “Your teeth are precious gems, take care of them!”

Note: Since I cannot get on the zShare website, I am sorry to say that there will not be any MP3s this time. I will have to figure out another way on how to upload my music.

at 8:30 AM 2 comments

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Kuwait - Part Two

I have always wanted to go to Failaika Island. Ever since we got marriage, my husband went there twice with his friends. "Promise me that the next time you go there, you will take me with you!" I told him. And that is exactly what happened on Monday, February 27. After preparing our sandwiches, lathering our faces with sunscreen and gathering anything we might need on the island (I suggest wet wipes and water), we put our bicycles in my 4x4 and headed to Marina Crescent to board Bent Al-Khair, one of the catamarans that takes people to Failaka Island. If you want more information regarding this convenient service, click here. The passengers with us were families from all backgrounds i.e. Kuwaiti, Asian, Arab and European.

This is how the island looked like as we approached it. As soon as we were on land, my husband and I hopped on our bicycles and starting our adventure. We first passed by this structure below. I do not know what it is or what it functioned as but it is the first of the many lifeless buildings we saw.

One of the main things that I was eager to see were the Greek ruins. There was a rickety old fence that surrounded the area where the ruins were. A large section of it was knocked down. We literally carried our bicycles over the barbed wire and continued our way to see the ruins which were beautiful but, ironically, were in ruins. Two archeologists were there. One was an American woman while the other was a Kuwaiti man who told us we can take photographs but asked us not to walk inside or along the upper walls of the ruins. Although I was happy for being able to see the ruins I thought, "If these archeologists were not here and if I was a hoodlum with spray paint, I could have easily sprayed the walls and took off." It made me sad to think that the ruins are not being preserved very well and secondly, are not famous nor highly appreciated by locals and residents in Kuwait, generally speaking.

After spending time observing the ruins, we bicycled through the abandoned neighborhoods. I was curious to see the insides of the houses. We stopped at the house below and walked inside.

Since we could not stop every time and take pictures, I basically held my camera with one hand and snapped away while riding on my bicycle. The previous and below photographs are examples of the abandoned houses we saw there. Surprisingly, we noticed that a few houses were occupied. To read about Failaka, click here. One thing that is not mentioned in the article is that after the Iraqi invasion, Failaka's inhabitants were forcibly moved to central Kuwait. I do not know what the main reason was but I think it has something to do with the health risks involved to live there, mostly due to the depleted uranium. I also heard that the government concluded that it was very costly to repair the damage that was done during the Gulf War. To replace their homes in Failaka, the island's inhabitants were given land in Kuwait to build their new homes. It was and still is illegal for people to live in Failaka, but for some reason, quite a few have returned to their homes in the island.

Our next stop was a long ways away. It was quite a ride, mostly because we rode across the desert and since it had rained recently, the sand was muddy and very difficult to bike through. Then again, it was an invigorating workout. We went to see the American tanks and other military vehicles and weapons that were used during the Iraqi invasion. We did not want to spend a lot of time there due to the depleted uranium.

I do not know what this is but from how its built with all the pipes connected to the stalls, it seems like a mobile poison gas...thingi.

Although our ticket included lunch at the Failaka Restaurant, we played it safe by having our homemade sandwiches for lunch. I saw this black duck/bird during our meal. It kept going underwater. I think it was searching for its lunch!

This is the Failaka Hotel. The restaurant area is right beside it on the left. We walked in the hotel and asked to see a room. Unfortunately, all were unavailable. However, the entrance was surprisingly pleasant looking.

The two pictures below is of the restaurant area. There are about four of those small houses. The first one on the far right is Baskin-Robbins. The second one is a cafeteria where we grabbed two cups of tea before we continued our journey. The Failaka Restaurant is rather below average. The food served there was a buffet of various, greasy meals such as Chinese noodles, pasta and an assortment of rice plates. If you plan on heading to Failaka, I suggest you bring your food with you. Otherwise, you will probably set your stomach on an adventure as well.

After we left the restaurant area, we passed by this place. Although we did not go inside and explore it, one of the guards told us it is basically a place that has a few stalls where you can pick up souvenir gifts. I think there are other things there, possibly a museum of some sort and a playground for kids.

I loved how the gas station there has old gas pumps!

We passed by a human-made lake that had ducks and geese. It was quite nice.

The next place we went to was a neighborhood that had chalet-type, bullet-ridden houses. All the houses looked alike from the outside and inside. If you want to feel like you are in a ghost town, I would come here. Although it is not conventionally beautiful, there is a sense of sad beauty all around. I told my husband that it would be a great place for a photo shoot; the sky was clear, the sun was shining and the place was deserted.

Naturally, I was curious to see the inside of the houses. We carefully entered one and took in our surroundings. The two-story house was small but the sunlight lit it up from every direction. Although the rooms were filled with broken furniture and all sorts of trash (nothing smelly), the house had a strange, homey coziness to it, something that gave us a sense of how it felt like living there.

The following pictures and locations are ones I photographed during our ride back to the dock.

The below is Failaka's former the power plant.

I think this is a school.

The below is a mini-market.

The beach and water that day looked amazing. The next time I go to Failaka, I would love to go on an all-day fishing trip.

We finally reached Bent El-Khair, our ride back home.

My husband and I were wondering why there were so many cars waiting to board the ferry. We discovered later that it was due to this.

We boarded the catamaran. I stood on the deck and took this picture. I think we lucked out because the weather that day was perfection.

MP3's (zShare)
Daryl Hall & John Oates - Kiss On My List
INXS - Need You Tonight
Laura Branigan - Self Control
Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy funny how it sounds so amazingly contemporary...
Genesis - Misunderstanding

at 8:30 AM 10 comments