A Day of Dental Surgery

Today was Better Half’s perio surgery. Rain drenched roads and an incessant downpour turned the usually short drive into a two and a half hour odyssey. We arrived in Pittsburgh nearly thirty minutes late but the drive was enjoyable and we chatted along the way.

I have taken refuge in the almost deserted VA basement cantina, where I am enjoying a cheap breakfast. The scrambled eggs dominate the plate, accompanied by several tasty sausages and toast.

I pause now and then to watch the rain sheet down the window; it has eased up and crystalline beads of water grace the slender bare tree branches that sway in striking contrast to the harsh black steel window frame. Jazz muzak pipes through the overhead speakers, competing with the tinny babble of a veteran’s portable television.

The steady electric beep of the maintenance crew’s electric carts draws near and then fades away as employees shuttle through the tunneling maze connecting the hospital buildings on the campus. This is Highland Drive, a city unto itself replete with barbershops, mini BXs, and a credit union.

A familiar face pokes through the cantina doorway and I am treated to a wave and smile from one of the VA police officers. Better Half has so many appointments that I have perhaps become recognizable to the staff here. He offers a warm Pittsburgh, “Hey, how ya doin’ there?” and I give the token reply: “Can’t complain.” I inquire about the fire damage from a few weeks ago, and the officer purses his lips and bobs his head three times – “so so.” Italians; we speak without sound.

I check in upstairs and discover that Better Half has three more stitches to add to his collection. We must wait a while longer for his prescription for mouth rinse to be filled, so we head back to the depths of the hospital in order to get some food into his stomach.

(We did invite Dr. McWilliams and her spouse to our Memorial Day BBQ. I suppose this means that I must actually plan a BBQ! Better Half is rather the spontaneous sort. He decides to host a party and all I can think about is the amount of effort that needs to be put into making the house “event friendly.”)

“Take small bites,” I admonish Better Half as he lifts his burger to his mouth (for all intents and purposes it almost appears the burger is devouring his face. Men!) He cocks his head to one side as he eats, for surely gravity alone will keep the food away from the surgical site. I snap a photograph and smile. He is not amused and I quickly tuck my notes away.

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