On Novocain

Michael Clune at the Paris Review:

I’ve been clean for over twenty years. Let me give you an example of the kind of problem addiction is, the scale of the thing. In April 2019 I went to the dentist. I had a mild ache in a molar. He said the whole tooth was totally rotted all the way through, that they couldn’t do anything more with it. It was hopeless. The tooth was a total piece of shit and would have to be extracted. He gave me the number of a dental surgeon and I called and made an appointment. I talked to my dad, who’d had many teeth extracted, and he told me it was no big deal. When I got to the dental surgeon’s office I told him that I’m a recovering addict, and that I wanted to avoid opiate painkillers. He looked in my mouth and when he got out he said, “You’re going to need opiate painkillers.”

Then he shot me up with Novocain and he went in there with a wrench, and I realized that dentists have soft, delicate hands and seem like doctors, like intellectuals, but when you really need dental care, you go to a dental surgeon and their main qualification is brute physical strength.

more here.