Ho! Ho! Memories of meeting Liberarce and having a tooth out while having life infusion!

Eating a rice cake the other week, I kid you not,  I managed to crack a
right hooky tooth vertically so nothing could be done to save it. I
rang the  brilliant Thirlestane Road dental practice where I have
been attending  for over 35 years (aside: Victor Poots – father of Alex
Poots who now runs the incredible  Manchester festival –  was my
dentist  until he retired about 3 years ago. He was regarded as  ‘a
true artist’ as various other dentists told me when they looked in my
mouth – once notably when I had been mugged in Chile while making a
BBC radio documentary programme about the murdered  singer Víctor
Jara,  a dentist who had known Víctor Jara  and come with me to the Estadio Chile were he had last seen Víctor Jara  alive, later treated me and  was totally knocked out by my dental work by another Victor, Victor Poots).

Mr Moran the dentist said he would see me first thing 9 am the following
morning Friday.  At 7am I thought maybe I should tell the hospital so rang
the oncologist-on-call who said I could have no invasive surgery or
tooth removal without having  my blood checked to make sure it was
strong enough in clotting terms  for me to have any treatment. I declined his  invitation
to go into the hospital then and have a test as it might take time,
deciding instead  to go to the dentist and find out what the state of
play was. The doctor took the dentist’s phone number and said he
would follow up which he did.

It  turned  out it  was a root filled tooth and already exposed with little flesh around
it (!) so Mr Moran was  able to cut it back gently to  give it a small stubby
existence  without any invasive touching of my gums. This was highly
successful. There was some debate between the oncologist-on-call as
to when would be ideal time to have it out.  He recommend 3-4 days
following  my 3rd life infusing chemotherapy day which sounded
inappropriate to me as that week is notable for side effects to do
with cold and tingling in hands and feet,  electric  shock like pins
and needles in extremities so it sounded as if it could be
unpleasant.  (I now do not shower or wash my hair  for the first 5-7
days after infusion treatment I just use wipes as showers make the
whole body tingle, a real  argh!)

To double check I rang the personal secretary of  my oncologist Dr
Dawson explaining  the situation (there seems to be no easy feed
back within the NHS between doctros about patient queries  although the original  info about the broken tooth  may have been added to my computer file). I suggested
that the third week of my treatment  when I am pill free giving  the body
has time to recuperate before the next treatment cycle and  things return to ‘normal’ might be the optimum moment and she ‘phoned back to  concur.

In order to get the all clear for the tooth extraction  I had to make a
separate blood test appointment at my doctor’s  surgery and get the
doctor to get the result  within 4-5 hours and check it was OK to go
ahead. This took some negotiating but worked in the end with me
making various calls and having a slight  barney with the surgery
receptionist who wanted me to write a special request letter which I
refused to do, asking her to do it instead as i already agreed to
being flagged up as ‘special case’ for NHS Direct and the surgery
(‘just following normal  procedures’)! The blood test was difficult
for the nurse as she could not get blood out of my vein until a
doctor came and basically bent the needle into a deep vein!

In fact it all went extremely well: Mr  Moran took out the tooth totally painlessly using gel and injections  to deaden everything. With his experienced,  deft
approach the tooth came out neatly in two pieces with not too much
of a crunch! So now I have a hole to the side of my mouth, not too unsightly.  Today
Monday 11  July Mr Moran  took out the two stitches he had put in to secure against
bleeding and all is good save a few small sores which will hopefully
clear up with mouth wash.

All  in all it was OK but it took a lot of phone calls all off my own
initiative and  some challenging of conflicting advice to find out
best practice. I guess few people have a broken tooth at this time!

It  reminded me  that I was in the first generation to have my teeth
straightened by an Irish dentist (a pioneer who Mr Poots  knew by
name)  in Rodney Street, Liverpool when I was 12-13 years old. I had
3-4 teeth out to pave the way for the brace from my then  dentist in
Hamilton Square,  Birkenhead.  I was born in Birkenhead and lived for the first
few years of my life in a flat on the first floor of  my Grandparents
Florence  and Arthur’s rented house (a situation which my mother Edith
hated but my parents endured as my father was self-educating himself at night school. He got a job as a plumber  with the gas board and then a job in the gas board centre  in Elklesmere Port as Manager which meant he was able to rent  a gas  board house in Windsor  Drive, Whitby, Ellesmere Port) ).

I have distinct memory of the Hamilton Square dentist’s surgery with white
bowels upstairs and red bowels downstairs where they took teeth out.
A few years ago I returned to Birkenhead with my brother Rod and we
visited key places where we had grown up and where our Scottish
Edinburgh born ballroom dancing, train-driving, Camelaird ship-building working
family (Grandparents, Uncle Jim, Uncle John and Aunty Agnes, Aunty
Mim, all lived) and I took a photo of the dentist surgery which are now offices. Hamilton Square is  today slightly down at heel but still  full of beautiful buildings.

The day I had my brace fitted in Rodney Street  where my mother took me wearing my smart Ellesmere Port Grammar School school uniform (back in those days one had few other clothes, maybe a change or two in my family),  Liberace was visiting Liverpool and signing records at Lewis’s Department store at lunchtime with a glamourous
women in a picture hat at his side. Lewis’s was famous for its escalators at the time and i had never been there before.

My mum Edith bought me a single record of Liberace’s as a treat. Liberace signed the blue cover drawing  a picture of a piano with a candelabra on the back. I knew him as he had an
afternoon piano recital programme which we watched then on TV in black and
white. He always wore a white suit. Did we have a TV then or did we watch it at the neighbours? Well we must have had a TV by early 60s I guess. We certainly did not have a record player until the mid-late 1960s. Forever I associate Liberace with the dentist – he had a   rather nice set of teeth himself and  a huge flashing smile!  I still
have his record today and it is in my special memory box!!

Thank you Mr Moran for amazing treatment, diplomacy and empathy! www.edinburghperiodontics.com

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About Jan Fairley

I am an experienced and passionate ethnomusicologist working as an arts and music journalist and broadcaster, writer and editor as well as researcher, lecturer, radio presenter and producer. I have a breadth of organising experience at home and abroad. I am a fluent Spanish speaker. I love travelling and have worked abroad (notably Chile 1971-3 and again in 1994) and researched in Cuba, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Finland.
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