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75. Open Wide and Say Your Prayers
Three months had passed. It was time for
to visit his dental hygienist again. The visit
lasted two to three hours. The hygienist always
through a list of questions about his health.
she took his pulse and blood pressure. Last,
ran her gloved finger all around the inside
his mouth, looking for and feeling for abnormalities.
this visit, she found one. It was a
spot on the side of his tongue. “We
see this in smokers’ mouths,” she told him.
called the dentist over.
“How long has that
there?” he asked Tony.
“I have no idea,”
“We’re going to have to do a
,” the dentist said. “It won’t require more than
or three stitches. We have to make sure
spot is benign. We’ll do it right after
teeth are cleaned.”
Tony couldn’t eat anything except
for a couple of days after the surgery,
could he pronounce words clearly. If the white
were malignant, how much more surgery would be
? How much of his tongue would be removed?
regretted all those years of smoking.
, the dentist removed the stitches and told Tony
the white spot was benign. Tony was relieved.
few days afterward, Tony was talking to a
of his who was a long-time smoker. “You
ought to quit,” he suggested. “That was a
scare I just got from my dentist. Getting
of your tongue cut out is not a
“I'm not worried. You’ve got to die
something. I've got a greater chance of getting
by a drunk driving a white SUV than
some white spot on my tongue. Besides, this
my only vice. I need to be able
enjoy something in life, don’t I?”