McMurdo journal: Dental Aggravation Ed Stockard June 24, 1995

Dental Aggravation... or as Rocky and Bullwinkle always gave a choice of titles this could also be said: "The Jell-O is usually mellow but this time it was the PITS".

Recently I left my job feeling hungry after a long day spent working on a snow machine. At the galley, I was not very attracted to the food choices available this particular evening. Nonetheless, I picked out a main course and a couple of side dishes and my eye then caught the Jell-O. I had eaten Jell-O fairly often over the summer but not lately. "Hmm.... red with embedded fruit", I thought "this might be just the thing I'm looking for". So I scooped up a sizable portion. I should note that the fruit was of a canned sort since fresh fruit is not available at this time of year in Antarctica (before air drop). I proceeded to a table with a few friends and began my meal and some light conversation. Munch, munch...talk, talk... munch, munch...CRUNCH. What the heck was that! Out came a cherry pit - - so much for dinner, this is the pits".

I wrapped the chunk of tooth and the offending cherry pit in cellophane and made off to my room for the evening. I pondered for the evening what to do, but I really had no choice on this one. I needed to go to medical. So the next day I went and talked with the person who will do dental work. At McMurdo in the winter we have one doctor and no dentist. What we do have are three Navy personnel who have the title of Independent Duty Corpsman or IDC. These people are highly trained professional in several fields of medicine including dental work. I believe they are used on ships and other places where there are not enough persons to warrant a doctor. I had my exam and was faced with a few choices. 1) Do nothing...and suffer. 2) Have the tooth deadened and face a dentist four months late...not wise I thought. 3) Let em have at it and reconstruct my tooth. That sounded like the most sensible thing.

The next day I went back to medical and took my place in the chair. Two very casual and competent corpsmen were ready. Some rock and roll in the background and all the usual sterilized goodies surrounded me as I reclined, a bit apprehensive. The needle appeared and it looked just as big as I remembered. Well, 23 very easy shots later my mouth was as numb as... well it was numb. They set to work...a dental dam seemed to stretch my mouth from McMurdo to Christchurch. "The IDCs are pretty darned good", I thought, as they ground, picked and rummaged around in my mouth. My eyelids were getting heavy and I was almost asleep. The only questionable time was when one said," I do my best work to this song". Two thoughts came to mind before I dozed off 1) I hope this song doesn't finish before he does. 2) if it does, I hope the next song isn't his worst working music.

Well after one follow up to have a bit of the amalgam ground down to correct my bite, I am pleased to say I was very glad I went to the dentist. I do indeed mean "dentist" because those IDCs did a fine job on me and are a tribute to their profession.

But I haven't had Jell-O in a while though.

Later from, Ed on the Ice