Most of January 1995 was spent with my brother-in-law, Tom Maling, seeing to medical issues. His son, Andy Maling, applied to my company, Basil Read Construction’s Plant Division, to attend their practical course in mechanical engineering for a year. After several interviews which cut the many applicants down to six, he was accepted. He was then introduced to the other successful applicants. By an astonishing coincidence, among the other five was my own son, Ryan Earle, also studying mechanical engineering. I had had no idea that he had applied, and he had not mentioned to them that I worked for the company. When they were introduced, the man in charge was astounded that they not only knew each other; they were almost related!
In between waiting in Johannesburg for results from various medical tests for my headache problem, there was time to have my dental plate repaired. It continuously cracked in the middle due to a poor fit across the roof of my mouth.
While prodding around in my mouth, the Chinese lady dentist I had gone to see tore something in my upper jaw which went septic. I was put on antibiotics and sent to the Wits University Dental School for free x-rays. A couple of white spots in the area made them tell me to return the following week for a biopsy.
The Faculty of Dentistry was formed in 1926 out of the Faculty of Medicine. From January 1, 1997 the two faculties were amalgamated once more as the Faculty of Health Sciences. The old dental faculty is now the School of Oral Health Science.
It was like a scene out of the TV series, MASH.
Dentist A (student) put me in a chair that would not tilt enough to accommodate my height of six-feet-four. The water was not running in the spit-bowl, thus it was full of coagulated blood and spit, so I had to wait for another chair to be vacated. He gave me a vial of anaesthetic which was the most painful jab I’ve ever had, then muttered to Dentist B that he had to go and get some more. While he was out, Dentist B gave me another half a vial, then he went out. Dentist A came back and gave me another jab! My face got so numb that only half my throat could swallow.
They cut open my gum, intending to take the biopsy, only to find that the white spots were the remaining roots of a wisdom tooth. They managed to extract them, then by accident squirted me in my left eye with the water jet. When I started to laugh, they panicked, thinking I was having a fit. As I was getting out of the chair, Dentist A tried to turn off the dripping water jet but turned it on instead, squirting me in the other eye. The wad of gauze he had put in my mouth tickled my throat, causing me to throw up into the trash can.
What a scream! Despite the weird goings-on, I was grateful for the free treatment, and the hilarious story it produced.