After just having my own top two wisdom teeth extracted last month, I became inspired to write this little short story. Now most of the people that I've talked to that have also had theirs remvoved tell me that they were simply given a local anesthetic, whereby the area of extraction is numbed but they still remain conscious. The only reason why I went with a general aneshetic, whereby you're completely unconscious, was because I also had an implant installed to replace one of my front incisors. So to be awake while the oral surgeon drills into your jaw bone and then screws in a titanium post....... uh, no thank you, wake me when it's over. Anyway, enough from my dental diary, hope you all enjoy "Akira's Wisdom".
"Takumi, Takumi, you're not going to believe what I just got!"
Calling out at the top of his lungs and frantically running to greet his friend, Takumi's overly excited classmate was totally winded by the time he caught up with him at the entrance to the boy's dormitory.
"Hajime, take it easy. You're all out of breath. What's got you so excited?"
Hunched over and still gasping to catch his breath, Hajime eagerly began to explain, "Two… two tickets… the premiere… next week."
"Premiere? The premiere of what? You mean a movie?"
"Not… not just any movie," he prefaced, finally beginning to catch his breath. "Who's the greatest living anime director today?"
"Living? Uh, well I guess that would have to be Hayao Miya…" Takumi stopped himself short as he suddenly realized, "MIYAZAKI? Hajime, do you mean to say that you've got…"
Acknowledging his awestruck friend with a nod and a big contented grin, Hajime then held up the two tickets that he had been tightly clutching in his hand and presented them to Takumi.
Takumi was at a total loss as he closely scrutinized the two small strips of paper as if they were gold.
"I… I don't believe this. Hajime, these are for the premiere of the new Miyazaki film that's opening next week."
"And it says that they're going to be giving away to everyone who attends a signed copy of his latest art book."
"I know," Hajime happily acknowledged, sharing in the excitement of his friend.
"And this says… wait is this right?" Takumi couldn't believe his eyes as he did a double take. "This says that Miyazaki himself will be there to introduce the film."
"I know, isn't it great? I can't wait!"
"Hajime, how'd you ever get these?"
"Just one of the many perks of being in the drama club."
"Well, that and the fact that our stage manager, Kohei-san, has an older brother who works at that theater and just happened to have an extra pair of tickets."
"Cool. Man, I still can't get over it. And you actually want me to go with you?"
"Of course, you're my best friend after all."
"Thank you, Hajime, I really appreciate it."
"No problem," he graciously acknowledged as he then spied Akira approaching. "Oh, hey, Akira-san. Well, I gotta get going. I'm meeting up with Kyoko-chan at the library and she hates it when I'm late. See you later."
"Bye. So, Akira, how'd it go at the dentist today?"
"Ron't ask," she despondently replied, slurring her speech.
"Uh oh. Sounds like your mouth is still a bit numb from the local anesthesia that the dentist gave you, which can mean only one thing. You had a cavity."
Feeling somewhat embarrassed, Akira didn't directly acknowledge him but instead merely held up two fingers.
"Two cavities? Oh, Akira. You really need to take better care of your teeth. It's probably from all that gum chewing. You should at least switch to sugarless gum."
"Rease ron't recture me," she attempted to get out. "I arready rad to rear it rom the rentist, I ron't reed to rear it rom you roo."
Not wishing to make fun of her situation, Takumi couldn't help but to chuckle at her slurred speech. Quickly biting his lower lip to contain himself, he then had to clasp a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing.
"I'm… I'm sorry, Akira, I didn't mean to laugh. I know that both of your cheeks are still numb from the anesthesia. Maybe it's best if you didn't talk too much right now. You might accidentally bite your tongue or your cheeks. You obviously can't eat yet either. Did he say how much longer it would be before it wears off?"
Not wishing to provide any more fodder for his amusement by responding, Akira simply held up three fingers.
"Three hours? Hmmm, that won't be till seven o'clock and you'll be pretty hungry by then. Well, at least that gives me more than enough time. Tell you what, why don't you come on up to my room and we'll work on our homework for awhile and then after that I'll get started on dinner. I'll make your favorite, okay?"
Akira then shook her head and waved her hands in front of her as if to tell him not to go through so much trouble.
"Don't worry about it, I don't mind. Besides, with what you've been through, you deserve a nice meal."
Extremely grateful for the kind gesture, Akira flashed him an appreciative smile before the two headed up to his dorm.
"Let's see, a sprig of parsley to garnish," Takumi said to himself as he put the finishing touches on their meal. "Hmmm, I guess it looks alright."
"Takumi, don't worry so much about how it all looks," Akira contended while peering into his kitchen, the local anesthesia now pretty much worn off.
"Akira, I told you to wait."
"Anyway, the presentation of the meal is just as important as how it tastes."
"If you say so. But we're going to eat it all anyway. Well, I know I am because I'm absolutely famished."
"I'm sure you must be since you didn't have much this afternoon for lunch."
"Well had I known that a routine teeth cleaning was going to turn into such a big ordeal I would have eaten more beforehand."
"Then I won't make you wait any longer. Go ahead and sit down and I'll bring it right out to you."
"Can I help you with anything?"
"Um, if you could take the teapot and set it on the table that would be great."
"Thanks. So what's in here?" he curiously began to ask, moving aside a small manila envelope on the table and setting down a round serving dish containing the rice. "A new toothbrush and some floss from the dentist to encourage you to take better care of your teeth?"
"Yeah, that and a copy of my x-rays," she informed him, quickly taking her seat and anxiously waiting as Takumi now stood alongside her with a serving dish.
"X-rays?" Takumi stopped short of ladling the food onto her plate.
"Uhh…" a disappointed and hungry Akira uttered.
"Okay, Akira, what else did the dentist have to say?"
"Wha… what do you mean? I already told you," she persisted, continuing to eye the food that never quite made it to her plate. "Aside from those two cavities, I'm fine."
"Hmmm," he suspiciously eyed her.
"The only time a dentist gives you a copy of the x-rays is when the patient requests them or, more commonly, to show to a specialist that he wants you to see."
Too hungry to argue, Akira conceded, "Alright, fine. He wants me to go to an oral surgeon to have my top two wisdom teeth removed. They just started to come in but they're coming in on an angle, which would one day cause them to be impacted."
"Oh. Well why didn't you just tell me that in the first place?" Takumi questioned, once again taking the serving spoon in hand and preparing to place a large portion onto her plate. "So when are you going to have them removed?"
"I'm not," she informed him, looking on in anticipation as the food nearly came in contact with her plate.
"What?" he said in disbelief, his hand retreating as he returned the serving spoon back into its dish.
"Hey! Come on, Takumi, cut that out. I'm hungry."
"What do you mean you're not?"
"Oh come on, what's the big deal? I'm only sixteen so I still have plenty of time. I'll probably get it done eventually."
"Eventually? And when might that be? Akira, this is important," he stressed. "There's a reason that he wants you to have it done now rather than later. I've read that the longer you wait to have them removed, there's a greater chance for complications later. But by removing them now before they've even had a chance to take root, it'll be so much simpler and less painful in the long run."
"Jeez, you sound just like my dentist. If I didn't know any better I'd swear that he put you up to this."
"Of course not. I'm just concerned that's all. Look, I'm sure you could put off having it done for awhile, but wouldn't you rather just get it over with now and not have to worry about it later?"
"Alright, alright. I'll set up an appointment. Happy?"
Nodding and now displaying a smile of content he retorted, "Trust me, you're doing the right thing. And I didn't mean to nag you, it's just that…"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," she graciously acknowledged. "You were just looking out for my well being, and believe me I greatly appreciate it. You know, you always seem to look out for the best interests of other people, putting them ahead of even your own. It's just your nature, I suppose. But I guess it's just one of the many reasons that made me fall madly in love with you."
"Akira," he modestly replied with a tinge of redness in his cheeks.
"Besides, if I didn't agree to go I'd probably starve to death."
"Huh?" he quizzically remarked. Observing her steadfastly eyeing the serving dish, he suddenly recalled that she hadn't eaten since morning. "Oh, sorry."
Quickly ladling the food out onto her plate, Takumi soon discovered just how hungry she really was as she quickly downed two mouthfuls of the marinated beef tenders that he had prepared before he had even had a chance to completely retract the ladle from her plate.
"Akira, take it easy. You'll get a stomachache if you eat it too fast."
"Mmmm, so good," she said with her mouth full. After swallowing she added, "You've really outdone yourself, Takumi. I guess having my wisdom teeth extracted is a small price to pay if it means getting to eat such delicious food."
"Aww, thank you, Akira. I'm so glad you like it," he gratefully replied.
Continuing to marvel at her voracious appetite, Takumi didn't have the heart to tell her that she would only be able to eat liquids and soft foods for the first few days following her surgery.
"Right in here, sir," the young, female dental assistant instructed, guiding Takumi into a small dimly lit room.
Lying on a long, padded examination table, intended for recovering patients, a semi-conscious Akira appeared to be resting comfortably.
"She's still a bit groggy from the IV sedation but that should gradually start to wear off."
"IV sedation?" Takumi questioned. "But I thought that you just use a local anesthesia to numb the area."
"We do, but some patients don't wish to be conscious during the procedure. So to accommodate them and to make them feel as comfortable as possible, we'll also use a general anesthesia, which Okuzaki-san opted to go with."
"I don't blame her. I don't think I'd want to be awake for something like that either."
Walking over to where she was resting, Takumi now stood alongside her as he then reached out and took hold of her hand.
"Ta… kumi?" Akira wearily uttered, surprised yet extremely happy to see her friend.
"I'm here, Akira," he reassured her. "Don't worry, it's all over now. How do you feel?"
"O… okay, I guess," she weakly replied, gritting her teeth as she spoke.
"Try not to talk too much, Okuzaki-san. We don't want the gauze to shift," the assistant warned. Then turning to Takumi she explained, "Make sure that she continues to bite down, applying pressure to the gauze that's over the surgical areas, at least for the next half hour. The bleeding will have stopped by then. But just in case, here's some extra gauze along with a list of post-op instructions that she'll need to follow."
"Thank you," Takumi acknowledged, receiving a small plastic bag from the assistant.
"Her prescriptions, which you'll need to fill, are also in there," she added. "The doctor has prescribed her an antibiotic, an oral mouth rinse and, in case she needs them, some pain killers. Uh, do you have a ride home or would you like me to call a cab for you?"
"Oh, I didn't think of that," Takumi realized. "Guess she's in no condition to walk to the subway station."
"I wouldn't advise it."
"I'll be able to walk," Akira stubbornly insisted as she began to sit up, slowly swinging her body around until she was now seated along the edge of the exam table.
"Careful," Takumi warned, grabbing hold of her swaying body and trying to steady her. He then looked to the assistant and requested, "I think we'll be taking a cab."
"A wise choice, sir. I'll go call one to pick you up."
As the assistant left the room, Akira attempted to shake off the slight feeling of drowsiness.
"Take it easy, Akira," Takumi advised.
Hopping up onto the exam table so that he was now seated alongside her, Takumi lovingly placed his arm around Akira. Then taking his other hand, he gently guided her head so that it was now resting upon his shoulder.
"Takumi," she quietly uttered.
"Shhh, don't try to speak. Just relax, you've been through a lot and your body needs to rest. Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. I'll take care of you."
Though the effect of the anesthesia had not yet worn off, Takumi's reassurance and his soothing smile had an even stronger calming effect on her. Glancing up into his shimmering eyes, a now serene Akira closed hers and snuggled up even closer against his warm body.
Takumi then suddenly felt the vibration of his cell phone emanating from his pocket. Being careful not to disturb her, Takumi carefully removed it and, in a whisper, quietly answered it.
"Hello? Oh hey, Hajime. Is the movie over already? Huh? Yeah, I'm with Akira right now in recovery and she's resting a bit so I can't talk too loud. What? She is? Oh that's really nice of her, thank you. Okay, well I'll call you later and you can tell me all about it. Thanks again. Bye."
"What movie did he see?" Akira inquired, now raising her head and sitting up straight.
"I'm sorry, Akira, I didn't mean to wake you."
"It's fine. So which movie was it?"
"Oh, he and Kyoko-san went to the premiere of the new Miyazaki film."
"Miyazaki?" Akira was surprised to hear. "That was today?"
"But I thought that he invited you to go with him."
"He did, but I had to turn him down once I found out that your appointment was on the same day."
Akira's jaw then dropped and her eyes shot wide open upon hearing this revelation.
"Akira, keep your mouth closed, you need to keep biting down on the gauze."
Completely ignoring his warning, Akira just shook her head in disbelief, trying to comprehend his actions, remarking, "Ta… Takumi, why didn't you go? You didn't have to be here with me for this."
"Yeah I know, but I wanted to. Besides, I did sort of pressure you into having this done right away. Don't worry, it's okay. Oh, but guess what? Hajime said that Kyoko-san felt bad that I couldn't go and is giving me her copy of the program and the signed art book that they gave away. Isn't that nice of her?"
"Yes but, I still didn't want you to have to miss out on this just because of me. I mean, I remember how excited you were when Hajime invited you. In fact, you couldn't stop talking about it all last week."
"Some things are just more important," he declared. "Akira, don't you remember when I had my heart transplant operation? You sat in that waiting room for over five hours, plus you didn't even eat anything. So the least I could do was wait a short ninety minutes for you. Your appointment just happened to fall on the same day as my movie, that's all. And naturally the choice was obvious as to which took precedence. Besides, there was just no way that I could blow off something like this just to go to some movie."
"Well that's very considerate of you but…"
"Akira, you're the most important person in my life; everything else pales in comparison. I love you too much to let anything, no matter how small or insignificant, to ever come between us."
"Oh Takumi, I…"
Extremely touched at his heartfelt sentiment as well the sacrifice that he had made, Akira began to get emotional, prompting her to throw her arms around him in an affectionate hug, unable to contain her tears.
"There's a cab waiting for you outside whenever you feel you're ready to… Oh my," the concerned dental assistant remarked as she returned to the room. "Okuzaki-san, are you alright? Are you in any pain?"
"She's fine," Takumi assured her, maintaining his supportive embrace on Akira. "She's just so overwhelmed that the procedure is finally over with that she just can't contain herself."
"Idiot! That's not it at all and you know it," she defensively shot back, wiping the tears from her eyes.
Maybe it was the anesthesia talking, but for someone who was extremely shy when it came to discussing her personal life, Akira didn't seem to care at that moment who knew what her feelings for Takumi were.
Turning to the dental assistant she unabashedly explained, "It's because he always thinks of other people, never of himself. So even if it means missing out on something that he had his heart set on, he won't even think twice about it, just so long as he's able to make someone else happy. But, that's just the kind of person he is. Unselfish, caring, and extremely loving."
"A… Akira," a most humbled Takumi remarked at her straightforward confession.
"Wow," the rather impressed dental assistant expressed, looking to Takumi. "He sounds like a prince. Wish my boyfriend had all those great qualities. You're a very lucky young woman, Okuzaki-san."
A now embarrassed and beet-red Takumi stammered, "Uh, I think uh… I think that maybe we should go. Don't want to keep the cabdriver waiting."
Hopping down off the exam table, Takumi then extended his hand to Akira, helping her down.
"See what I mean," Akira pointed out to the dental assistant, who was now helping Takumi hold Akira steady, "always thinking of others."
Now walking between her, and, with a firm grip on each of her arms, the two escorted a rather giddy Akira outside and into the waiting cab.
"Watch your head, Akira," Takumi cautioned as she entered the cab.
Before he could close the door, Akira looked over to the dental assistant and commented, "You're right, he is a prince, and I'm so very lucky to have him." Once again becoming uncontrollably misty-eyed, she added, "I love him so much that when I get home I just want to take him in my arms and…"
Quickly closing the cab's door, a thoroughly flustered Takumi turned to a now most intrigued dental assistant, attempting to justify Akira's candid remarks.
"Uh, heh heh. She, uh, she's obviously still under the influence of the anesthesia."
Not wishing him any further embarrassment, the dental assistant simply looked to Takumi with a huge beaming smile.