To borrow from conventional wisdom, there is nothing worse than having insult added to injury. But "insult" is somewhat ambiguous in that old adage. It could represent a great many things – for example, calling a recently-paralyzed friend "stiffy." That would be an insult in the classical sense of the term. However, what is often overlooked is the insult one faces upon receiving medical treatment. Sure, falling off the chair lift and through the roof of the ski lodge was painful and humiliating, but not nearly as much as when that group of sultry co-eds stopped by the hospital to find you strung up like a mummified marionette with tubes running up holes in which they have no place even jogging. The fall may have hurt, but the feelings of ineptitude fostered by the on-looking flock of foxes . . . well, that just stings.

Admittedly, I've never suffered any such stinging injury. But I did have a root canal recently, which at least has the reputation of being agonizing. I knew ahead of time that the procedure would involve the fastening of a "'temporary crown,' which I'd have for a week or so while the permanent solution was crafted in "'the lab.' What I did not know was that this temporary crown would be an obtrusive, oversized hunk of metal glimmering in the back of my mouth. Had I known this ahead of time, I . . . well, there isn't much I could've done, though I certainly would've drooled on more of the doctor's stuff.

To me, calling the tinfoil cap that's presently gouging into my gums a "'temporary crown' suggests some type of fleeting, royal designation. I assure you that this is not the case, though the hunk of steel in my mouth is probably composed of the same metal as a medieval crown, with a shape not far off. In an attempt to disguise the bright aluminum casing, my crown was contoured to look like a real tooth. Based on a post-operation review, I can say with confidence that my metal tooth does not look like:

An automobile
A llama
A tooth
What my crown does look like is some three-dimensional relief map of the Pyrenees, if such a map were to be made out of metal and bite-sized. It's the type of thing a prospector would see out of the corner of his eye at the bottom of a riverbed and start pick-axing after. Appropriately, my mouth is perpetually one liter of saliva and drool away from qualifying as a stream.
(On that note, my oral whirlpool displayed a particularly susceptibility to power tools during the procedure, as one could've stripped paint with the torrents of water firing from my mouth. Fortunately, the doctor was kind enough to take breaks while drilling so I could towel off my face.)

I spent the drive home tuning FM radio through my bicuspid and grumbling about the heinous relationship that exists between the severity of injury and its degree of humiliation. At what point was it decided that debilitating injuries must be accompanied by an equally mortifying remedy? Scratch a finger and you deal with an inconspicuous band-aid. Break a finger and face a moderately-troublesome splint. Break a lower arm and get an inconvenient lower arm cast; break an upper-arm and deal with an immobilizing full-arm cast. Have an arm cut off and you . . . don't have an arm. Neglect an infected cavity for four years and receive an iron-capped root canal. I tell you, it's just not fair.

There is one exception: shock. Shock exists to protect you from absolutely overwhelming pain, but from what I hear (I've got a biology minor, people) it only kicks in if a tree falls through your chest or a bear bites your head. And shock won't make you feel any better when your wheelchair tips off a curb and dumps you into a puddle. That's a whole different kind of pain.

Of course, I say all this as though I'm presently experiencing it. Truth be known, my root canal went off without much event. I was number than Ted Williams when the drilling took place, and the silver toga on my tooth is barely visible behind my lips and billboard-like teeth. If I've made it seem as though my root canal was unbearable, it was only for dramatic effect. In a few days, after the doctor has switched out the temporary crown for a completely indistinguishable permanent one, I'll walk out of his office painless and peaceful, readily admitting that my crown really wasn't humiliating.

Saturating the doctor's feet with drool, on the other hand, may very well be.