Hodge: Bradley Nelms, I’ll never forget you

He drilled me in the mouth with his Batman lunch bucket

As he loomed over my prostrate and confined body, sharp pointy instruments of pain in his hand, the daunting question popped into my terrified mind, ‘How did I get here?’

I lost conscience soon after.

Some forty-five minutes later, as I slowly climbed out of the pit of la-la land, the first shades of an answer oozed forth. I had asked for it.

Likely the source for my remorse was imbedded in a lifetime of neglect, abuse, and fear. As the sedation drugs slowly disappeared my brain admitted the horrendous pain in my mouth from yet another surgically removed tooth was largely my own damn fault. None of which eased the pain.

Like many, I’ve harboured a fear of dentists, or more specifically the pain of dental work, from early childhood. I like to think my fear is deeply rooted (all pun intended) for good reason, however in truth I’m simply a wimp when it comes to toothaches or pain anywhere inside the head. Broken bones, torn muscles, cuts, bruises anywhere else in my body I actually tolerate pretty good, however when it comes to anything above the shoulders I’m a wus.

All that said and done, as I lay in the chair awaiting the return of the oral surgeon I felt exhausted from my fourth surgery in less than three weeks—including extractions and two various tubes to draw out the poison and infection that had turned my face into a puffball of pain. What started out as an abscessed molar had become a very significant and dangerous scenario.

In retrospect the ‘neglect, abuse and fear’ likely started with a genetic disposition for weak teeth combined with roots the size of a horse and a high resistance to freezing. As a kid basic dental work was hell because I was never properly frozen most of the time.

My youthful nightmarish procedures inspired avoiding dentists as often as possible—thus the vicious cycle of neglect. A car accident, hockey puck slap-shot in the face, and several years of martial arts’ tournaments also extracted (literally) their toll. In recent years a lack of funds was the main factor.

Now I was paying the price in a couple of ways.

As the mind recalled my dental history I found recourse to grin in a sardonic flashback of irony. My first molar memory had been precipitated by an incident occurring precisely 20 feet beneath the exact location I was currently sitting —now the home of Okanagan Oral Surgery on West Ave.

It was some 52 years earlier and I was in Grade 3 at Raymer Elementary. If I remember correctly my life was largely consumed with playing hockey, marbles, and chasing Grade 4 girls around the school (I preferred more mature girls in those days). To the best of my knowledge I had never been in a fight, however that was about to change on that spring day.

I’d just crossed the street and started walking home after school with a bundle of other ragamuffins when fellow student Bradley Nelms announced for no particular reason, “I’m tougher than you are!”

Though generally a pacifist at that point of my life I inexplicably responded, “No you’re not.”

“Am so.”

“Are not!”

“Am so. And I’ll prove it,” at which point he drilled me in the mouth with his Batman lunch bucket, busting a tooth in half. For the next five minutes we rolled around in the muddy field next to school, swinging and grunting and strutting until a teacher pulled us apart. I’m not sure who won or lost, but regardless I was minus most of a tooth and was covered head to foot in mud.

While the tooth hurt like crazy it did not sting as much as my butt did that evening after Dad gave me the belt for fighting and trashing my clothes.

Early the next morning an evil man named Dr. Strillchuck (go figure) instigated my lifetime paranoia for dentists.

I hated Bradley Nelms for at least a week.

And worst of all, the tooth fairy never brought me a cent.

Just Posted

Community Leader Awards: Sheila Gardiner-Watt

The Kelowna Capital News celebrates those in the community who go above and beyond

Mamas for Mamas founder survives with new lease on life

Kelowna’s Shannon Christensen escaped a dangerous situation and lived to tell about it

Announced this week in Kelowna

A listing of some of the events that were announced in the Kelowna area this week

Big White ski instructor named Top 10 in Canada

Big White’s Josh Foster has been selected for the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) Interski team

Kelowna restaurant hosts popular New York Chef

Need something to do this Valentine’s Day?

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Letter: Site C figures not correct

Kelowna letter-writer raises questions about the Site C dam project

Letter: Site C opponents are whining

If native treaty rights are being disrespected, just who is disrespecting them?

Albas: Canada Jobs program being politicized

Conservative MP Dan Albas’ weekly column takes on the student summer job plan

Fuhr: Pension for Life is a commitment to veterans

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr talks about his government’s commitment to veterans

Coquihalla drivers prepare for snow

Wintry conditions persist, with snow warnings for Coquihalla

Rockets take down Royals

Kole Lind has four points and Jack Cowell scores twice as Rockets rebound from 7-2 loss at Seattle

Most Read