I’ve been out of action the last couple of days thanks to oral surgery which left me with a hole where two teeth used to be. It wasn’t the most pleasant procedure, but since I have a good dentist and he has a good assistant, I was only in the chair for about 90 minutes.

First, he cracked the bridge I had over the two back teeth on the bottom left (actually, only one real tooth). Then he extracted the tooth, which was in serious trouble, leaving a hole where it and the bridge had been. Next came the fun part, as he drilled down into my jawbone to make a hole so he could screw in two implants that will be in there permanently. Then he filled in around the implants with bone grafts (from a dead person, thank you very much!) to keep everything in place, and sutured everything closed, including the gum line he’d had to cut open to get in there. My bone will eventually grow around the implants, keeping them in place. I go back in 2 weeks for a checkup, then will eventually have crowns put over those implants to act as teeth.

I had to make sure he didn’t prescribe any narcotic painkillers like the ones I had major trouble with in the hospital three years ago when I had my back and gall bladder surgeries. That meant no Percocet or Oxycontin, but rather Tylenol with codeine, which isn’t as effective as hydrocodone, but it doesn’t make me super-nauseous and unable to walk around, so it’s my best option. I’m also on antibiotics and steroids (anti-inflammatory), which temporarily took the bass out of my deep macho voice.

I spent all day Wednesday slightly dizzy and a little bit off my game mentally. I decided not to speak out loud because it made the pain worse, and my dentist recommended keeping it to a minimum for a day. My wife and daughter were both at work, and the phone rarely rings at home, so it was easy to get by with zero conversation.

Yesterday was my birthday, but I asked everyone to keep it as low-key as possible, and they did. I was still only eating soft foods — thankfully, chocolate ice cream qualifies, and that was my birthday treat. Today, I’m back on a regular diet, off the painkillers, on the treadmill again, and a little bit sore, but the weirdest part is noticing that my tongue migrates towards the space where the teeth used to be (and eventually will be again), as if it were pining after long-lost friends. There’s probably a name for it, but I call it Lonely Tongue Syndrome.

The good news is I’m ready for the London Olympics, because even with a reduced teeth total, I’m still ahead of your average Englishman.