“I guess my tooth was infected so they were telling me I had to take some antibiotics and come back in a week or something so I just drove around Mexico for a week,” Gunther explained.
As Murphy’s Law would dictate, Gunther crashed his motorcycle on the way back to the dentist’s office. In an attempt to brace his fall with his hand, Gunther broke his hand and did what only John Gunther would do next.
“I stuck my hand out and it broke everywhere,” Gunther laughed. “I’m thinking, ‘Well I gotta get this stupid tooth fixed,’ so I went to the dentist anyway and they’re all concerned but they went on to work on my tooth.”
With concerns over his shattered hand and the state of his bike in a foreign country fresh in his mind, the alpaca shearer was quickly reminded his dental situation was nothing to forget about. Smoke, drills and foreign soil gave Gunther an experience even he was bewildered by.
“They were working on it forever and they called some other doctor and they were working on it forever, so there were definitely some problems. They brought over this thing to cauterize it and you could see, like, smoke coming out. It wasn’t good but it was super cheap,” Gunther explained with a laugh. “I’m not very confident that they were very good at what they were doing because they did a root canal and they were in there for like five hours and then they were like, ‘Come back tomorrow.’”
Ordering Gunther to stay yet another day for what seemed to be a simple dental procedure gave him a night to go to the hospital and get his hand looked at. A one day in and out for breaking his hand through the skin wasn’t exactly expected but John Gunther has made a life out of “the unexpected.”
Now in his second procedure of the day, Gunther still had the energy to try to explain to Spanish-speaking nurses and doctors that he had a fear of being put under. Despite his best efforts, he eventually found himself unconscious.
“I’m so nervous about getting knocked out,” Gunther explained. “I was like, ‘Can you just numb it on the hand?’ They were trying to explain to me that they don’t have the tool or something; I’m not sure, they didn’t speak that good of English. They stuck a needle in my arm to try and hit a nerve and then they started cutting and it did not work at all. I was just trying to grit through it. They must have saw it because eventually I remember waking up, so they must have knocked me out.”
For those of you keeping score, Gunther was days into the trip of a lifetime that some don’t make it back from and had managed to not only make it only one country south but also cost himself a hand and a tooth in the process.
A week in Mexico, three dentist appointments and an emergency surgery were nothing compared to the concern over what he was going to do in Mexico with no transportation. Gunther rigged his bike up to his wrist to help accelerate since he could no longer close his hand. It was a decision left for only the desperate and creative.
On his way to the dentist for the final visit, Gunther made the most unlikely of friends that would save him from the most dangerous, miserable motorcycle rides of anybody’s life. A Canadian truck driver looking for another English-speaking person to talk to just happened to be driving north, through Ohio. Not only was Gunther thankful for the life-saving drive back to the States, he was equally as enthusiastic to learn about the man along the way.