I consider myself a strong woman.
I don’t mean to boast when I say I feel I am fearless, feisty, and courageous.
And yet there are things that scare me.
The dentist is one of them.
Chalk it up to the bad experiences I’ve had in the past, or the dental office smells that trigger all kinds of bad memories.
Or maybe it’s the fact that that my teeth never feel the same after dental work.
Whatever it is, it fills me with dread and instigates a state of anxiety that cries out for Xanax.
Sadly, today I had to face that dread and to make matters worse, the morning did not begin well.
For starters, the bus driver that was driving me to meet my nemesis seemed to have gotten his driver’s license a few minutes before he picked me up.
He accelerated and braked with such force, I thought I would have to cancel my appointment on account of whiplash.
Instantly, my plans to do breathing exercises and visualization on the way to Dr. Dread’s, were replaced with fervent prayers that I would make it in one piece.
Thankfully, twenty minutes later, I was entering the dental office.
My butt had barely made contact with the seat in the waiting room, when my name was called.
My dentist, (let just keep calling him Dr. Dread, shall we?) greeted me saying, “I saw your name on my patient list this morning and I’ve been mentally preparing for your visit.”
His words, like foreshadowing, further reiterated this was not going to be a good day.
I was ushered into the office by his efficient assistant, whose idea of a handshake was draping a paper bib around my neck.
Dr. Dread wasted no time instructing me to “open wide” and immediately thrust a needle the size of a toothpick into one of my cheeks.
“Now we wait.”
Waiting served to make me aware of my surroundings; the ugly posters of the smiling molars, the bowl of sample-sized toothpastes which appeared just as full since my last visit, and four unlit pillar candles.
Aromatherapy, or had Dr. Dread been socializing after hours?
The thought made me smile but just as quickly frown, as I realized I was sitting in the very chair he might have socialized on.
“Do not move please.”
I tried desperately to channel my nervous energy.
I thought of slow-moving clouds, molasses, and my 90-year-old neighbor who got around with a walker.
I thought of snails, tortoises, and the Son when he was asked to complete a chore.
My heart was beating wildly even though half my face felt like it had gone into hibernation.
“I’m ready. Open.”
A hysterical fit of giggles took over as I realized how funny that sounded.
“If you laugh, we can’t do this.”
This sounded so much like the Signficant Other on a Friday night, it made me laugh even more.
“Bella, I have other patients waiting.”
His terse tone sobered me and allowed him to get to work with his little drill.
This was followed by arduous poking with a metal hook.
Not an easy thing to do with Gloria Estefan telling me to,
“Come on , shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can’t control yourself any longer
Come on , shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can’t control yourself any longer.”
As I wondered why Bach wasn’t playing in the background instead, Dr. Dread was busy making mold impressions of my back teeth with a gelatinous paste so bitter, it activated my gag reflex.
“If you throw up, we have to start over.”
I squelched the vomit rising in my throat, thankful for the mold in my mouth which prevented me from telling him to “shut his pie hole.”
Twenty minutes later, and a crown in place, we were done and I was being handed a tissue by the dour assistant.
Unbeknownst to me, drool had made its way down my chin and was halfway down my neck.
My jaw felt so thick, I was certain it had doubled in size.
“I’ll see you in two weeks.”
Two weeks? What in heavens for?
“We’ll install the crown at that time.”
Oh my goodness, you mean I wasn’t already crowned?
“No candy, hard food, or sticky things like caramel chews. And no flossing.”
No candy? No caramel chews? Oh my God, no.
“Flossing might result in your yanking out the temporary crown and that would be a problem.”
All this agony and it wasn’t even permanent?
“See you in two weeks.”
This time, I didn’t key the dental posters on my way out.
Instead, I swiped a toothpaste from the bowl.
I figured Dr. Dread owed me.