I am not the only girl in the world who looks forward to long waiting room intervals at doctor or dentist offices. Where else does one get a good chunk of uninterrupted time to read? Not even being locked in the bathroom compares, because when you’re in the bathroom you can still hear them clawing outside the door to let you know: “James just licked my bowl of oatmeal and when I told him to stop he just laughed and started running in circles and now he’s outside with the cat and he says he’s gonna give it a bath in that one bucket you told us not to touch but I think maybe he’s trying to drown it because he’s just being naughty today so are you almost done in there because I need some toilet paper cause our bathroom ran out and bobo won’t help me find my pencil.” My eye is twitching.
So anyways, on Wednesday I was looking forward to my dentist visit so I could finish my book. But first some background… I told you a week ago that I went in and the dentist said I needed a cavity filled, right? And then they said I’d have to wait until August because they were going on vacation. I thought I could make that work, but nope, I couldn’t. My jaw has been KILLING me. So I made an appt with a different dentist, Dr Robert Self. I am not kidding. That’s his real name. I went in at the appointed time, and then sat in the parking lot for over a half hour and started getting opposite of happy and gracious because the doors stayed locked and all the lights in the bldg were off. I went home to call them, full of Self-loathing, and even their line didn’t pick up. So then I got online and found the confirmation email they had sent – in order to send them a sweet little note in return about how hot their parking lot is – and I saw that my appt was scheduled for *Thursday*. Not Wednesday.
Ok, so since I was no longer appalled at the lack of professionalism on their part, I went ahead and kept my Thursday appt. And guess what the new dentist said? He said, “You don’t need a cavity filled… You need a ROOT CANAL”. And all these nurses in black frothy funeral gowns floated in and they twisted up their green faces and chanted, “You’re gonna die. You’re gonna DIE. YOU”RE GONNA DIE”
So after the first two hot flashes passed, I mustered up some pretend sanity and told the guy: “Nuh-uh, the other dentist just said it only needed to be filled”. So he pulled out the X-ray and proved it to me. And the reason I knew he wasn’t lying, is because he said, “It hurts all the time, right? Cavities don’t keep you up at night, but what you have certainly would do that. Root Canal”
I told him, “Fine, I’ll come back, but I need to warn you, I have an inordinate fear of anything medical – seriously. I feel like I’m gonna have a heart attack just thinking about it” So he said, “No problem, we’re gonna give you some valium and then hook you up to the gas machine and you’ll sleep thru the whole thing”.
So the next morning (which happened to be yesterday) I took the little valium pill that he told me to take an hour before my appt. And boy did that thing kick in fast. Dippy came in to show me a letter that he got from Mr. Grand, but all the letters kept hop scotching. Geoff the Great drove me over (I remember little of the drive), then he took me into the waiting room, and then they brought me down a hallway – boy was I feeling dopey – and then they put me in that diabolical chair and immediately – and I mean immediately – I snapped right back to my normal self. No dizziness, no loopiness, no giddiness. It was gone. GONE. When the nurse came in and asked me how I felt I told her, “Well I was nice and doped up, but, uh. I, uh. I’m too alert. I can’t do this. I think I need to go home”. So she patted my arm (which normally would have really irritated me, but didn’t this time) and said, “Let’s talk to Dr. Self, first” So he came in, and by this time I was shaking and sweating and my heart was galloping, and he said, “Here, put this on and breath deep and you’ll be out in a couple seconds and everything will be fine”
So I nodded and let them strap this elephant trunk over my face and started breathing. After about three minutes I looked over at the nurse and said, “When’s this stuff sposed to kick in?” and she sort of laughed and said, “It’s supposed to start working as soon as you breath it” So I told, “I think your tank is empty” and she said, “Nope, it’s full” So I said, “I think somebody accidentally filled it with regular air” and she said, “Ha ha”. Then I asked, “Do you have it turned up? Maybe you should turn it up” And she said, ‘we’ve been turning it up this whole time and now it’s going full blast – are you breathing thru your nose?” Am I breathing thru my nose? I was snorting my head off trying to get that gas to do its dumb job. So we all just kept sitting there staring at each other and waiting for me to pass out – the Dr. was a lot more patient that I would have been with a panicked lunatic in my chair.
After about three more minutes I said, “How bout you give me another one of those valium. It worked earlier… maybe I just need a higher dosage”. I felt pretty doctor-ly-ish because they all thought that was a good plan. I ended up taking THREE, and the last one they told me to chew. Ok… first of all, don’t take valium. Second of all, don’t chew valium. That stuff tastes like burnt sewage.
The nurse said, “Honey, you just need to calm down –that stuff is sure to kick in”.
Ten minutes later, now being totally doped up on enough valium to knock out a large elephant, and nearly hyperventilating as I furiously sucked that gas through my nose, I looked over at the nurse and said, “uh… what else do you got?”
Then Dr. Self said, “Look, you can come back some other day and we can try this again if you want, but seriously, the longer you wait the worse that tooth is gonna get”.
So I started maniacally inhaling that non existent gas and told him, “No, that’s ok, I’m ok, I think I’m ok, just get it over with” and then I started shaking so hard that my flip flop fell off.
I have to hand it to Self, both he and the nurse showed extraordinary patience. So he told me to open my mouth – that was not easy. As ridiculous as this sounds, I almost started crying. After about 15 minutes I asked the nurse, “Could you please turn up that gas? Please?” And she told me again that it was all the way up and I should be knocked out cold”. And then the doctor told me, “This is gonna take about an hour and a half, but you won’t feel anything because I’ve completely numbed up your mouth”
That’s when I *really* panicked, and I told them, “Ok, listen, this will sound weird, and I’m sorry for being such a pain, but I can’t do this unless you bring my husband back here and let him put his hand on my head”.
So about 15 seconds later they were all making introductions and my husband had his thumb pressed into my forehead and was winding locks of my hair through his fingers. And within about thirty seconds I was in this lovely, dreamy half conscious state. Every time I opened my eyes my husband was standing over me gently pulling his fingers through my hair. That dental procedure was the fastest 15 minutes of my life – at least it felt about 15 minutes. Geoff the Great stood there for almost two hours through the whole thing. When we left, the nurses and the dentist kept repeatedly telling him how glad they were to have him back there. Then we went home and I slept like a cow for the rest of the day and all thru the night.
In a week and a half I need to go back in to get a crown put on, which, naturally, means I’m a princess.