Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Daytime Pain and Nighttime Soap"

Call me predictable, even stereotypical: I dread going to the dentist. Sure, Dentist Person may be a very nice individual, well-qualified, and gentle of touch, but I still don't like him/her. Me no want to see Dentist Person.

The deal is that Dentist Person has tools--tiny pickaxes, long needles, shrill drills, and that weird Mr. Thirsty, who tries to suck my tongue right out of my head. All I will say is that, as a rule, I don't need tools inserted into my skull.

What's that, you say? Oh, yea, the drugs. Why do I dread Dentist Person when there are so many nice gasses and shots I can get there to dull my pain? Well, #1, I don't like needles stuck into my dainty pink gums; and #2, I can still hear and smell what's going on, even when I can't feel it, and trust me, the mere sound of the drill, coupled with--get this--the SMELL of burn coming out of my mouth (what are they burning in there, when smoke comes out? This has happened the last couple of times I've gone to the dentist, and it makes me rip at my cuticles with great vigor)...well, my senses get overwhelmed, and I'm forced to resort to deep yoga-like breathing to get through the appointment.

So you can imagine the trauma when, last year, I had my first--and, knock enamel, LAST--root canal. To give him his props, I will say that Dentist Person and his Minions tried to make my experience pleasant; they covered me with a fleece blankie and gave me a polka-dot kneck pillow. Dentist Person even told me a heart-warming story of how he is such a chicken in the dental chair that when he needs work done, he literally wears Depends. The thing about empathy, though, is that it feels hollow when one's jaw is being cranked open for almost four hours by a metallic claw. Dentist Person needed to stop telling me about his "I'm-with-you-sista-undergarments" and just set me free, so I could spiral off into the night and go ice skating at Rockefeller Center with renewed joy in my heart, like Britney did this week after she filed for divorce from her personal root canal, The Federdud.

But he didn't set me free at all.

In fact, the D.P. strapped on his tool belt and started sharpening nutcrackers and nunchucks and screwdrivers and ice axes on a whet stone, and I started breathing shallowly and rapidly, alternately closing my eyes and opening them to let my eyeballs roll around, unable to find distraction in the understated humor of the Dilbert sticker that had been applied to the bright light above me.

What I would have given for a "this last season of Dallas was actually all a dream" escape hatch right about then--COME AND CONVINCE ME IT'S NOT REALLY HAPPENING, BOBBY EWING! But Bobby was out romancing his new wife, that Pollyannaish Pamela Barnes, not caring one whit that she was the daughter of his father Jock's archenemy Digger Barnes or that I was squirming in a reclining chair, panic-stricken. No, he left me there to suffer. But there is justice, I can say, now that I see Patrick Duffy's recent resume features stints on Reba and The Bold and the Beautiful. How far you have fallen, you multi-talented actor, since your triumphant run on Step by Step with the luminous Suzanne Sommers!

Three and a half hours later, heartened by the knowledge that Bobby Ewing was just as much a cad as his brother, JR, I emerged from Dentist Person's office, my wallet much lighter (a little Texas gold would have helped right then), my jaw aching like a sledgehammer had been pounded into it, my face still numb from all those drugs. Four days later, I was still sipping soups and eating overboiled beets in an effort to stop my stomach from growling...just waiting for the day I could again rip into a big ole chunk of longhorn with gusto.

In fact, my tooth was so tender from all Dentist Person's ministrations that it throbbed with a steady beat for several days, much like JR Ewing's oozing chest at the end of Season 3, when his mistress (and wife's sister) Kristin shot him and tried to frame poor, drunk Sue Ellen. The thumping in my tooth, and his heart, was palpable, visceral, yet I knew my misfortune came from genetics more than my decision to sleep with and impregnate my wife's sister. If only Dentist Person wore a big Stetson and some Justin Roper boots along with his Depends! Ah, then I would have felt justified in driving him away from my personal toothy Southfork that day, forcing him into a sanitorium with Sue Ellen...while I remained behind at the ranch, drinking soothing mint teas on the veranda with Miss Ellie and playing Marco Polo in the pool with Lucy and my new boyfriend Kit (who will NOT turn out, next season, to be gay).

4 comments:

emily said...

oh my god, i could have written this entry today! well, not as funny and without the dallas references. i HATE the sounds and smells. i went to the endodontist today for a root canal consult. when i asked what she does for people with fear of the dentist she gave me a referrel to another clinic where they offer nitrous. woo hoo. the idea of nitrous gas doesn't calm me because i will still be able to hear those awful sounds. i am having my first root canal next week, the day before thanksgiving. maybe this is mistake.

Jocelyn said...

Oh, Emily. I am so with you. I'm actually thinking, "Okay, so we'll be driving south the day before Thanksgiving; can we stop at her endodontist's office and offer succor?" You will not, I'm sorry to say, be eating any turkey this year, unless it's been through the blender. My freaking dental dude does not use nitrous in his office because the fumes aren't good for the staff there and because it's become such a liability, with addicts breaking into offices and stealing the stuff, if you can believe it. You are sooooo much in my thoughts this week.

Anonymous said...

Dentists... Yuck. The last time I had to go to the dentist, I started dreading it three full weeks in advance. I couldn't sleep or concentrate or anything. The day that I actually had the appointment, I had a thousand classes and errands to run and I was really stressed. So I sat in the chair and thought about all the stuff I had to do and the order in which I should do them, and I completely forgot to be scared of the dentist. Weird...

Anonymous said...

Thank god I never had a root canal! but yeah, the worst thing about the dentist is the smell of burning tooth from the friction of the drill. The very thought makes me shudder... There is a reason I was never able to watch The Marathon Man.