I go to the dentist today. This is the fifth time in as many weeks...so you can tell I've been having a great freaking month here. All the others have been new or replaced fillings, plus a cleaning.
But today...I get crowned. If you've never gotten crowned, let me tell you...it's fun. They use the industrial-strength novocaine that lasts 12 hours, and they drill out a large chunk of your teeth. Then they put a temp crown in there, because it takes a while for the mold to set, and you come back a week later and get the real thing put in.
These two will be #s 2 and 3. Let me tell you, I'm psyched. Okay, not really, but at least I'm not hyperventilating and shaking.
Which is what I would've done last year. See, my dentist was a complete asshole. I'm cursed with bad teeth, and I do my very best to keep up with everything that needs done. I hate every second of it, but it's important...you know, so my teeth don't fall out or anything. And I know a lot of people who either have bad teeth and do nothing about it, don't go to the dentist, or who have great teeth and still don't bother. I know some people don't have the money, but when you have dental insurance, man...there's just no excuse. I'm terrified, and I freaking do it anyhow.
So I'm rather proud of myself for this. I'm a good little girl, doing what I need to do, even though I hate it.
You can imagine, then, what it must do to a girl when her dentist calls her names...even as he has the novocaine needle deep into her gums. Yeah, it doesn't seem very nice to me, either.
"Oh, stop. You're so yellow." (Yes, I think he thinks he's a cowboy or something.)
"Come on. No need to be a chicken, dammit."
What did I do to incur such contempt? Scream? Run in terror from that godforsaken needle? Cry?
Nope. Not once. I squirm a bit when I really feel that bite in my gums (or, with that one shot, in my nose)...but I keep my head still. Mainly I moan a bit and clutch the seat, my knuckles turning white. I don't let my reaction to pain cause problems for the dentist. But I gotta do something, 'cause man, that hurts sometimes.
So why did he call me names? I have no clue--and I think that's why I kept going to him for so long. It wasn't that I liked it--oh no--but that I had to figure out why. I had to be better and better every time, so that maybe I would be good enough to not get called names. I put his office into my phone as "Evil Dentist", and every time his receptionist called, my stomach tied itself into knots. And I felt worse and worse with each appointment (and keep in mind, I don't just go to the dentist twice a year). Until, one day before an appointment, I was about to pop a zanax and I realized that, even with medical sedatives, I couldn't bear the thought of seeing that man. I started having a panic attack and freaking out, and I ended up sending my husband up to cancel the appointment for me (he had an appointment up there too) and, most of all, explain to them that I couldn't see that dentist anymore.
I've gotten much better at dealing with conflict and confrontation in recent years, but there are just some things I can't face. Evil dentists are on that list.
So he went up there, and the receptionist told him--get this--this has happened before. Evidently, this dentist calls other people names when he has a needle in their mouth.
"Yeah, we've had people who couldn't even see him without getting a panic attack," she said, when she called to quietly request that I give them another try.
Now, obviously, you're thinking, "there's no way she goes there anymore...". Well, I go, and I feel a lot better. I go to Dr. Evil's son, who just so happens to be Dr. Really Nice and Dammit, Even Kinda Cute. They're in the same practice, but man...you wouldn't even know they're related. And I only see Dr. Evil in passing in the hall, or up at the front desk from time to time.
I still don't look forward to it...I don't think anyone could truly make me eagerly anticipate climbing into that chair. But my hands are steady, and my breathing is even, and I'm not even thinking about fleeing the country.
And that feels pretty damn good.
If you don't feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn't very vital. If you don't feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough. --John Irving