I don’t like the dentist. I mean, I like her because she’s a nice lady but when I hear the whirr of a drill I break into a sweat and wish for a quick death.
That is not hyperbole.
Yes it is. I lied to you already.
When I was in Mexico during the holidays I noticed a little dent in one of my teeth. I phoned the dentist to set an appointment, but as everyone knows at the end of the year folks are using up their insurance benefits and it’s tough to get in. Since there was no pain, not even a little discomfort, I took an appointment in the middle of January.
Two days before the appointment my tooth turned grey. It had died.
Since my entire dental history consisted of the removal of my wisdom teeth and filling a cavity at 21 I had no idea what was in store for me. My fear of dentistry and drills was compounded by the fact that my friend’s alcoholic father had removed my wisdom teeth and left me with dry sockets at 19, and then later at 21 I won my one and only filling in a poker game in the back room of the restaurant I worked in. I don’t think that dentist was any better at dentistry than he was at poker. I had that filling fixed at 30 and I’m still recovering from the incident.
In any event my dead tooth meant I needed a root canal. I didn’t know what a root canal is. When the dentist tried to explain it to me I got woozy. I still don’t know what a root canal is except that it’s $650 after insurance, takes three appointments to complete, and you get Xanax.
Oh, apparently there are people who have root canals and then go to the office. My husband has told me about these people. These are not my people. My people sweat bullets, cancel appointments from nerves, and then take Xanax and maybe act a little silly.
My people have good intentions and low thresholds for pain.
There are three appointments for a root canal. The first involves drilling, the second involves drilling and things, and the third involves something and something and a credit card… see I’m a good listener. I made my first appointment and then a few hours before the scheduled time I canceled it. Something about traffic. I made another appointment. I canceled it muttering something else about traffic. The receptionist noted that I lived walking distance from the office and asked if I would like some Xanax so that I could get to the appointment without anxiety.
Yes please. Yes I would like a bucket of Xanax for each and every visit to the dentist forever and ever amen.
They called in a prescription, I filled it, swallowed a pill and dutifully showed up for my next appointment. High. Very very high.
I had my son with me. We took a Lyft to the office and my daughter was to pick us up. He had a cleaning while I had the unnamed first root canal appointment that everyone in the free world knows about and understands because they can listen to the dentist’s words without their eyes rolling back in their head and their stomach churning. Everyone but me.
My recollection is that I sat in the chair with my noise reducing headphones, listened to some music and slept while they worked on my tooth. My daughter then picked us up and I went home and slept in my overstuffed chaise lounge from 2pm until the following morning. My recollection was that I acted like a lady.
Sadly my recollection was incorrect.
The first tip off was that I woke up in bed. Not in the chaise I was sure I’d been napping in.
Apparently there were requests for food. Perhaps calls to my husband during a business dinner. Here are the texts from my daughter’s phone:
In my defense I have taken Xanax a number of times before, particularly for transcontinental flights. Typically I get a few pills at .25mg, break them in half, take half and wake up in a new country. Only after hearing from my children about how I stood on the landing above the living room trying to remove my underwear while my jeans were still very much on my body and buttoned up did I check the dosage the dentist had given me. Two Milligrams! Sixteen times the dose I’d taken dozens of times in the past.
Today I’m going for appointment number three. I’ve decided that I’ll have an old fashioned with a light lunch, wear really strong antiperspirant and let someone drive me to and fro the appointment. Or maybe a smidgen of Xanax, but only enough so that I know how to get myself dressed.
Or maybe I’ll just cancel the appointment… traffic. I mean, I still have enough teeth to get through a meal, right?