It’s a gas

I’m inordinately paranoid about going to the dentist.  Afraid that the drill will slip out of my dentist’s hands and accidentally bore out my eyeball, or that I will have to have a root canal.  And it happened.  The root canal, not the eyeball thing, which totally could happen. I’ve seen a lot of medical tv shows.

Actually, it was 2 root canals and a deep filling.  In spite of brushing and occasional flossing, I always get cavities.  Lots of them.  I’m told that it’s genetic.  I refuse to believe that it’s because of the occasional (okay… rare) flossing. Flossing is gross, but so is putting your dentures in a glass by the sink. So there’s that.

Did I mention how much I hate going to the dentist?

What follows are my thoughts from the chair. *********************************************************************************************************************************************

The “you’re gonna feel a little pinch” thing is an understatement.  Why don’t they just go ahead tell you the truth?

I’m about to stab your gums with a needle now. Then I’m going to twist it a little and pump some really nasty venom in it.  It won’t start working for a while.  But it won’t wear off before you need to be seen in public either. Ready?

A good 3 minutes after I can no longer feel the entire right side of my face, the dentist returns.  He asks me questions about my job as he fires up the drill.  The sound.  The smell of burning tooth dust. My entire body seizes up. I can’t with that drill. I just can’t.  That’s when he offers me nitrous.

Laughing gas? I’ve never had it before. Why not.

A minute or two later, the hygienist is putting a little plastic mask over my nose.

I concentrate on controlling my breathing.  I don’t want to breath too deeply or too often because I don’t want the hygenist thinking I’m some kind of druggie or something. If I keep taking huge drags of gas, she’ll judge me. Don’t judge me!

I try to hold my breath for a few seconds, only succeeding in making myself gasp in even MORE gas, which made me twitch a little.  “Ha, you can’t even do drugs right. Amateur.” She said…in her mind.  But her mouth said, “You okay?” Great.  She feels sorry for me now.  Don’t feel sorry for me!

The gas tells me that the hygienist is evil, but not to even worry about it.

She keeps aiming the water sprayer at the back of my throat, which I’m certain is intentional.  The suction tube dangles limp in her latex-gloved hand until the dentist barks “Suction” through his SARS mask.  Water begins pooling in the back of my mouth.  I imagine a tiny Indiana Jones dangling from my uvula, panicking about the rising water.  Indy!  Use your whip! Use your whip!

I gag.  The hygienist takes this as a sign that I’ve had enough gas.  She is wrong.

I have not had enough, but she turns it down anyway.  I take a couple of deep breaths and hold it, trying to increase the buzz.  I’ve seen people on tv do this while smoking weed.  [<–another example of the importance of carefully placed modifiers. Grammar ninja out]. profiles_Ninja_me_5934_528387

I’m gonna ask them to give Leila nitrous when she comes, too.  She’s such a panicky child.  It’ll make a her feel all calm and stuff.  This must be what being high feels like.  Yeah.

Wait.

I don’t want her to feel high.  She might like it and start doing drugs with boys in abandoned buildings.  It’s a slippery slope.  It starts at a dentist’s office and ends with prostitution.  I don’t want her to be a prostitute.  My eyes begin to water at the thought.  The dentist sees that I am clearly in pain and gestures for the hygenist to check the tank and turn the gas back up.

Yes!

I lie there thinking up new cupcake flavors for the remainder of the procedure. Amaretto anise. Ha! What if that was somebody’s name? Rum & coke. Something with celery? Can you put kale in a cupcake? Hipsters love that shit.

Then the accounts lady brings me the updated treatment plan.  “One side done. We’ll do the left side when you come back. Just a couple more fillings and crowns.”  I ask her how much it’ll cost.  She says something about $1,400.  Vibe. Killed.

That was over a year ago.

Today, I found myself thinking about how much easier it would be to endure the craziness of working at a high school, or going to my mom’s house, or finding a parking spot at HEB on Sunday if I had my own private supply of laughing gas.  It sure would be easier to put up with people.  On the other hand, it would be considerably harder for me to get anything done. I already have self-diagnosed, selective ADD, and I procrastinate like crazy (par exemple… it took me 13 months to finish writing this).

Hey, what can I say? My life is stressful.  Some of the stress is legitimate. Some fabricated.  I just need to learn how to manage it without drugs, of course.

Philosopher and psychologist, William James, said…

The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.

This week, when I inevitably find myself stressing about something, like paying back my grad school loans, or what pants to wear, I’ll just think about this:

At least I’m not in prison like Piper Chapman.  I bet they don’t even let inmates have laughing gas.

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