I’ve put off going to the dentist for a long time. It’s hundreds of pounds worth of work to catch up on, and today the work started. Armed with a mental candle to put myself into a state of meditation through the ordeal, the candle quickly flickers out and I’m left with the dental lamp brightly gleaming through the thin skin of my eyelids. Focus on your breathing, breathe into your stomach. I breathe into my stomach and even that seems as tense as if I was using just the top half of my lungs. My back keeps arching with tension, I’d relax it again, only to find the same muscles have involuntarily spasmed again.
Why is it that when you are lying almost upside down on a couch, all your consciousness focuses on one single entity, the anticipation of pain? Even when the tingling numbness creeps through your face, the vibrations, tugs and pulls take centre stage for the 40 minute drama that unfolds. Do I catch my mind wandering? A momentary lapse, perhaps the usual habit of daydreaming as a default mode has overridden code red? The drilling diminishes and due to a reassuring voice that the first stage is now over, nerves declare amber code and the mind tries to think of a favourite song. Amber alert impedes even this capability and my gentle advice to the hypothalamus is met with a determined pulling of rank and the lowly officer of consciousness succumbs to the continued adrenaline release and heightened muscular tension.
I try to communicate with the dogged captain of control again, the sensation of gentle impaction, no pain, the fillings being carefully crafted into place, but the stress response has found a new target, the jaw. It’s aching. It needs to relax, it needs to close, just long enough to swallow. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, try all the way to your toes. I remember that I’m wearing the boots I walked in yesterday. Yes, through the field, through the field where sheep were grazing. No, I didn’t watch where I was going, I wanted a picture of lambs playing, with a Henry Moore bronze for a backdrop. I shuffle my feet guiltily, despite knowing that I’d cleaned the offending boots.
“Clench your teeth,” comes the instruction. Clench my teeth? It feels like they have been clenched for the past 40 minutes. Has he removed his fingers? I wonder how many dentists have toothmarks on their fingers. I do as I’m told, he has instruments of torture in his hand and my martial arts training instinct could make it a very messy affair. We’ve already had an altercation about how he cannot get that X-ray plate into my mouth unless he creates a smaller one, best not to push his limits, I’m only his second patient of the day. Honestly, who would choose to do this as a living?
What, wait? The astronaut style chair is lifting and I’m being forced into an upright position. Doesn’t he know that I was just getting comfortable?
Based on the challenge to write for 20 minutes without stopping. Day 1 of Writing 101 – Blogging University