Toothless

Here's something traumatic, thoughtful, and special: I'm gong to tell you all about the emotional meltdown I had at the dentist office last week. I will talk about anxiety, nightmares, and not too graphic dental procedure. What makes this special is that I am retelling this while STONED OFF MY ASS on these pain pills. We are talking The Midnight Gospel levels of high. Are you ready? Okay. I came from a family that values dental hygiene. My Dad was a dental tech in the Air Force, so he taught us how to take of our teeth. We had regular dental visits. Our parents never let us use the literally candy coated kid's toothpaste. Also, my brother and I never physically fought, so our teeth never suffered from fisticuffs. When I was in high school, I had to have 4 baby teeth pulled - the 2 front row baby teeth made it hard me to get my upper lip over my teeth when I smiled. That was a cakewalk because those teeth were supposed to come out. I got braces installed when I was 15. I had to evolve the way I ate and cleaned my teeth. I was at the dentist every few weeks to have bracer wires tightened. I was used to the dentist. A dentist appointment never made me nervous. Whatever discomfort I was about to feel I knew how to handle it. To this day, I can usually fall asleep in the dentist chair. Or, at least I thought that last week. Genetics are a weird thing. After all of that good hygiene growing up, I still ended up with cavities. Booo! Not fair! My back tooth was in need of a filling and decided to break when I was eating at a raw oyster bar. Yep. Broke my tooth on a raw oyster. Not the shell or a stray rock...just on a piece of something with the consistency of Nickelodeon slime. So this tooth was broken and the cavity was busy shit rocking that tooth from the inside. The dentist told me that it would have to be removed. Okay...that's a little stressful, but it's the back tooth and no one will ever see the gaping hole that you have to live with forever. Yay? Scheduling issues and the current world weirdness lead to a delay in the tooth extraction. I should have been more proactive in getting something scheduled earlier like a good and proper adult...but I was nervous. Not about pain...but just "Is this a sign for things to come? How many more teeth am I gonna lose?" So, that nervous energy is a thing! My tooth flat out protested last week. A mighty toothache settled in and I was in pain from my neck to my eyebrows. I texted my dentist. He said "See you Saturday" My dentist is currently closed and only seeing emergency cases due to the current world situation. So imagine my emotional discomfort when my dentist makes time for me during a damn pandemic. And THAT nervous energy on top of the first! Now, smash-cut with me over to the Anxiety Corner. In my Anxiety Corner, there lives my reoccurring stress dreams: -- Bubble gum expanding in my mouth and choking me to death -- My teeth shattering and falling out of my mouth These dreams like to come and get jiggy with this hot mess mind before I travel, a week or 2 before a show (convention or being stage; whichever), and before something big is about to go down. Oddly enough, I didn't have a nightmare before my appointment. I can tell you that the teeth-shattering dream was always in the back of mind since the tooth broke, so I would accidentally dwell on that first person view horror scene while upright and awake! Comedy comes in threes. That's that third level of anxiety that I packed to come with me to the dentist office! Just a one punch on this punchcard and I get a free meal with purchase of regular entree with beverage! I arrive at the dentist. It is just my dentist and his tech. That's it. No receptionists and no other patience. They checked me for fever, ask me to put gloves on, and I went back to the chair. Dentist says that he can just numb me for the extraction. No sleeping stuff, but I could have nitrous if I wanted. I politely declined and felt better about not having to be put to sleep. The numbing went in and felt like it knew it would feel from the many fillings I've had to endure. The drilling noise didn't bother me. The poking didn't bother me. But enter...the clamps. Dr. S brings out the clampy tool used to take teeth out. I've seen these before. No big deal, surly...surly? The moment the clamps went on, I began to shake. My breathing quickened. My eyes got so wide you could land a helicopter on them. Dr. S sees my body tense up and asks "Are you feeling pain? Do we need to stop for a moment?" I gently nod my head, eyes still wide. I even think to myself "BLINK. YOU ARE SCARING THE POOR MAN." The assistant gives me a rinse and sits me up. "Are you okay?" I calmly reply "I'm not going to faint or vomit. There was no pain. I'm just having a really visceral reaction to the whole situation." "Is it the procedure?" Dr S asks. Oh, honey. The tears broke through every protective barrier like the when the Hoover Dam broke in Superman. *inhales* "I was nervous getting a tooth taken out because I am losing a physical piece of myself and the pain was terrible leading up to this and I should have made this appointment sooner and now you both are here during a pandemic because I was irresponsible and I'm scared of everyone who doesn't take this whole COVID thing seriously and that clamp and the idea of and image of you yanking my tooth out was just right there and I'm afraid that it's just gonna shatter into a million pieces" I say in one breath before the first sob. Nailed it. I then, with great clarity, continue "I apologize for the trouble and I appreciate your patience while I freak out a bit." They were so kind. If it weren't for the virus, I would have hugged them both. Dr. S said that he'd use a variety of tools to lessen the need for the clamp. I gathered my courage and we continued. When he said "The tooth is officially out!", I almost cried like I did when I paid off my student loan. We did a bone graft and stitched a membrane in there. My first stitches! The whole appointment was a little over an hour. With the emotional rush assaulting me with a head on collision into my soul, it felt like I was there for 15 minutes tops. It was an afternoon of firsts - First tooth extraction First time crying at the dentist First time getting stitches Fast forward to now. The hardest food I have eaten since Friday night is a lightly toasted bagel with cream cheese. The hole in the back of my mouth is...there. It sometimes tastes like burnt hair. Brushing my teeth has become this intricate and careful choreography in an effort to not hit the wound and really put myself through the emotional roof. Antibiotics and a prescription based pain reliever (which I only take when I absolutely need to because they sometimes make me nauseous) are helping me reccop. Lots of soup, Jello, water, and tea. Chris is taking good care of me. So are the cats. There's my story. I'm still really high. But I'm hydrated and following Dr. S's orders. And my wound will heal :)

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