I am going to the dentist on Friday.
I have not been to the dentist in over two years.
I hate the dentist. I hate needles. I hate drills. I hate the way my gums feel after the hygenist has brutalized them with her instruments of torture. Okay, maybe that's not really fair-- not all hygenists do that to me. But I have had a couple in my lifetime who really made it hurt, and one in particular who appeared to take so much joy in making my mouth hurt that I had to go home and take a painkiller to ease the throbbing in my gums.
Even worse than this, though, is my well-documented phobia about needles. SG has to have a few tests done because, well, lets just say laughing so hard during the scene in The Big Lebowski where Walter tosses Donny's ashes from the coffee can and the wind picks them up and blows them all over The Dude's beard and sunglasses that you actually pass out momentarily from the laughing is a sign that something's not working quite right. And so he has to have this test where they take blood from a vein and also blood from an artery, and I'm literally trying not to pass out as I TYPE THESE WORDS. He was describing it to me in great length until he noticed the faint sheen of sweat on my upper lip and mercifully stopped talking.
I. Hate. The. Dentist.
When I was young it was obvious from an early point that my mouth was overcrowded and I would need to have braces eventually. The first time I had to have a tooth pulled to make room for other teeth I must have been 7 or 8, I don't remember precisely. I DO remember the more pertinent details, such as the valium or whatever the dentist's office made my mother wake me up at half-after-dark-thirty to give me so that I would be knocked out and compliant. And the fact that when you're me, sometimes you live in opposite-land so that things do the backwards to you of what they're supposed to, and so no, I was not knocked out. I was ramped up like a rabid squirrel on meth. I remember the dental assistant yelling at me, "You're supposed to be ASLEEP!" Like, hello, that's MY fault somehow. Get better drugs, bitch.
Then there was the time that I had to have a cavity filled, and I was so anxious that the adrenaline in my bloodstream appears to have been chewing its way through the Novacaine like a honey badger. They upped the saturation level on the gas to compensate, and suddenly not only did my damn mouth hurt, but the tiles in the ceiling turned sideways and then started to swirl around like they had melted and were being stirred by an invisible spoon. Yeah, that was delightful.
Then there was the suffering through of the braces for two plus years, not the kind that go on the front of your teeth, no, but the BANDS and the tightening of the wires and the headgear that made my mouth hurt so bad I couldn't sleep and the retainer that I eventually just "forgot" to wear so that my teeth moved back a little bit. And to think that when I was in the third grade I thought having braces would be SO COOL because you know, all the bigger kids were doing it.
Then there was the gentle dentist in the U-District who had a soft touch, but who also wasn't thorough and who gave me a filling when the tooth was actually cracked and needed a crown and a root canal, and so as soon as I was back at work and the numbness wore off I was in such extreme agony I wanted to cut my own head off.
Finally, though, I found this red-headed Lithuanian dentist downtown, and he turned out to be the most kind, gentle, thorough dentist I had ever found. I saw him exclusively for the next 9 or 10 years. I went to my appointments every six months. I flossed. I was a dental hygenists DREAM patient.
And then I moved. To New Jersey. YOU try finding a dentist in New Jersey. In 10 years I went to approximately five different dentists and I hated every single one of them.
And then I moved again.
And I found another dentist who was OK, but not...just not THE dentist. You know? And because I hate the dentist anyway, my motivation to go see one has sagged below the waterline.
I brush, with a very expensive toothbrush that is supposed to destroy plaque, clean between teeth and make your gums as tight and strong as the buttocks of a professional soccer player. I floss, most of the time, anyway. But I still have the same bad enamel I was born with and I still grit my teeth when brushing my hair or clipping my nails or having a generally stressful day. I grit my teeth so bad I don't have a single molar that isn't crowned because of me cracking it with my stress.
And now I have a tooth that's sensitive. It already has a filling in it, and I've been looking and looking to see where there is evidence of a cavity and I cannot find it, so I can only guess that maybe the existing filling is getting old and needs replacing. And I cannot, with the cold weather, stand having a tooth this sensitive, and I KNOW I need to get my teeth cleaned and x-rayed, and so I am going to the dentist on Friday. I'm just scared (irrationally) that somehow I'll come home without any teeth.
My nightmare is that the dentist will look at my mouth and solemnly inform me "I'm so sorry, but they all need work. This is going to take a while," as he holds up the biggest, longest needle I've ever seen in one hand and a pair of pliers in the other.