Dental Decisions

“Have nothing to eat or drink after midnight,” the woman told me on the phone.

“They are going to put me out,” I tell my daughter, “I’ll need someone to drive me and be with me the rest of the day.”

“It’s only a tooth, Mom!” says my eight-month-pregnant middle child.  “I’m happy to stay with you, but really?”

I flashback to childhood visits to the dentist, the room going dark and a voice telling me to push against his arm until I regain consciousness.  That dentist refused to treat me after a while.  I have been squeamish since.

“I hate dental work!”  I tell her, but she has a point.

“How long will it take?” I ask the dental surgeon who is about to extract a molar, crown and all.

“Likely half an hour.  Whether you are sedated or not is your choice.  Should you choose to be, we’ll insert an IV and get you started, otherwise we’ll do a local anesthetic.  You will hear the banging and feel the pressure.”

Give me the drugs! I want to say, and then I think of my husband awaiting a triple bypass, and my daughter about to give birth, and how much I will inconvenience everyone if I opt for the sedation.

“I’ll give it a go with local freezing,” I vow.

“Are you sure?”  The nurse looks surprised.  What does she know that I don’t?

“Yes!  Well, no, I’d like to try.”

“You can stop us at any time and we can start an IV,” the doctor reassures me.

No, I’m in, I tell myself, and try to move my awareness away from the room and onto something else.  I say a prayer for my husband, for my child and the child she is carrying, and as the dentist starts to push and pull on the obstinate tooth, I create an affirmation:

It’s okay to let go.  I willingly let go.  I am now able to release those things I’ve clung to that no longer serve me.  I am ready to be free of the poison in my life.  I let go.

The tooth did let go of course, and after a short drilling intrusion to break the remainder up into smaller pieces, it was out.  A couple of stitches, a mouth full of gauze and I was good to go.

No problem!

“Imagine that I thought about full anesthetic,” I marvel to my daughter.

“You were very brave, Mom!”

I made the right choice – better to suffer thirty minutes of discomfort than to put someone out for a whole day.

Now, what can I eat…..

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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