Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Fillings: The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth

A trip to the dentist:  pain, anticipation, anxiety, fear, shots, numbed face, sound of drilling, gripped fists, burning smell, nausea, close and rinse, splatters, bite down, slurred speech, wearing off, pain.

Yeah, we’ve all been there. Some folks have so much fear they never make it to the chair. For me, I was twenty-one before I had my first cavity. As someone who must always know what direction they’re facing, outside and even inside, I’ve always been good at figuring out my location. I’m always making a mental map in my head. Even when I fly to a new city, I picture the flight, the drive, the walk to my hotel room and never lose my sense of direction. My head has this photo of the world and I'm the "you are here" sticker.

My good friend, however, can lose her sense of direction going out to the mailbox.

Maybe it was the anticipatory anxiety of my first filling. Who knows?  But...I lost my sense of direction.

I knew the dentist, but he had recently moved his office into the basement of a new building. My appointment was scheduled for after work, and he was running behind. The appointment went well, except maybe for the permanent indentations I left on the arms of the chair where my fingers had dug in deep.

Not accustomed to dentists, adrenalin shot through me when they handed me the bill, wanted cash, and insisted on full payment. I didn’t carry that kind of cash with me. My body heat rose; my stomach fluttered. Not only had the anesthesia numbed my mouth, it also numbed my brain. I couldn’t think or communicate. I had no idea how to handle the situation. Flustered and upset I pleaded with them to take my check. Unhappily, they finally accepted. My hand shook wildly as I tried to fill out the check. I even spelled my name wrong when I signed it. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I stumbled out into the dark hallway, noticing only very dim lighting and that all the other businesses appeared closed for the evening. I headed through a set of glass doors and continued down the hall, turning right and racing ahead until I spotted a solid wooden door. Something didn’t seem right. This didn’t feel familiar. My mental map was gone. I headed back to start over again. I reached for the handle of the glass door. It wouldn’t budge. I tried the other. Frantic, I tried them each again. Locked?  Locked.

I tore back down the hallway and continued on through the other door. The building got darker, quieter, and more ominous. I once again rushed back the other way. This time, the wooden door was locked. How could I have been so thoughtless? The air thinned, my head whirled. Trapped! Was someone purposely locking the doors behind me, setting a trap within the bowels of this cold prison? Did I dare continue on, not knowing where on earth this darkened maze would lead me?

“Help,” I yelled, pounding on the door. “Help!”

Despite the door being locked, and my being uncertain who lay in wait behind me, my feet wouldn’t carry down the hall to the next closed door. I couldn’t face getting further trapped behind locked doors. Besides, I was certain I’d open it and there would be no floor, no walls, no anything. Only a black hole.

My mind whirled with confusion. I had no sense of direction at all. The thought terrified and paralyzed me. I had never known this feeling before. I crumbled to the floor up against the door, shrinking into a numb world of helplessness. The walls closed in, and I strangled for each breath.

The lights went out!

A scream escaped my lips.

Trapped! Alone! Desperate! This couldn’t be happening.

And, stop what you’re thinking. No, I didn’t have a cell phone. Cell phones didn’t exist in the everyday world then.

I heard a muffled sound and cried out again, pounding furiously on the door. I’d made up my mind that it didn’t matter who opened the door. My sheer fright would scare them away as I went screaming and tearing out of the building to fresh air.

A key sounded in the door, and I scrambled to my feet. The dental assistant opened the door and peered at me like I was crazy.

“I juz ot urned awound,” I said, my lower lip still numb.

I dashed through the door and followed her safely out of the building, thanking God for a loud voice, hard knuckles, the evening air, and that east was east again.

So tell me: Can you relate to any of this?  The fear of dentists? The odd compulsion to know where you are relative to the rest of the world? The fear of being trapped? General confusion? Leave a comment and tell me your story.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

1 comment:

  1. Really unfortunate that some people let the fear take over them to the point of myopia. We should open our minds, not only on ideas, but on our situation and what needs to be done. If we need a stern yet fitful treatment, then so be it.

    Maple Park Dental


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