This morning found me in the dentist’s chair, staring up at a poster taped to the ceiling that said “every warm hand is a whisper from the heart,” which didn’t make sense to me at that particular time, and doesn’t make sense to me now. I was grateful for that poster regardless. I was also thanking my stars that Chris Martin exists, and that he sings loud enough that I can hear “Clocks” over the whir of brush and sputter of water squirter.
It’s a little ridiculous for a twenty-two-year-old woman to be scared (here I want to use a less polite word than I’ll actually use) to death of the dentist. And I’m scared. No matter how much resolve I have walking in the door, no matter how confident I am that I’ve brushed and flossed adequately, it’s all smashed on the tasteful carpet under my feet when I’m led to the chair. Or the gallows, if you prefer.
You see, when I was decently young, but not young enough to be crying the way I did (maybe thirteen, fourteen?), a dentist had to drill at a cavity I had. “I’m not going to use Novocaine, because I won’t be drilling near any nerves,” he told me, pleasant as could be. “You just raise your hand if you feel any pain.” And so he began drilling. The drill vibrating in my mouth was a little uncomfortable, but not painful. And then suddenly, it was. It was as if there was a rotten core to my tooth, strung through with thousands of nerves so that no one could get too close. And that dentist had just burst through all of them and was drilling on the one soft spot that was more sensitive than any other part. I raised my hand as high as I could.
He barely paused. “Really? That hurt? Hmm … I’m not anywhere near a nerve. I’m just going to keep going, okay, sweetie? Almost done.”
So he kept going, and it kept hurting more than anything I’d ever experienced, and salty globes were sliding down my face, and my (still raised) palm was sweating.
In the car I told my mom that I was never going back to that dentist.
She let me switch, and I haven’t had such an unpleasant experience since, but I’m still wary. I didn’t put on mascara this morning because I didn’t want it to run if I cried.
So this all explains why it’s so important that I can hear Chris Martin and that I have (albeit confusing) posters to distract me. Because otherwise I’m confident that I’ll snatch up my purse and flee at the first mention of drilling.