THE BLOG

Dispatches From Down East: Why I Hate Root Canals More than You Do

09/07/2012 11:13 EDT | Updated 10/02/2012 05:12 EDT
Alamy

I am up at 5:00 a.m. Then 6:00 a.m. And then 6:07 a.m. And then I finally pull my lazy bones out of bed at 6:08 a.m. I can hardly contain the excitement. It is root canal day. Yes, my sorry mouth is yet again on its way in to the dentist. My van can practically drive itself there, as I have made weekly trips to visit my good friends at the O'leary Dental Clinic in western P.E.I. starting in mid- July with appointments set to continue until the end of August. Good times. Just the way I always imagined my summer would unfold.

Three cheers for a mouth full of metal, a hefty dental bill and a chronic headache.

We've all heard the root canal jokes..."I'd rather have a root canal than watch that movie..." or "I'd rather have a root canal than listen to so-and-so's stories about her life", et cetera. Well, I had a root canal, lived to tell the tale and I can honestly say that I'd rather do just about anything than have a root canal. Including spend the night tenting in the rain with my family of six lovies. Anything. Seriously. It was that bad.

For starters, things cannot be good when they have to take four x-rays of one tooth. And, while they were working on that tooth, they were also trying to do another root canal on another unfortunate soul at the far end of the clinic. I notice they put the two of us at opposite ends of the building- perhaps so that the bad vibes could be spread evenly throughout the office rather than concentrated at one end.

Anyhoo...

Let's just say there was plenty of down time in between drilling. I had lots of time to memorize the ceiling, look behind me for the suction tube, examine my own x-rays and listen in to all the happenings on country radio (whatever channel that is...) Unfortunately, I also had a rubber dam in my mouth all the while, so there was also plenty of drool going on. Thus, the reason for my desperate search for the suction piece. Unfortunately, they had me sitting upright at various points, and I dare you to try to swallow with a dam in your mouth while sitting at a 90 degree angle. Not easy. I am sure there is a summer game for this at the Olympics because it requires a great deal of flexibility and the loss of one's pride. I managed to do so, but I must say I was ready to do my own root canal after about 15 minutes of sitting there with drool running down my face.

But, the crowning moment- the moment that is seared into my memory for time immortal was this one. After about an hour, I started to feel the effects of my one cup of joe that I had en route to the appointment. I had gone to the washroom prior to my 8:30 a.m. time slot, but anyone who has had a child or two (or four) knows that the old bladder ain't what it used to be. So, after about an hour and a half, I needed to go. Unfortunately, this was right at that point described above when I was desperately looking for the suction tube. So, after I had had plenty of time to completely scope out the room I was quarantined in, and the dental hygienist had finally returned, I managed to say this: " ah hab tug a dab a rooo" which being interpreted is "Where the heck have you been for the last half hour, I have to go the bathroom?" So, she looked at me and said, "Oh, no problem, I'll just leave the dam in your mouth. There's no one in the waiting room right now. You do know where the washroom is right?"

If anyone knows where the bathroom is in any given building on the face of the earth, it's me. I always find the bathrooms. No matter where I am. And I usually bring my tooth brush and fully equipped purse along with me, just in case. So, I had already used this bathroom, brushed my teeth and fixed my hair and examined what was left of my teeth in said washroom when I arrived. That was not the issue. It was walking back there, with this green dam hanging out of my mouth that was the source of the slightly awkward vision I was having right now. And just because there wasn't anyone in the waiting room at this moment, Missy, does not exempt someone from being there precisely at the moment I enter with that hideous thing in my mouth. Because the laws of nature have always been for me, "what can go wrong, will go wrong."

On the other hand, there was the other urgent need to go pressing me onward. Literally.

So, I trusted her. If there was no one in the waiting room, then I would bolt out there and back again as fast as humanly possible.

I should have been a sprinter. I made it to the corner. And that is when I realized. She.was.wrong. There was someone in the waiting room. Of course there was. I fully expected this, because that is just my luck. I avoided making eye contact; in fact, I pretended I was invisible. And, I ran past him and bolted into the washroom in record time. Lap one complete.

As tempting as it was to stay in there, there was the slightly weird idea of forever having that thing in my mouth. So, I knew I had to be a big girl and get my mouth back into the dental chair to complete the very lengthy and expensive process already underway. So, after a quick look in the mirror ( by which I discovered I had crusty white stuff from who knows what all over my cheeks), I was ready for lap two. This one was harder. Because he had already seen me. And of course, he would have all the more reason to stare harder as I bolted by for the run of my life. I managed to get by him in double record time, but it was the dental hygienist I met on my way by the prep station that just about made me ready to give up dental appointments forever.

She looked at me, with my hand covering the totally disgusting piece of dripping wet plastic flying back and forth from one side of my face to the other, creating a whip lash effect on against my cheek, and she starts to laugh hysterically at me.

"Oh, are you here on a do-it-yourself appointment?" she chortles. As if this was funny. Or professional. Yes, Lady, this is exactly what I would choose to do on one of the hottest days of the summer while all the other sane people are at the beach. Stuff my face full of plastic so that I can pretend I am a dog salivating all over myself. And although you were among the more likeable dental hygienists last week when I was in, you are NOT my favorite anymore.

So, in the future, when people use that joke about root canals, I will be completely unamused and ready with a comment of my own: "I would rather get a root canal than get run over by a complete stranger heading desperately for the restroom, complete with a drool-covered dental dam hanging out of their mouth." And that's the truth.

I think.