Friday, June 08, 2007


When I was in law school, my hardest course was Federal Income Tax. And I still vividly remember the nightmare I had the night before the Income Tax final exam: I dreamed that the exam was the teeth chart above, and I was supposed to label each tooth with its official name. My two biggest fears: Federal Income Tax and the dentist. That nightmare pretty much summed it all up. (I eventually made it through the tax course with a B, to my utter amazement.)

Which gives you some idea of the dental phobia I've also had for much of my life. I chalk this up to a truly horrible and creepy childhood dentist and multiple experiences where he started to drill without the novocaine having taken effect. My sister, who of course went to that same dentist, has similar dental anxiety, and we've had many conversations comparing our memories of that weird guy. As kids, of course, we didn't know going to the dentist should be any different, and those were the days when moms didn't come into the room. She had her own childhood bad dental experiences, so she probably thought this guy was normal, too.

Anyway, I'm much better now, thanks to my current wonder-dentist. He's gentle and kind and careful and ALL ABOUT making sure I'm sufficiently drugged so as to be anxiety-free. Nowadays, I sail into his office, settle into the dentist chair with my Ipod and I'm good to go.

And it's a mark of how far I've come that I was totally relaxed and unconcerned about having two teeth extracted this week. It's just another step on my long road to making sure I have my very own natural teeth when I'm 90 years old, and part of the orthodontic treatment I've been getting to straighten my teeth and align my bite. (Ironically, I had straight teeth before I went to law school, and I think that the stress-related teeth grinding and jaw clenching I did in my full-time litigator years are what set my teeth to moving around so drastically. Good thing I didn't practice tax law, eh? I probably wouldn't have any teeth left.)

So, all went well. I listened -- through a sedated haze -- to This American Life on my Ipod during the procedure, then came home and crawled into bed and slept for probably 18 hours, interrupted by Roger from time to time to hand me a pain pill and change the ice packs. It's the best sleep I've had in months.

The dentist tells me I will have a few more days of pain (pain gets more intense as healing progresses, he tells me) and if Advil and Tylenol don't do the trick, I'm armed with some pain medication for some sleepy relief. I guess I won't be operating any heavy equipment in the next day or two. Meanwhile, I'll keep reading my lovely Marcia Willett novel (I do love British novels) and playing Pokemon with Caroline (the ideal mindless game) and planning the fabric I'll dye when I have a full sunny day.

And as a side note to all of this, those Slimfast milkshakes are pretty ideal meals for my current situation. On my new healthy diet regime, I've lost 11 pounds in the past month!


  1. You're very brave, especially after your childhood experiences. My parents took my brothers and I to a dentist who maintained that children didn't need novacaine for filling cavities. After having four drilled and filled one day when I was 11, I passed out on the street in front of his office. Even then my parents thought he was a perfectly fine dentist. Luckily my son has had his molars sealed--something I think is a miracle.

    Give yourself something good as a reward for being so brave. (What could be better at making you feel better than fabric??? :) )


  2. My childhood dentist used to smoke as he ws working on me .... still surprised I did not get the ashes in my mouth ! He also used to let me play with mercury .. and I'm still alive to tell the tale !
    Hurry and feel better - and congratulations on conquering your dentist-o-phobia !