The Other Day At The Popstar-Dentist

This day had to come. The worst-case scenario. I had to go to the dentist. When I was 14, I swore an oath to myself to forever avoid this place. I stuck to my guns – for 8 years. Until I was in such pain that I could not chew or sleep anymore. It went on for days. My options: dentist or death. For another two days, I pondered these and then made an appointment. With a dentist office, which specialized in dealing with panicked wimps like me. On their web page, they promised to even completely knock patients out. I was on board.

The moment I set foot into the dental office, I feel sick to my stomach. There it is again, naked fear stemming from my childhood. I still sit down and await the arrival of the villainous butcher. Probably he will look like Edward Scissorhands. “Not if I can help it!” I am about to get up and leave, when bad timing is ruining my plan. At exactly this moment, the executioner comes in. I feel trapped and stare at him. He laughs, seemingly without a reason and sits down on his chair. Damn, he looks good. Young, tall, blonde, and a toned body. This totally messes up my stereotype. If he weren’t the devilish collector of teeth, he would actually be my type. But as we all know, the devil hides behind many faces. I won’t be tricked. He actually looks like one of those Hollywood-dentists who recounts on TV how Britney Spears came to have these perfectly white teeth.

I insist on being completely knocked out. I emphasize that I don’t want to wake up until my teeth are as beautiful as Britney’s. Very white and healthy. His reply: “Everything is doable.” It’s followed by his request to take a look into my mouth. Reflexively I answer “NO!” He stays calm and relaxed. He explains to me patiently like he is on Sesame Street and I am a little girl that he needs to check out what’s wrong first before he can help me. Only after he promises me not to touch anything in my mouth, I open up wide. One short look followed by an x-ray lead to the diagnosis: I got a huge cavity in my molar. Something that can be fixed in just 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter, I still want to go sleep!

He tries to reason with me. That to get an IV into my arm would be more painful than having my mouth numbed completely with a local anesthetic. He assures me that I wouldn’t feel anything and would keep control over the situation. Control is good. Control is important. Who knows what he actually wants to do with me. I agree and feel very brave and clever. Until I glimpse the needle. All my bravery leaves my body. A tear is running down my cheek and my entire body stiffens. I close my eyes and wait for torturous pain. All that follows is a short feeling of pressure. I carefully squint at my popstar-dentist who triumphantly proclaims: “That was all, Frau Schaetzl”.

I already feel how half of my mouth and tongue is getting numb. I grab my headphones, push them into my ears and turn up the music. Only Johnny Cash can help me now to drown out the drilling noise. I try to concentrate on the lyrics to “Jackson”, but I still can hear the whining of the drill. It gives me the creeps. After five minutes without pain, I begin to relax and to believe that local anesthesia may really work after all.

And then it is over. I am very relieved. I get up, pretend I am very late for an appointment and storm out of the office. As I climb down the stairs to the first floor, it hits me: I did it! I have overcome the daemons of my childhood. I am a grown up now! I step out of the building into the sunlight. Upright and proud, I march to my car and get in. After turning up the radio and rolling down the car windows, I take a sip from my water bottle. I am cool and tough. Not even cavities can kill me. There is only one problem with the picture. I have forgotten that half of my mouth is still completely numb – which is why I drool water on my t-shirt like a toddler.