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Dangerous Compassions

in which I complain about the dentist

I went to a new dentist yesterday because it’s way cheaper. A crown and filling for $660 instead of $1158, I think. I was really nervous to go to a new place, and I’m generally scared of dentists. So they took 16 x-rays. And then I filled out a form. And then the dentist, who was soft spoken and nice but kind of rushed and his accent was difficult for me to understand, showed me the x-rays and my cracked fillings and where I would need the crown and a new filling. He also showed me another place where there was decay around two fillings and I would need new ones, but that seemed less pressing.

So then I needed to decide whether I could afford the $660 at that time. I said I needed to speak to my husband about it. Luckily, Erik had come with me and was in the waiting room. So we had a tense little conversation about money, and we decided we could afford it but not then, in a week. But the dentist had told me something about paying part of it then and part of it later. So after speaking with Erik I made an executive decision to pay half of it that day and the other half in two weeks when I came in for the permanent crown. The dentist was explaining that the crown required two visits, and I really wanted to get this show on the road.

So they started drilling away tooth matter and fillings to make my mouth ready for the crown and new filling. It was just short of traumatic. They had given me the shot of novacane or whatever it is they use nowadays, but it didn’t deaden the pain. When they got near the nerve I flinched, and they stopped, and the dentist told me to raise my left hand if I felt pain. So he went in again and hit the painful spot and I raised my hand. So they stopped and then they tried again and again I raised my hand. Boy was it a creepy kind of bad pain.

So then they gave me more shots. I hate the shots and felt miserable. I was gripping the arm wrests tightly and my whole body was tense. My neck and shoulders were very tense, and as I waited ten minutes for the novacane to kick in, I tried to force myself to relax, but it was really hard to. I recited Wallace Stevens’ “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” to myself in my head in a feverish way.

I am kind of sick of talking about this, but I’ve given you some sense of it all. At the end my temporary crown was on, and I was told to bite some gauze for half an hour. I paid, and the secretary was alarmed at how I looked. “Kind of sore, huh?” she asked, and I think I said yes.

Then we walked home, and it was dark. I had been there for an hour and a half. I talked funny because of the gauze in my mouth. Half an hour later when I took it out, it was all bloody. Yuck. I rinsed my mouth, and little bits of filling came out into the sink. My mouth tasted horrible, like bad chemicals, and I felt it was not mine.

At dinnertime I was hungry, but I didn’t feel I could eat. But I had some applesauce. Later I had plain yogurt and chocolate ice cream made with coconut milk that we got at the co-op. This morning I had creamy wheat. I’m on day three of a headache, and I am tired of having a body. The end.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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