Dear Lord The Pain, The Horror, The String!


A nice, plush, well-appointed torture chamber.

I had to go to the dentist today. I’ve been putting this visit off because prior to Budge signing us up for State Dental Plus insurance, cleanings alone were almost $100 out of pocket. Now I’d like pretty, pearly whites as much as the next person, but from a purely economic standpoint, dirty teeth bite and chew just as well as sparklingly pristine ones.

Aside from the money, though, I also am a wimp when it comes to CHOOSING to undergo infliction of large amounts of pain. If I get hurt, I’ll deal with it, but I don’t go looking to feel something unpleasant. I knew I was in for a world of agony too because my long-time favorite dental hygienist left the practice I patronize to start a restaurant with her husband. Now Patty was a jewel. She was sweet and kind and tender. She dealt lovingly with my poor neglected mouth. I knew that her replacement — sight unseen — was bound to be much harsher.

I was absolutely right, but more on that later.

I started off my visit being lulled into a false sense of safety and comfort by the little dental hygienist’s assistant. She did the x-rays with the thing you bite down on as it slices the roof of your mouth. Then she polished my teeth. Maybe some of you like that freshly polished feeling, but to me the polisher head sounds too much like that godawful drill they use. Added to the unpleasant aural experience is the wonderful sensation of nails on a chalkboard you get from the feel of the pumice paste touching your teeth. I’ve tried many times to explain that I don’t want my teeth polished, but it is to no avail.

Before going on too far, I have to relate how the whole polishing experience was preceded by a wonderfully refreshing awkward turtle moment. Now, for those who are new to the site and me, I was born without a filter between my brain and my mouth. You never have to wonder about what I’m thinking because if you’ll just give me a few minutes, I’ll tell you. Added to that lack of filter is a wonderfully complex OCD disorder (which really should be CDO to be correct) that makes me want to “fix” whatever is off in my environment and we have the makings of a really nice train wreck.

See, what had happened was while I was getting my x-rays done, the little assistant hygienist was in very close proximity to me. It was during my left upper x-ray that I noticed she had a large stray string somehow caught perfectly in the extreme upper part of her cleavage. This is where the OCD kicks in. (Don’t worry, I’m a little off in the noggin but I’m not a big enough fool to go fishing for an item like that myself.) Now Budge has always told me I am honor bound to tell her if anything she is wearing makes her look foolish, fat, etc. Thanks to my lack of a filter, this has never been a problem. Using Budge’s admonishment as my base, I surmised that no woman would want to go around with a stray string caught in her cleavage. Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out a delicate way to advise her of the situation. Now most people would have just leaned back and let it go but remember — no filter and OCD.

So, I tried subtlety. I said, “Hon, if you were wearing a long string of pearls, they would have a string caught in them.” She looked at me like she’d just watched me beam down from a spaceship. Well, I tried subtlety and, as usual, it didn’t work so I just used the direct approach with, “Okay, there’s no delicate way to put this and we are both about to turn beet red, but you have a rather sizable string stuck in the upper reaches of your cleavage. I noticed it during the x-rays.” Upon quick examination, she realized I wasn’t just making this up. Of course, the beige string stood out prominantly against the bright red flush now enveloping her (and my) face and neck. Luckily, she is not only a good sport, but we’ve known each other many years now. I even warned her during my last visit when she told me she was moving her boyfriend in with her that she was making a big mistake — you know, free milk and cows and such. Turns out, I was right, but that’s another story.

Nothing on this chart looks very pleasant, does it?

Anyway, she finished up her portion of my cleaning with a maroon glow and I saw her motion in the hygienist. So this was my beloved Patty’s replacement? She was about five foot nothing and just as slightly built as she could be. I felt a wave of relief. After all, how bad could such a delicate creature hurt me?

Turns out, pretty damn bad.

Let me put it this way, had I been a POW subjected to what this little terror did to me, she would be on trial for violations of the Geneva Convention at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Instead, I had to pay for the whole ordeal with blood and money.

Her name was Maria, but I swear it should have been Ilsa or Helga or something more befitting her powers of pain brokering. I was at the mercy of a miniature Tomas de Torquemada in baby blue scrubs. She poked. She scraped. She sawed. At one point, I swear she had both tiny hands in my mouth and it felt like she was trying to extract my poor uvula through my sinuses. What she was actually trying to do was dislodge a particularly stubborn piece of plaque from a back molar. When the offending bit finally gave way, it sailed out of my mouth and landed right in my left eye. I’ve seen meteorites smaller than the rock she got out of me.

After she’d finished with the “light stuff,” this modern day Brunhilda informed me that I needed the “special treatment.” Turns out this treatment is a machine that pressurizes water into a needle-fine jet that exits a vibrating tip. Supposedly, it makes plaque removal a breeze. I have no idea if it actually does what it’s designed for, but I can vouch that it puts out enough liquid to make you feel like you’re being waterboarded at Gitmo by Darth Vader. When I told her, eyes filling with tears, that I would give her the location of the secret Rebel base, she laughed and said, “Oh you big baby, it’s just water.” Of course it’s just water . . . water . . . the same stuff that cuts steel in some modern fabricating plants oh yeah and carved out that big hole in the Arizona desert called The Grand Canyon.

That’s when she started to get cutesy with me. She said, “You know, some people look forward to coming to have their teeth cleaned!” I quickly replied, “Yes, and those same people probably have a homemade BDSM dungeon in their basement and think being hung upside down is fun, too.” She laughed. Manically. Then she reached for the roll of razor wire she was passing off as dental floss and finished up my cleaning. Once she was satisfied that I was bleeding freely enough from every spot of exposed gum tissue, the Marquess de Sade told me to relax while she got Dr. Leigh.

My favorite dentist ever, Dr. Leigh Ledford!

Finally, salvation.

Dr. Leigh is as gentle as her hygienists are brutal. She just pats you on the cheek with a nice reassuringly cool hand and rubs your jaws. I’ve always told her if she ever wanted to give up dentistry, she could make a mint as a masseuse. She completed her evaluation and pronounced me in fine shape. Then she told me not to wait two years next time and her trained torturer wouldn’t have to treat me so horribly.

Don’t have to tell me twice; I go back in six months!

So, if y’all need a good dentist in Upstate South Cackalacky, make sure you check out Hillcrest Family Dentistry. Yes, the hygienists are dangerous, but they do an excellent job and having your face rubbed by Dr. Leigh is worth the price of admission all by itself. Just tell’em I sent you. Oh, and tell “String” I said hello.

Til next time, love y’all and keep your feet clean.

Oh yeah, and FLOSS!

One response »

  1. Shannon, you are a real hoot! Enjoyed this little story sooo much..made me laugh..not at your torture, just your way of expressing yourself. Love it. doris

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