Thursday, 27 October 2011

Of Canines and Felines

It’s not often you get to say you enjoyed a trip to the Dentist and it’s rarer (for me, anyway) to say how thoroughly lovely a dentist is.

I remember one particularly traumatic trip to the dentist, where I’d been sitting flipping through a comic book in the waiting room; not really reading it, my mouth dry with nerves and my heart racing with apprehension, my mother the picture of stoic resignation beside me.  I had to have something done – it was perhaps a removal or a filling - but I knew gas was involved (as it was in those days).

I didn’t mind the gas bit.  I quite liked the swirly empty-head spinning sensation it gave me on the first few breaths and then I knew the vivid, kaleidoscopic dreams would begin; as would the nausea on revival.  But as long as I didn’t know what particular torture was happening to me, I was happy to go along with it.

Only this time they clearly hadn’t given me enough.  Either that or my dreams had become more lucid, more immediate and a lot more hands-on.  My mouth was open, I was yelling, there was a massive face bearing down on mine and behind that, a white mask peering over the shoulder of the huge head.  ‘Nurse, more gas, quickly, more gas!’ I heard and then my legs kind of took over.
The next thing I knew I was being chased down the clinic corridors by my mother, wielding a comic book and a Curly-Wurly (or similar ironic treat of choice for having endured a trip to the dentist) and the nurse in her flapping white slingbacks.

I don’t know how they managed to get me back in the chair to finish me off (I have an idea a lot more gas and chocolate was involved) but this episode firmly cemented my fear of the dentist for all time.   I can still feel the hypnotic excitement whilst fleeing – even though I only got as far as the downstairs reception area before being persuaded to take deep breaths and calm myself where the nurse finally caught me up.

My father used to tell a similar story of a trip he made to the dentist once.  During a filling, he had been sinking so low down in the shiny leather chair, that his head had ended up on the seat.  When the dentist had asked him to realign himself, dad straightened himself so sharply that he kneed the dentist firmly in the groin. The dentist let out a yelp of pain and dropped the drill out of the open window where it dangled noisily above the pavement below, startling passers-by.  Of course this story was made the more hysterical at family gatherings where dad would even have the drill re-pointing the side of the building where it strummed happily away before being dragged back in by the startled dentist.

I always have to have my nails clipped short before even a check-up because I’ve been known to draw blood from my palms with the degree of fist-balling I do whilst in the chair.

But today was a delight.  Not simply because I’d decided, purely for financial reasons, to forgo my check-up and just accompany the girl, but because we had a last-minute change of dentist and the lady who we saw was the nicest, most cheerful, informative, reassuring dentist I’ve ever met. She was pretty too, which I think helps. There’s nothing worse that the face of a curmudgeonly old git to get the pulse racing into overtime (in a bad way).  One such COG once haughtily replied to my request for having gas when a particularly deep filling was required: “Young lady, people like you SHOULD be gassed” and then laughed at my stricken face. I made my appointment but didn’t keep it.  Somebody told me he’d been struck off a little while after our last meeting and another person asked me if I’d known he was a Butcher by trade before he decided to take up dentistry.  Sometimes I wonder about Fortune and me, I really do.

So on her actual Birthday, no less, the Girl will be returning to the lovely dentist lady for a bit of enamel-whitening.  Something which she has always needed and wanted but which no dentist in all the years of going has ever suggested might be possible, short of waiting until she’s 21 and having veneers (and paying through the nose, of course).

We both almost cried; which could have been partly due to deliberations over having our sick cat euthanized… but this piece of news put a gentle balance back into our morning.

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