Saturday, July 4, 2009

Panic at the Dentist's Office

I pried my sweaty body off the pleather recliner and bolted upright. The hygienist stood behind me making copious notes in my permanent file.

"Do you really have to write all that down?," I asked pathetically, the color just now returning to my face. "I'm fine, now. Seriously. Let's just do the cleaning."

"Oh, this? It's nothing," she told me with that bullshit cheeriness that all dental
hygienists have mastered. "I'll be done in just a second, here."

What she was writing, in that permanent file of mine, was how I had just completely lost my marbles, right there in her chair. Not because I'm scared of dental work, mind you. I've had root canals and gum grafts and really had no problem with it. I just lost my fucking shit. And while she chalked it up to a possible heart condition, which really isn't any better on my permanent record if I were to ever apply for new insurance policies, the truth is, I just lost my fucking shit.

It all began with a set of lost keys, which caused me to run late for my appointment.

Then came my ride in. The route to my dentist's office combined with the ornery behavior of that morning's motorists, made for an absolutely harrowing commute. I spent the last few minutes before locking up the bike, reflecting on how close I came to becoming road kill.

That had me all freaked out, and then I began to worry about my blood pressure. A few weeks ago, I saw a new doctor who told me my blood pressure was a little high. That makes perfect sense given my make-up, but remarkably, I typically test low. I knew I was going to the dentist soon, and I know they test my blood pressure before every cleaning, so I figured I'd just check in again, once I got there. But now
I was heading into this test with a heart rate that could jump-start a Boeing 727.

As I entered the office, I asked the receptionist for a glass of water. It was cold. Delicious. I was about to blow a blood vessel.

They led me back to my room, sat me down in the reclining pleather chair and took my arm.

"So, I just had a pretty gnarly bike ride in and I'm afraid my blood pressure is gonna be high."

"Oh, you'll be fine," she said all bullshitty as she slid the sleeve over my bicep. "Let's just see here."

Pwsshh, pwsshh, pwsshh.

"Oh my! You are high."

My heart hammered away at the inside of my chest. "Like how high?" I stuttered.

"Oh, about twice as high as last time. It's fine." All bullshitty. "We'll test it again in a few minutes. What'd you eat last night? Or for breakfast this morning? Something salty?"

"I eat super healthy," I pleaded with this woman, hoping she would give me a better prognosis. "My wife's a food nazi. We eat kale and whole grains and shit. And everything's organic." But then I started thinking, if I am having a heart attack, this may be the last woman I speak to before I'm unconscious, so I better 'fess up, now.

"I love cheese!" I blurted out, full of shame. "It's my only weakness. "I love cheese and I like butter, too, but I rarely indulge in butter." My dental
hygienist nodded. "What's high blood pressure mean exactly, anyway?," I wimpered.

hygienist, a former emergency medical technician, felt it her job to tell me all the gory details about what happens to the human blood stream when all systems are not go. I would share them here, but that was the part where everything went out of focus.

The color had completely left my skin.
I could tell from the tip of my now grey nose. Sweat poured in a steady stream down either side of my face and into my ears. And my heart was fucking killing me. I kind of thought I was about to pass out, but my mind raced to think of anything else I might want to tell my dental hygienist before I went into in a coma.

I jumped out of the pleather dentist chair and moved to a more upright seat facing the
hygienist. "Could I get another cup of water?" Wait no! She had just told me that the water in your body puts pressure on the outside of your veins and capillaries making it hard for them to push the blood stream along.

The bullshitty
hygienist finally went and did me a solid. She got a wet towel for me to cool myself off. And that was all I needed. She tested my blood pressure again. I was making my way down. Things were sharpening up. I had a sip of water - just a sip - and gathered my composure that had spewed across the room.

"Thanks for the towel. I think I just had a bit of a panic attack. You started telling me all about blood vessels and I just got a little wooz-"

"Well, it's important to know those things," she barked back.

"Ok, ok. Whatever. Can we just clean my teeth, now."

"Sure," she said. "I just need to make a little note."

In that cheery, bullshitty voice.


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