Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Slightly Hysterical

Yesterday I had that 'root canal' that I was dreading so much.

To anyone who is about to have one- don't worry! You can't feel a thing and it's absolutely fine. Now off you pop, carefree and confident about your upcoming procedure. Bye bye! Have a nice evening petal, you've got nothing to be scared of!

Are they gone?

Right, for everyone else, here's my rather hysterical* account of what actually happened yesterday:

I went into the dentists feeling relatively calm and composed, after speaking to three people who have had root canals recently. They all said it was absolutely painless. The dentist that Kayt found for me is based in a beautiful apartment converted into a surgery, with pretty paintings on the wall and- somewhat mysteriously-Chinese writing tools places artfully on antique wooden dressers. The waiting area is a small, tastefully decorated living room and sitting in it, I could almost pretend that me and Kayt had been asked by the maid of some grand estate to 'please wait in the parlour room while ma'am prepares herself to receive you.'

As we waited, I started to feel a bit nervous. It's been so long (almost five years) since I've been to a dentist that until last week, I'd forgotten how FUCKING TERRIFIED I am of people in white coats shining a bright light in my face and putting pointy, sharp things in my mouth.

We flicked through the magazines lying on the table. We read an article about an English man who has the smallest caravan in the world- it is literally just a bed with wheels and a roof over it. In the article it said that English people like 'to queue, to drink tea... and to own caravans' (I posted a picture of the article on Twitter if you want proof of my extravagant claims) which I thought was quite funny, but my laugh was superficial- I might have smiled and made the normal tittering sounds, but behind my eyes there was only Cold Dread.

I was called through into the treatment room. As we left the pretty waiting room, with terracotta walls and dark wooden furniture, I tried to tell myself that I had nothing to worry about. Calm down, don't panic. Don't work yourself up, don't work yourself up.

I lay back on the chair and the dentist placed some blue paper towels around my neck. Oh shit, this is quite  a big procedure, isn't it? Don't panic. It's normal, lot's of people have to have 'root canals'. Don't panic.

She anesthetized the area around my tooth with an injection. I was actually quite worried about the injection because I remember going to the dentist's when I was about fourteen to have a filling and the injection to numb the area was the most painful part of the whole experience. But this time the injection didn't hurt at all. See, that wasn't as bad as you thought! It's going to be all right- you're older now, you have a higher pain threshold. You're a grown up, it's fine. It's FINE.

She waited a few minutes for the anesthetic to work it's magic. While she waited she busied herself preparing her horrendous-looking instruments of torture, lining them all up in front of me so that I had to stare at the ceiling in order to avoid seeing how terrible they truly were. Don't look at them, what you don't know can't hurt you. I wonder how long this will take?

After about five minutes the dentist started acting as if she was ready to start pulling my brain out through my nose, or whatever it was she was planning to do. She disappeared for a second and I took the opportunity to stick a finger in my mouth and have a prod around. I could still feel the gum on one side as if it hadn't been anesthetized at all. My bottom lip was completely numb but I could still feel the tooth and most of the gum around it. I started to panic a little bit. I thought the whole thing would be numb, but like this I would be able to feel something. I didn't like it one bit. This is going to hurt, this is going to hurt...

She got straight in there with a long pointy needle thing and it fucking HURT. She was scraping out the hard white stuff she put in last week. I couldn't talk because my mouth was kind of clamped open with these weird things that looked like giant cigarette filters and she also had me holding this long, glowing stick in my mouth that was hissing air everywhere. It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. IT HURTS.

"Arghnerghahh!" I yelled through the cotton wool filters and the neon, glowing tube thing.

She stopped and asked me if it was hurting 'already'.

"Nergh." I nodded.

She seemed surprised, but then she just carried on with what she was doing! Shit, am I supposed to feel a bit of pain? I thought. I can't go through with it if I had to feel it! I had been lead to believe I'd feel nothing...

I always secretly thought that one day I'd discover I had a really high pain threshold and was secretly a really strong character, beneath all the crying and sulking I do. I used to fantasise that some day, somehow, I'd die a brave, noble martyr of some kind (I don't know what my cause would be, maybe cheaper bus fares in the Greater Manchester area?) and my death would be announced on the evening news, accompanied by footage of hundreds of Third World children throwing themselves on my coffin, wailing for their beloved champion who was so brave and always inspiring (and always had such beautiful hair) despite being shot five times by guerrilla fighters... or perhaps she was a guerrilla fighter herself, resisting a cruel dictatorship whilst running around the jungle looking cool with a gun (and managing to maintain a fabulous tan at all times)...

Well that little daydream was shot to shit on Monday morning because I now know I can not stand ANY pain in any shape or form. I went all stiff and my hands were shaking and Kayt came and held my hand.

I had a horrible thought that maybe everyone else is made of harder stuff than me and the truth is that root canals do hurt, but normal people just grin and bear it.

Well you can fuck off, I thought. I made a rash plan to headbutt the dentist, leap over Kayt and run away into the streets of Paris, where I would find someone who would knock me out and take all my teeth (I'd offer them fifty euros), so I could replace them with a set of ceramic falsies and never have to worry about another dentist again... Fortunately, as this plan was forming, the dentist finally decided I wasn't being a lying Drama Queen and gave me another injection of anesthetic.

This time, it worked. Once the anesthetic kicked in, I couldn't feel anything at all and it was fine. But. It's The Idea that I hate more than anything (well, ok, I hate The Actual Pain more but The Idea comes a close second). I felt physically sick at the thought of what she was doing. I tried to make myself feel better by thinking of all the millions of worse things that could be happening to me... Having my leg sawed off without anesthetic, having my eyes pecked out of my head by crows, female circumcision. Funnily enough, this didn't make me feel any better.

Towards the end it started to hurt again and I let out a yelp when she stuck the long sucky tube in there to suck out all the... I think I'm going to be sick.

I kept thinking 'How long will this take?' and praying that she would be soon be over and then at least I would never have to go through the experience again. I vowed to never eat sugar again as long as I lived.

Eventually, I figured out that she was putting that weird white stuff back in, sealing up the hole... It must be finally over.  She was in a little routine of turning round to a tray I couldn't see, picking something up, turning back round to me and sticking something inside my tooth. Whilst she did this, she was humming. (She hummed the entire time, by the way. It was a bit sinister.) Suddenly, she turned back to me and stopped for a millisecond. She turned back round to her tray, slightly slower. I was sure I hadn't imagined. it. Something had gone wrong.

She said something to Kayt in French that I didn't understand and Kayt didn't translate it for me.

"Did you get that?" she asked me.

I shook my head and she opened her mouth to tell me, but I heard was the quick intake of breath that indicates a hesitation.

The dentist repeated herself and I thought I head the words 'blood' and 'dry'.

Kayt looked at me: "She says there's too much blood so... she can't finish it. You'll have to come back."

My eyes widened. I bet I looked like an extra in some sick horror film, my mouth frozen open, filled with blood and disgusting metal things, only my eyes showing their terror.

The dentist took everything out of my mouth quickly and I closed my mouth. I didn't say anything because I didn't have anything to say.

So... I have to go back to the dentist again. I decided this was as good a reason as any to break my 'no sugar for life' vow and bought myself a very delicious mille feuilles for lunch. I guess I will never learn my lesson.

*For those of you not familiar with the English language, I mean hysterical as in 'oh my god oh my god' not as in very, very funny. I might laugh at my own jokes sometimes like a twat but I would never go so far as announce my own writing as 'hysterical'. I just thought I'd clear that up as got a bit paranoid for a moment.


  1. Sounds more like a torture chamber! She should have made absolutely sure that you didn't need two injections before she started. And I can't believe there wasn't a dental assistant and you had to hold the sucking tube yourself!!!! GM

    1. I had completely forgotten that dentists are supposed to have assistants but now you mention it, of course I shouldn't have had to hold the sucky thing. Oh god, terrifying. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Oh dear, I'd be hysterical as well! I'm sure the next appointment will be okay though, sounds like there's not much left to do (especially if you could eat a millefeuille without pain, I would have been too scared to try sugar until I knew the hole was all sealed up - although I suppose if the nerve has been pulled out, sugar can no longer hurt it?) Bon courage!

    1. I really, really bloody hope there's not much left to do. Thanks for the support!