The joy of root canals….NOT.

I am up at 5:00 a.m.   Then 6:00 a.m.   And then 6:07 a.m.  And then I finally pull my lazy bones out of bed at 6:08 a.m.  I can hardly contain the excitement.  It is root canal day.   Yes, my sorry mouth is yet again on its way in to the dentist.  My van can practically drive itself there, as I have made weekly trips to visit my good friends at the O’leary Dental Clinic starting in mid- July with appointments set to continue until the end of August.   Good times.   Just the way I always imagined my summer would unfold.

Three cheers for a mouth full of metal, a hefty dental bill and a chronic headache.

We’ve all heard the root canal jokes…”I’d rather have a root canal than watch that movie…”  or “I’d rather have a root canal than listen to so-and-so’s stories about her life”, et cetera.  Well, I had a root canal, lived to tell the tale and I can honestly say that I’d rather do just about anything than have a root canal.  Including spend the night tenting in the rain with my family of six lovies.  Anything.  Seriously.  It was that bad.

For starters, things cannot be good when they have to take four x-rays of one tooth.  And, while they were working on that tooth, they were also trying to do another root canal on another unfortunate soul at the far end of the clinic.  I notice they put the two of us at opposite ends of the building- perhaps so that the bad vibes could be spread evenly throughout the office rather than concentrated at one end.  Anyhoo…

Let’s just say there was plenty of down time in between drilling.  I had lots of time to memorize the ceiling, look behind me for the suction tube, examine my own x-rays and listen in to all the happenings on country radio (whatever channel that is…)  Unfortunately, I also had a rubber dam in my mouth all the while, so there was also plenty of drool going on.  Thus, the reason for my desperate search for the suction piece.  Unfortunately, they had me sitting upright at various points, and I dare you to try to swallow with a dam in your mouth while sitting at a 90 degree angle.  Not easy.  I am sure there is a summer game for this at the Olympics because it requires a great deal of flexibility and the loss of one’s pride.  I managed to do so, but I must say I was ready to do my own root canal after about 15 minutes of sitting there with drool running down my face.

But, the crowning moment-  the moment that is seared into my memory for time immortal was this one.  After about an hour, I started to feel the effects of my one cup of joe that I had en route to the appointment.  I had gone to the washroom prior to my 8:30 a.m. time slot, but anyone who has had a child or two (or four) knows that the old bladder ain’t what it use to be.  So, after about an hour and a half, I needed to go.  Unfortunately, this was right at that point described above when I was desperately looking for the suction tube.  So, after I had had plenty of time to completely scope out the room I was quarantined in, and the dental hygienist had finally returned, I managed to say this: “  ah hab tug a dab a rooo” which being interpreted is “Where the heck have you been for the last half hour, I have to go the bathroom?”  So, she looked at me and said, “Oh, no problem, I’ll just leave the dam in your mouth.  There’s no one in the waiting room right now.  You do know where the washroom is right?”

If anyone knows where the bathroom is in any given building on the face of the earth, it’s me.  I always find the bathrooms.  No matter where I am.  And I usually bring my tooth brush and fully equipped purse along with me, just in case.  So, I had already used this bathroom, brushed my teeth and fixed my hair and examined what was left of my teeth in said washroom when I arrived.  That was not the issue.  It was walking back there, with this green dam hanging out of my mouth that was the source of the slightly awkward vision I was having right now.  And just because there wasn’t anyone in the waiting room at this moment, Missy, does not exempt someone from being there precisely at the moment I enter with that hideous thing in my mouth.  Because the laws of nature have always been for me, “what can go wrong, will go wrong.”

On the other hand, there was the other urgent need to go pressing me onward.  Literally.

So, I trusted her.  If there was no one in the waiting room, then I would bolt out there and back again as fast as humanly possible.

I should have been a sprinter.  I made it to the corner.  And that is when I realized.   She.was.wrong.   There was someone in the waiting room.  Of course there was.  I fully expected this, because that is just my luck.  I avoided making eye contact; in fact, I pretended I was invisible.  And, I ran past him and bolted into the washroom in record time.  Lap one complete.

As tempting as it was to stay in there, there was the slightly weird idea of forever having that thing in my mouth.  So, I knew I had to be a big girl and get my mouth back into the dental chair to complete the very lengthy and expensive process already underway.  So, after a quick look in the mirror ( by which I discovered I had crusty white stuff from who knows what all over my cheeks), I was ready for lap two.  This one was harder.  Because he had already seen me.  And of course, he would have all the more reason to stare harder as I bolted by for the run of my life.  I managed to get by him in double record time, but it was the dental hygienist I met on my way by the prep station that just about made me ready to give up dental appointments forever.

She looked at me, with my hand covering the totally disgusting piece of dripping wet plastic flying back and forth from one side of my face to the other, creating a whip lash effect on against my cheek, and she starts to laugh hysterically at me.

“Oh, are you here on a do-it-yourself appointment?” she chortles As if this was funny.  Or professional.  Yes, Lady, this is exactly what I would choose to do on one of the hottest days of the summer while all the other sane people are at the beach.  Stuff my face full of plastic so that I can pretend I am a dog salivating all over myself. Needless to say, she is NOT my favorite dental hygienist anymore.

So, in the future, when people use that joke about root canals, I will be completely un-amused and ready with a comment of my own:   “I would rather run by a complete stranger heading desperately for the washroom, all with a drooly rubber dam hanging out of my mouth, than get a root canal.”  And that’s the truth.

I think.

Joy in small moments…

I broke a fourth tooth in less than a year, all while eating a bagged lunch the other day.  A lunch that my husband had prepared for me, nonetheless.  I was eating alphabet pretzels when the tooth crumbled, in case you are wondering- creating a taste sensation of unparalleled proportions as it mixed in with all the other crunchy bits and pieces in the process of being swallowed down gulp at a time.  I had originally purchased the bagged snack/teaching tool for my students so as to make learning fun. FUN, I say.  Just like I was having now that my appetite had suddenly vanished.  Glad my little friends never had the joy of eating these tasty little morsels, as they are like crunching on driveway gravel. Particularly when mixed in with enamel.

I have been a bit of a cranky Mama bear lately.  And for good reason.  Turns out I have been grinding my teeth into gunpowder while trying to catch a few zzz’s in the process.  The dentist today remarked on the extreme power in my jaws which would have been flattering if he hadn’t had my mouth propped open with a two-by-four made out of a cotton ball and a piercing bright light shining on the gaping hole in there, further magnifying my chipped teeth and swollen gum line.

I look like a light-weight boxing competitor who has seen better days.  And indeed I have.  Seen better days, that is.

Life is all about perspective, right?  So with that in mind, I set out this evening to find a little piece of joy in nature so as to cast some illumination on an otherwise expensive ($2,200 worth of upcoming dental work), depressing (there goes the camper we were going to buy) and discouraging (I am wondering if false teeth are an option for a 38 year old mother of four) day.

I took a walk sans children, husband or friends.  I set out with a view in mind, that being the picturesque Mill River winding its way gracefully along the shores of red clay in Western Prince Edward Island.  It was for me, more of a pity party at first.  Poor me, why me, why now…yada yada.  Then, I began noticing a few things.  A  fuzzy caterpillar, and then another, crawling along the side of the road.  The elegant lupins, just beginning to emerge in hues of pink, fuschia and indigo.  A broken clothespin.  How did that arrive in my path?  The Queen’s Anne Lace, stooping to touch soft grass growing beneath.

And after a few more moments, I drew my gaze up and far down the path I was travelling, and the view of the water quite took my breath away.

The deep blue of the river, gently lapping the red sandstone. The road leading fishers to a point of entrance.  A boat floating tranquilly in shallow water.  The jagged rock underfoot.  Wooden staircases from cottage lots down to the shore.  A black dog, standing still and free in the river.  The sound of a lawnmower in the distance cutting blades of green summer lawns.  The smell of the water- pungent salt mixed with sweet algae. The beauty of the evening, soon fading to twilight.  This glorious evening of an almost-summer day.

And in the beauty of these moments, these brief interludes of time, in between reality past and reality future, I realized that I could be happy.  Right now.  I did not have to make a promise for fifteen minutes away, nor did I need to make compensations for the misery of hours ago while under the drill of my watchful dentist.  I could just commit to right now.  This was pure, unadulterated happiness.  To be alone in nature in blessed quietness. Does it get any better than this?

When we allow ourselves brief moments in which to feel joy, we find happiness is not so elusive.  And what makes us happy will in turn bring us joy in wave after wave of memory, as we return to that place of pleasure again and again in our minds.  Like those waves on a shore formed of red clay that I experienced tonight.  Our memory, that collective of sounds, sights, triggers and emotions that help to form for us reminiscences of those freeze-frame windows in time that we hope never to forget.  It is a gift.

We touch the face of joy, those of us who can live out our days as small moments rather than large time periods.  I can say I have had a bad day, but really I had a few bad moments.  Those moments will surely lead to more unpleasant moments in the days to come, as I seek to remedy these chipped and broken teeth.  But, there were moments in this day that were pure pleasure.  The moments right before bed when I cuddled with each of my children, one by one.  When I snuggled the youngest, read with the next in line- my middle child, when I kissed the warm forehead of my oldest daughter, and shared a laugh with my very oldest, my son.  Those moments are just as much a part of my day as were those horrific ones at the dentist’s office.  And so, I choose. JOY.

Again, and again and again.  I choose joy.  In the small moments.

Because that is not too much ask.  And I can commit to something small like a moment.