For the first 34 years of my life, I prided myself on being cavity-free. Just before I turned 35, I got my very first cavity. I was pissed. And terrified. No matter how many allergy shots I had as a kid, how many IVs I have been given for surgical procedures, regardless of the countless liters of fluids administered during my puke-laden pregnancy, and innumerable blood draws I have received, I remain wholly phobic of needles. I spent over a month dreading my filling.
The day of the appointment, my husband called me to check in. I told him how nervous I was, and asked what I needed to know about getting a filling. He warned that I would probably feel weird talking afterward and that drinking would be difficult because all the water would dribble out of my mouth. Great. Then I asked how badly the Novacaine injection would hurt. “It hurts a lot,” he told me, “I’m not gonna lie.” “Why did I call you?” I complained. “I should’ve called my mom instead.” He reminded me that actually, he had called me. Whatever.
When I arrived at the dentist’s office, I quickly used the bathroom first, trying to ward off any possible pants-peeing and/or crapping, or any anxiety vomiting. Better get that out of my system beforehand, right? I noticed in the mirror that I had actually developed a rash on my chest thanks to my nerves. Kind of amazing how the body responds to stress, isn’t it?
I told the dentist how upset and concerned I was, and jokingly asked if she could give me anything stronger. She declined. Then I suggested that her office team up with a marijuana dispensary, given that it’s legal in Colorado. She agreed that it was a fantastic idea. However, I was left with nothing but the needle, some numbing cream, and my iPod to help distract me from my misery. My lovely dentist explained the procedure and pointed out that the location and depth of my cavity was favorable in terms of localization and degree of pain. I was still skeptical.
I turned on my meditative chant, closed my eyes, and waited for the numbing cream to take effect. Once it had, my dentist told me she would inject 25% of the Novacaine and then wait 3 minutes to inject the rest. She grabbed my cheek and jiggled it. I clenched my toes in anticipation.
“How was that?” she asked expectantly. I gave her a strange look. “Did you already do it?” I asked with confusion. Yes. Yes, she had. This was what my husband had described as terribly painful? Don’t make me laugh. Then something dawned on me.
The last time I had received an injection of local anesthetic, I was in the delivery room, having just given birth. My OB was, you know, stitching up my hoo-hah. In fact, the medication wore off at one point, and I cheerfully announced while nursing my new baby, “I think I probably need another shot- I can feel that.”
So. I guess that explains why my husband would describe the mouth injection as “hurting a lot.” Clearly, he had never experienced a needle to his man-parts. In fact, as my filling appointment concluded, I told my dentist and hygienist (still possessing the ability to speak clearly; maybe my dentist is just that good.) that I would go so far as to describe the experience as relaxing, at least in comparison to spending the afternoon chasing my toddler around.
Which would you prefer? Pushing out a baby or spending a few hours in the dentist chair?