Last year I went through two episodes of dental hell.** Yesterday, I decided for the fun of it to visit hell, again.
It started on Sunday. We took the long drive down to my parents’ house, surprised them with a few hours alone with Lyra, and went to see The Simpsons Movie at a theatre just a few blocks from their house. Since we’ve only seen one movie since Lyra was born, this was bound to be a rare treat. Top it off with the fact that my beloved Chargers were playing the nasty New England Patriots, and for once I wasn’t going to miss the game. Football season is the toughest thing about not having cable. All in all, it was shaping up to be a very good day.
So we drop Lyra off with the grandparents, who were so giddy to see their grandchild, you might think we were visiting from out of state. And off we go to movies. We have rewards card for that theater and on this trip we earned a free small popcorn and Milk Duds for one dollar. Imagine the luck!
With popcorn buttered and salted (yummy, yummy salt) and fresh Milk Duds in our hands, we settled into fourth row seats and laughed at those funny, yellow people on the screen. While Garrett quickly grew tired of the sweet-salt-sweet-salt alternation on his taste buds, I happily took handfuls of popcorn, followed by two Milk Duds (always two), followed by more popcorn, then washed down with Sprite.
It felt wonderfully gluttonous. But gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and soon Satan would come and play in my mouth. Knee deep in the Milk Duds phase of my movie food orgy, I suddenly felt what I thought was a rock. I panicked, simultaneously worrying I might crack a tooth and freaking out that a pebble had somehow gotten into my box of Milk Duds. I reached into my moth to pull out the offending stone, only to discover it was no stone at all. It was my crown, all chocolate-covered and filled with caramel where the gold underside should be.
My heart sank.
I pictured myself once again lying that chair for hours, jaw stretched until aching, gums irritated and sore. I thought back to that time just a year ago when I spent every day for a full week in my dentist’s chair, because the temporary crown kept falling off, or was put on so badly I couldn’t close my mouth. I thought about the weeks and months afterward where I had to wince every time I drank something cold, and avoided ice cream like the plague.
I teared up remembering the first crown and how I wasn’t numbed enough, but didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to be feeling anything, because my dentist never asked and I had never gotten a crown before. I remembered how by the time he was finished I was covered in sweat and tears were streaming out of my eyes because I just couldn’t hold back crying from the pain anymore. And I was humiliated to be crying in front of strangers, but after an hour, the drilling, grinding, and scraping were just to much to bear. I cursed myself for every dental appointment I had decided not to make in the past decade. And now in the dark of the movie theatre, when I should have been laughing at the genius of The Simpsons’ writers, all I could think about was how much I didn’t want to go through that again.
But in the midst of all this fear, I was forgetting something. Until July 9th, getting those two crowns (particularly the first one) amounted to the worst pain I had ever experienced. As my due date loomed and some fear of labor and my ability to handle it came up, I would reminded myself that I got a crown put on without being numb. That if I could survive that pain, I could survive anything. Of course, we now know that labor was the easy part. Perfectly survivable. There is pain worse than labor. Getting a crown doesn’t even come close.
I wish I had realized that when I sat in the dentist chair yesterday and prepared for the worst. The worst didn’t happen. A quick application of cement, a few minutes of dry time, and I was good to go. All it cost me was a $19 co-pay (Why is it that dental insurance doesn’t pay 100% of anything, ever?). Bringing the total cost of my Milk Duds to $20. Man, candy is expensive these days.
**I wrote about this extensively on the old blog. I’m trying to get those posts over here. When I do, I’ll add some links to those dental stories, so that you have the full background, should you want it.