Friday, April 04, 2008

This is going to hurt just a little bit*

* Title of the poem from Ogden Nash.

So I chipped my tooth. Serves me right. It was one of those midnight raids on the refrigerator - a no-no as I am for the umpteenth time on a diet. Just a little bit - my usual motto when it comes to food - and CRACK! Was actually ok until I woke up the next morning and tried to have my usual caffeine intake. The pain, the excruciating pain!


I actually had an instant head-ache. Not because of the pain, but the mere thought of going to the dentist. I am good with my six month check-ups. That I manage to handle without losing too much of my pride. This would be different! This would be needles and that dreaded drill. I thought of all of the things I would willing trade at that point in my life just not to go. Labour readily came to mind - was my judgment clouded by the fourteen year time lapse? Not sure, but was willing to trade at that point in time.

Headed into Accra with visions of the drill, me losing my tooth and getting dentures that would constantly fall out and embarrass me readily came to mind. Didn't matter that it was one of those all the way at the back of my month. Third time lucky - on my fourth try finally found an available - and recommended - dentist. I was ready to open wide. Or at least that was the plan until I saw the needle. Four injections and one restraining jacket later I was still terrified by the sight and sound of the drill.

Found a poem that said exactly how I felt yesterday morning - or better still every time I go to the dentist. Was actually shared with me by one of my colleagues. Hadn't read his work before, but have now made a point to do so.


This Is Going To Hurt Just A Little Bit
One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open.

And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen.

Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,

But the one that is both is dental.

It is hard to be self-possessed
With your jaw digging into your chest.

So hard to retain your calm

When your fingernails are making serious alterations in your life line or love line or some other important line in your palm;

So hard to give your usual effect of cheery benignity
When you know your position is one of the two or three in life most lacking in dignity.

And your mouth is like a section of road that is being worked on.

And it is all cluttered up with stone crushers and concrete mixers and drills and steam rollers and there isn’t a nerve in your head that you aren’t being irked on.

Oh, some people are unfortunate enough to be strung up by thumbs.

And others have things done to their gums,
And your teeth are supposed to be being polished,

But you have reason to believe they are being demolished.


And the circumstance that adds most to your terror
Is that it’s all done with a mirror,
Because the dentist may be a bear, or as the Romans used to say, only they were referring to a feminine bear when they said it, an ursa,
But all the same how can you be sure when he takes his crowbar in one hand and mirror in the other he won’t get mixed up, the way you do when you try to tie a bow tie with the aid of a mirror, and forget that left is right and vice versa?

And then at last he says That will be all; but it isn’t because he then coats your mouth from cellar to roof

With something that I suspect is generally used to put a shine on a horse’s hoof.


And you totter to your feet and think. Well it’s all over now and afterall it was only this once.

And he says come back in three monce.

And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,
That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good condition
when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition is so that he won’t have to go to the dentist.



Suffice to say my dentist has lovingly eyed my wisdom teeth, which I have been warned before will have to be removed. I need to make up my mind in 6 months to do so. I think its time to change dentists - don't you?

1 comment:

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

3 things I'll say. First, your description of pre-dentist fears is so real, exactly how I feel on a pre-dental morning. Secondly, I have always overlooked Ogden Nash when I am reading my various anthologies, but, I admit, this is one of the most poignant poems I have read about a practical, everyday (?) subject. Third, Denise, I know you are busy, but why don't you post a bit more often? I miss the blogging you! :)