The Day I Dreaded

October 25, 2007
The Day I Dreaded
Bump…Bump…Bump, I bounce up and down in the passenger seat as our black Le Sabre makes it’s way down the road. The silence surrounding me is deafening. I can hear every whir, whiz, crunch, pop…any noise my mom’s car makes, I can hear. My mom isn’t making a sound. I take a quick glance in her direction. She’s paying attention to the road; her eyes glazed over and face blank, lost in thought. No need to disturb her. I flick on the radio to my favorite station, B96. I listen to the song that happens to be playing and soon I am absorbed in the music, tangled up and trapped in my own thoughts.

I recall a memory as clear as the cloudless, blue sky flashing by above me. I am sitting at the kitchen table in my house, with the sun streaming in my face, as hot tears trickle down my cheeks. I don’t even bother to brush them off my face; they just slowly drip off my chin onto the glossy, plastic tablecloth. An ache builds in my chest as my hands grow wet and clammy. My mom is there. She talks to me from behind the kitchen counter and out of her mouth flows warm words of comfort and practical advice. I hear her, but not really. I am too engulfed in the sound of pumping blood and the increasing pace of my thudding heart against my ribs.

All of a sudden, the memory is over. I am back in my car, gazing out the window as blurs of lush, green trees and gray buildings fly by. Soon my mom swerves right, into a nearly empty parking lot and chooses a spot in the checkerboard of yellow and black. She turns the key in the ignition. The hum of the engine and radio die away and seem lost forever. Silence again. I know what comes next but I can’t bring myself to do it. I feel as if my whole body has been submerged in ice cold water. I’m numb from head to toe and I can’t bring myself to move. I sigh and pull myself away from the foreboding waters, finally grasping the handle of the car door and pushing it open. I slam the door shut behind me and walk slowly, but with determined strides, across the parking lot and to the door of my intended destination.

It’s hazy for a moment as I step from the outside parking lot into the waiting room. The strong lights overhead temporarily blind me and it takes a minute for me to adjust. Soon my eyes can focus again and I see everything. The room looks just like it did before, when I was here last time for my check up. Bright lights, stark, white walls, rows of chairs with obscurely patterned cushions lining the walls and center of the room. Cheap coffee tables lined with magazines and a long reception desk where women with fake smiles who speak even faker kind words sit. Slowly, I amble over and take a seat on one of those tacky cushions. I sit quietly and try to combat my endless shaking and twitching, as I go over my mom’s instructions and advice in my head.

My heart leaps…a nurse who came from the door leading to the dentists’ offices just called my name. I slowly get up and follow the nurse into the never-ending corridor lined with intimidating closed doors; my mom trailing behind. The nurse leads me to a suprisingly well-lit room with an uncomfortable looking, plastic-covered, dentist chair in the center. I sit on the chair and right away my eye catches the sharp utensils sitting on a tray near me. A chill goes through me but I force myself to take deep breaths and to pry my eyes away from the unwelcome objects. For a while it is just my mom, the nurse, and I, and I am content. But soon my mom swiftly kisses me on the head, tells me everything will be all right, and exits the room. Five or more female nurses in light blue, starchy uniforms replace her. I feel like I am being submerged in water again. I can’t move, but this time I really can’t move. I’m stuck in this odious room and there is no way out. My heartbeat quickens and I intake air in raspy breaths. I talk to myself inside my head and tell myself to calm down. Finger and wrist clamps are placed on me to monitor my heart rate. An arm brace is placed on my right arm, leaving me immobile. The nurses chatter around me in friendly voices, but I hear nothing they are saying. One of the nurses massages my arm and pumps her fingers steadily into my flesh for distraction but I am already long gone, trying to lose myself in my happy place. I envision myself at a castle in Germany, providing my own already prepared distraction for the upcoming pain I am dreading. The oral surgeon finally arrives and it is time. I gulp and quickly intake air. I focus on a piece of the blinds in front of me, relax my whole body, and take deep breaths, in and out. I feel the cold mist on my arm and smell the pungent aroma in the air from the surgeon’s numbing spray. Then…a quick, sharp pain and it is done. The room grows opaque as the IV soaks in and they place an oxygen mask on my nose and a rubber stopper in my mouth. Just before I drift off, how silly I am really hits me. I was so scared for that needle and the surgery that followed. I prepared myself ahead of time, going over ways to deal with my fear of pain with my mom and spent countless hours crying. But in the end, I barely felt a thing. I understood right then that I may despise certain things and dread them all my life, but when it really comes down to it, when I have to be brave, I will.

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