Friday, August 5, 2011

The Root of the Matter.

There's never a good time for a root canal. I can think of about a billion other places I'd rather be sitting on a Monday afternoon than in the squeaky, plastic covered chair of an oral surgeon, but when pain wins out and teeth are dead, options are limited.

As a mom, it is especially difficult to run around to several dentist appointments in one day, sitting in chairs and receiving numbing shots. Thankfully my husband had the day off work, so while I sat in the last chair for close to an hour with my mouth forced open by plastic and rubber, wearing protective glasses to keep the shards of tooth and powder from spraying down my throat and into my eyes, I couldn't help thinking how silly I looked and how incredibly uncomfortable and awkward the whole thing is. And I honestly kept looking to my side, wondering if there was a tank full of colorful talking fish, offering advice on how the dentist should proceed.

During my hour of conscious “thinking time” while I ignored the chatter about drill sizes and cotton and the ever-present smell of nauseating antiseptics, I eventually found a happy place. I remembered that the previous Monday I had been in a different chair—an expensive cushioned chair, the chair that I visit four times a year.  Come to think of it I occasionally have my roots done there as well. That cushy chair smells like exotic shampoos and soothing oils; a chair where an expert gives me a relaxing scalp massage and nobody tells me I should floss more.

When at last the root canal was over and the last X-rays were taken, I sat up and checked myself out and paid the bill at the sterile counter. Then I fully realized that not only is it much less painful to have my roots done at Wisteria Salon, but it's a lot cheaper as well. In fact, I might be doing haircuts at home with safety scissors for a few years.

At any rate, I drove myself home with a numb, lop-sided face, filled my prescriptions, then came home to find my little guy was sick and my husband had already cleaned up one episode of the sick. I was reminded again that there is never a good time for a root canal.  (For instance, I had my first root canal as a freshman in high school when my tooth was knocked free during a Christmas Eve basketball practice. It was not ideal timing, and I have had a fake front tooth ever since.)

While the kids and I stayed inside for several days and licked our wounds, I realized more than ever how much my life resembles the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. It all starts with something simple, like my daughter asking me to draw with her at the easel. In order to get to the easel, I need to pick up 400 matchbox cars, which need to be organized by size and color. This allows me to find that long-lost yellow Uno Moo sheep that we couldn't find! I excitedly put the sheep away in the game box which makes me realize the game shelf is a mess, again. So I organize the games and in the meantime find a piece to the princess puzzle the kids started yesterday. Since we were only missing two pieces, this is great news. I place the piece in the puzzle and head back over to the easel to draw with my daughter, but then I notice the paper is unraveling on the ground, so I need a piece of tape to secure it. When I go to my drawer to find the tape I notice some coupons that are about to expire, and so on and so on.

I eventually ended up back in the toy room, marker in hand, facing the easel, sitting on a tiny yellow kid-craft folding chair with my knees scrunched up into my lap. As moms, we sit in a wide variety of all kinds of chairs throughout the week: perhaps you are currently sitting in the chair feeding a newborn baby and trying to catch a few minutes of precious sleep, or maybe you were just sitting in the chair in your minivan driving the kids to and from the store and piano lessons and school.  

And as much as I love a good recliner or those cushy chairs at Wisteria Salon, I'm pretty sure sometimes it's necessary to spend a few uncomfortable hours at the dentist to eliminate the root of the problem.  Since my tooth already feels 100X better than it did last week, maybe those chairs that cause some discomfort are ultimately what I need to take the root of the pain away. It's a stretch, but in another sense, spending a few minutes sitting in a tiny folding chair near an easel in the toy room while ignoring the mess in the room will be a lot more memorable for my daughter than if I spend the morning getting the house organized.  It's a lesson I seem to revisit daily.

So after a week of reflective recovery from our minor set-backs, I am heading into the weekend ready to plop down on the many chairs of motherhood and sink my mended teeth into some strawberry Laffy Taffy. Just kidding Dr. Swinderman!! Just kidding.  And for those who have never had a root canal, I leave you with a link to this video of what you are missing. Enjoy......


Now, most dentist's chairs go up and down, don't they? The one I was in went back and forwards. I thought 'This is unusual'. And the dentist said to me 'Mr Vine, get out of the filing cabinet. ~Tim Vine


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