I’m headed to the dentist tomorrow and I’m scared out of my fucking mind. If there is a God, she really should have spent more time before implementing this whole TEETH thing. Don’t get me wrong! I’m a big fucking fan of chewing food. It’s pretty cool. And I totally love saying CHEESE while standing awkwardly in a forced pose just so someone can create an image of us forever frozen in time showing the world our pearly whites for no obvious reason whatsoever. But teeth are also really fucking weird. They turn various shades of yellow which is disgusting. And they sometimes get in the way. Anyone who has ever been involved in a heavy make out session will agree that there is nothing quite as disgusting and terrifying as the front teeth of two lovers accidentally clanking against each other just as the pants are about to come off. Teeth also decay. They break. And they need fixing which awful, too. I’m not advocating for a toothless world, here. I’m not saying that whatever powers that be should have made our mouths empty slobbering fleshy voids. But couldn’t these things have been made a little more durably?
A lot of things were neglected during my six year drunk vomit fest. I gained weight, I stopped paying close attention to my skin, and towards the end I just began to deteriorate physically in so many ways. And now I’m doing to the cleanup work and it’s really fucking scary. The idea that someone is going to have to put their hands inside of my mouth and yank and pull and drill and file and bang and twist and grind and tap and pick and do the cha cha REALLY makes me just want to puke and crawl into a hole and cry and eat candy. But the appointment is tomorrow morning at 11AM and there is nothing I can do about it but show up.
This fear is different, though. This fear is still blinding and makes my heart pound faster but it isn’t the kind of fear that kept me stationary and refusing to take action to protect my own health and wellbeing. I now know that I CAN and WILL make it to the dentist and I can and will get the work done that needs to be done. But I never would have been able to take this step without stopping with the booze. How insane does that sound? Something that normal people do on a regular basis became an unapproachable and impossible mountain of terror. To think that I could have been years away from becoming Cousin Cleetus, the banjo player, is really fucking creepy.
Everything (and I do mean everything) was so much more difficult back then. Even impossible. Sitting down to pay bills took extraordinary amounts of energy and focus and created so much anxiety that I started doing it only after consuming a few drinks. Going to any event where alcohol wouldn’t be present was like jumping into a really deep pool and being asked to hold my breath for a few hours. I’d still be expected to conduct myself like a normal human being despite the fact that I was slowly drowning. There were things that I felt I simply HAD to do but those things became fewer and further between. Some bills stopped being paid for absolutely no reason even when I had the money to pay them. I began declining invites to events that I would have once forced myself through. And going to the doctor or to the dentist were completely off the table. For what? So they could tell me that I was dying? No thank you. Gimme pina colada, please.
After a pretty bad toothache about three years ago, my boyfriend began harassing me so aggressively about making an appointment to get it checked out that I finally did just to make him shut the fuck up. It was a cold winter morning. A Saturday. I was hungover. I walked up to the dentist’s office on a typical looking residential street in Queens and stood outside. I was early and the sun was blinding and there was snow on the ground. I took out a cigarette and it occurred to me that it’s probably not a good idea for my mouth to smell like cancer right before a nice innocent man has to climb inside of it. This was back when I still smoked, obviously. I would end up quitting a few months later even though I have no idea how I managed that one. My heart was pounding through my chest and I was close to tears. I considered a quick dash around the corner to the bar to have a beer even though it was only 9AM. That would calm me down. But he’d smell that, too. I thought about going to that same bar and having that beer and then not even going to the appointment but telling my boyfriend that I had. Finally, I put the cigarette away and made my legs move and suddenly I was sitting in the chair, reclined, and crying.
I don’t remember much. He was poking around. They did xrays that made me gag for some reason. They cleaned my teeth and I screamed a few times when I felt a weird vibration. And then he told me things. He said this tooth needed this done and that tooth needed that and that I should see the front desk to make appointments for the procedures. I paid for the visit and told the nurse I would call to schedule follow ups once I had a chance to “look at my schedule.” I needed to see if I could squeeze oral health into my busy agenda of vomiting, moaning, sleeping, and chugging . She gave me their card, I walked out into the freezing air and lit a cigarette and never went back. This whole charade got the boyfriend off my back for a bit but he has been bothering me about it off and on for the past three years.
So tomorrow it all begins. And while I am paralyzed by fear, I am also eerily and aggressively ready to get this shit taken care of. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of worrying. I’m tired of biting into something and feeling a sudden pain shoot through my face. I’m tired of looking at a decent smile and knowing that if I don’t take care of myself, I could lose it.
I like to think that my disease is really fucking pissed off at me that I’m going to the dentist tomorrow. He wants me sick. He wants awful things to happen to me so maybe I’ll go back to him for comfort, to numb the pain. If he had it his way, it would just be me and him under a bridge somewhere. I’d be toothless and smelling like piss. And he’d be the same as he’s always been. And as I took a swig from my half pint of Georgi, he’d make me feel warm all over and tell me just how beautiful I am.
No fucking thank you.