Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Living in Fear

You’d think a horror writer, reader, and movie aficionado wouldn’t find everyday things anything but mundane.  You’d be wrong, at least in my case.  I live in absolute terror of the normal stuff.

I’m more fascinated than scared by the supernatural.  I love going into places that are supposedly haunted.  I delight in the idea that there might be creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster prowling about.  I devour UFO-sightings with great voraciousness.  I want to see a ghost, mythical beast, or an alien in the worst way.  Such things don’t inspire fear, just a nervous thrill of anticipation.

Yet the other day I was shaking in my shoes.  I had a dentist appointment and it made my stomach roil.  Yep, you could set me among spirits, sasquatches, and E.T.s and I’d be fine.  But going to the dentist or doctor?  Oh hell no.

It’s so bad that I wait until I’m in great misery before I’ll venture to even look up a name in a phone directory.  Then it might take me two or three weeks before I finally make an appointment.  I visit doctors and dentists so seldom that the last one I saw is usually retired or dead.  We are talking body shaking, hands sweating, nausea-inducing dread here.  I’m downright phobic about it.

The last time I saw a dentist, things had progressed drastically.  I ended up with four cavities filled, four old fillings replaced, and a root canal.  I am cursed with bad dental genetics from my father’s side.  He and my brother have had many problems with their teeth.  I know I should get regular checkups.  Brushing, flossing, and fluoride rinses used religiously cannot save my poor choppers.  Yet, I can’t make myself visit the dentist until I have throbbing pain that keeps me from sleep.

I’d reached that point again.  I knew a tooth was in trouble, possibly to the point of being yanked out (because this girl is not having another root canal even if it means a checkerboard smile).  Tylenol was getting gobbled up faster than the leftover Halloween candy.  Yet the last thing in this world I wanted to do is climb in that torture-chamber chair, have the light shined in my mouth, and see the dentist tally up her winnings from my oral agony.  Dr. Frankenteeth was rubbing her hands together in anticipation.

Okay, so maybe Dr. Barbara wasn’t the mad scientist-type after all.  In fact, she was a very pleasant gal, brilliant conversationalist, and all-around perfect dentist to hold the hand of paranoid me.  She dealt with my crazed phobia with the aplomb of a person who’d seen it all.  She told me of big, strong construction workers who’d fainted dead away in the hall before they’d even set eyes on the chair from which their teeth would be drilled and filled. 

And I had no cavities.  No need for tooth yanking.  My issue might have been from the fact I grind my teeth in my sleep, the ill-adjusted crown in my mouth (which Dr. Barbara painlessly fixed in a matter of seconds), or my pesky sinuses recovering from last week’s cold.  It could have been a combination of these things.  In short, I freaked out over a lot of nothing.

Oh twisted Fate, why have you delivered me a horror of oral vigilance rather than of things that go bump in the night? Why does just a checkup inspire such dread?  Why is it that having cavities filled is the height of torture for me?  Did I run around punching people in their mouths in a past life?  Is this some kind of toothy karma?  And why hasn’t Stephen King written a novel about a supernatural killer dentist yet?  Surely that belongs up there with demons, possessed hotels, and vampires.  Dr. Barbara seems awesome on the surface, but is there some hideous beast dwelling beneath that sweet smile and gentle jibes to get my teeth cleaned more regularly?  Oh, I think I see the evil that’s truly waiting, biding its time until I am rendered defenseless under happy gas and metal torture devices glint at the ready inside my mouth. 

However, I have dodged the immediate torment.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and the world will end before early next month when I have to face the cleaning Dr. Barbara talked me into. 


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