I sat back in the dental chair, feeling the room sway along with my stomach and listening to my heart, beating as though it would burst from my chest, yet paralyzed and unable to run screaming from the room as I wished I could do. The dainty hygienist gently peeked inside my mouth with her tiny mirror and suddenly recoiled in horror, barely concealing her gagging. She stepped backwards twice before twirling and leaping across the room, disappearing behind a filing cabinet wall to the safety of another hygienist. Mumbled hysterics followed by silence as the room grew heavy with impending doom. Heavy footsteps walked purposefully toward me, increasingly loud until a new hygienist with eyes as cold as steel and fingers as large as sausages appeared, towering over my trapped, defenseless body. She gruffly told me to open up and continued scolding me to open wider as she ripped at my jaw with one hand while piercing my tender gums with unseen metal spears. Push, stab, pinch, pull and searing pain causing the tears to roll down my cheeks until a second face suddenly appeared over me. As I looked up into the nostrils of my tormenters with shiny, white fangs, they grinned mercilessly and stuck a camera into my mouth. A screen was abruptly placed in front of me so that they could show me the rotting, decayed remnants of my teeth, magnified so that it looked like a nightmare in my mouth. I tried closing my eyes, so they began describing the damage of childhood fillings that leaked, no longer fit and hid decay that even the extreme close-up didn’t show. Years of avoiding dental hell due to poverty and crippling fear had destroyed my teeth and gums and I found myself facing the reality that my mouth was too putrid to ever experience my husband’s wonderful, toe-curling kisses again. Never again will I smile without my lips tightly sealed together.
And that’s exactly what happened, more or less.
Well, maybe I don’t go until this afternoon, but that’s what it always feels like in my mind.