Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: First World Problem (04/17/14)
TITLE: This Tooth Shall Pass
By Cheryl Harrison
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As a child, I suffered severe tooth trauma, which somehow elevated me to the status of “excellent case study” at the local dental college. Unfortunately, this special ranking led to years of dental and orthodontic torment that caused me additional distress. I recall multiple surgeries, one of which resulted in a serious infection. When my mother brought me to the follow-up appointment, a concerned dental student called in his professor, who in turn called in more students to watch. Tears streamed from my eyes as the well-meaning professor poked the tender infected tissue in my mouth. Of all the dentists in the examining room that day, it's the professor's name that I remember. The name tag pinned to his lab coat read, Dr. Pleasant. Oh, the cruel irony of it all.
Needless to say, I am part of the petrified percentage of people who refuse to go to the dentist unless it is absolutely necessary. This leads to my current state of affairs, which started several months ago after I indulged in a piece of hard candy—crack. I think you get the picture. It was not long before the sensitivity to hot and cold liquids began. Soon the inability to chew food on the left side of my mouth finally forced me to schedule the dreaded appointment.
The dentist quickly informed me that a root canal and a crown were the best plan of action. A few days ago, I successfully survived the third of four visits to his office. The nitrous oxide (happy gas) mask helped a lot, but did I fail to mention that I am claustrophobic as well? Add one phobia to another, and you have an aichmophobic that nearly passes out when a stainless steel syringe arrives on the scene. Be still my heart. I can’t believe I actually paid money for this torture!
Trust me; I tried to be fearless. I used relaxation techniques such as reciting scripture passages or singing hymns in my head, but my fearful mind began to dart to and fro. I worried that the Novocain would not work, or that I was going to choke on tooth residue, or that my untameable tongue might tangle with the drill. Ultimately, the sound of the drill pushed me over the precipice, and I convinced myself that the dentist and his assistant were only wearing masks so that I couldn't identify them to the police. Later, after the carnage ended, I mentioned to the dentist that I felt like I was a character in an Edgar Allen Poe story. I'm not sure he caught my drift, but I bet those of you who suffer with dental anxiety understand the comparison.
Why am I telling you this story? Well, it turns out that dental procedures are so expensive that I can’t afford a therapist. Just kidding… I am telling you this story because it seems that most of us suffer from one fear or another. In my case, I suffer from a genuine fear of dentists, closed in spaces, and stainless steel syringes. Still, I must acknowledge that I am blessed to have a dentist who is patient with my concerns. I am also blessed that God knows my fears, and that he constantly reminds me…
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
With this in mind, I should not fret about my fourth and final appointment, right? And, there is absolutely no need to worry about stainless steel syringes or dental drills, because there will be sufficient laughing gas and numbing gel. Oh my, Jesus loves me this I know...
Fear not! This tooth shall pass--2 Hesitations 1:1.
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