Dental Dilemmas: Part Three


Since Father’s Day was this past weekend, I thought I might share a memorable experience that I had with my father. Don’t worry, this isn’t sentimental. Anyone who knows my Dad, knows that certainly isn’t his style.

If you know me, you  know that my second biggest fear is going to the dentist’s office. My biggest fear, of course, is that molotov cocktail that is a lasagna dinner and Fudgie the Whale for dessert. I can’t resist Italian food and especially not Fudgie, but the repercussions can be (literally) explosive as the mixture of those two have the exact same reaction as a stick of dynamite. If you have that for dinner at home, who cares; If you’re eating at and you’re at your mother-in-law’s house and you have a forty minute drive home after dinner – you’re gonna be in big trouble. Everyone will sleep better if you just spend the night there. No one has to worry about replacing the fabric on the driver’s seat again or me being forced to evacuate my bowels in the tall grass on Route 684 as deer are running by me frolicking in the middle of the night…But back to the dentist and my father.  

I needed  to have a root canal done and I knew, given my history, that I wouldn’t be able to drive home after it so I couldn’t go alone. I asked everyone that I knew and no one could take me because they were busy. My last resort, I mean my father, said he would take me and then wait for me and I was more than a little concerned. I was concerned not because I felt bad making my father spend his afternoon waiting for me at the dentist’s office; I was concerned because my father is crazy and has about as much sympathy as a serial killer.

So, I had found a dentist that said he would be very gentle and that I wouldn’t be in pain. Another liar, but I had to try because I was having really bad toothaches. I was away at  college, so I had been holding the toothaches off by self-medicating with a mixture of Ketel One and Raspberry Crystal Light, but the pain was getting really intense. Finally it got so bad, that when I was home on break I went to get it fixed. Why doesn’t the dentist just knock you out anymore? When I was younger (separately from the times at the dentist that I was being held down like I was getting a lethal injection) they used to give you really strong drugs and you would wake up hours later and feel groggy, but at least it was over. The gas and Novocaine that they think will help does nothing for me – my Imodium is stronger than that shit.

As I was called into the office from the biggest and most crowded waiting room I had ever seen, I kept telling my father that I would call him when I was done and he didn’t have to wait in the office. One never knew what my father might say or do in any given situation, so it was always a better choice to have him wait in the car. I tried to send him to get coffee or lunch, but he wouldn’t leave. Off I went and tried not to give him a second thought.

The dentist was actually really nice and tried to be very patient with me. They had given me Novocaine and the gas, but it wasn’t calming me down in any way. They had also given me many paper towels because of the sheer buckets of sweat that were pouring out of me, but that didn’t help either. When I get nervous, I sweat profusely and boy was I nervous. If you can picture George Clooney in The Perfect Storm, that’s how drenched in sweat I was.

As he was doing the root canal, things took a bad turn. I was getting nauseous and light-headed and I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to tell him to stop, but with a mouthful of fingers, tools, and drool – you couldn’t blame him for not understanding me. The assistant asked me if I was OK and then said to the dentist “He’s getting very pale” (because I had apparently turned white as a ghost) and with that I tried to stop him from doing anymore. I said “Stop – it’s too much and it hurts – Please” but all he heard me say was “Meeh grehhh duhhh hurzzzz peeeezzzzee” before I jostled and went to try and grab his hand to stop him and then I tried to get up out of the chair and then I fell as I blacked out. I fucking passed out!

As I was coming to, there was a lot of commotion in the room. Someone was saying something about an ambulance and I now had an oxygen mask on. “Are you OK? Can you hear us? Just breathe in the oxygen…Someone get his father!” With that, I opened my eyes to see about ten people fluttering about the room yelling to each other. I tried to take off the oxygen mask and tell them that I didn’t need an ambulance, but more importantly that I most certainly did not need my father in here. I just needed some water and they gave it to me and were trying to sit me up. I tried to drink the water, but I was so dizzy that I just had to lie back again because I thought that I might pass out again. When I heard someone ask the dentist why my shirt was so wet, I chose to ignore that (Yep, I had sweat through that one like a champ too. I was wearing a white polo shirt and white undershirt underneath and they were both soaked through and stuck to me like saran wrap around chopped meat).

I tried to calm myself down, but then started to get really worked up when the dentist asked me if I thought we could finish the root canal. I said no fucking way and that I had to get out of there and go home.  he was obviously crazy to think that we were going any further….When I was a bit steadier, they had the assistant help me out to the waiting room and then it hit me: Oh my God, don’t tell my father. I begged and begged the assistant not to mention it and to pretend like nothing had happened, but it was too late.

As we were walking down the hall from the procedure room to the waiting room, she was reassuring me that a lot of people pass out (and need oxygen? – I don’t think so honey) and that it was absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about when I stopped dead in my tracks and saw him. All the way across that vast waiting room and across all the staring faces was my father. People had heard the commotion and were concerned with what was going on, but not my father. He was in his own world in the far corner reading the Daily News when it hit him that it was me that all the commotion was about and he threw the newspaper down.

Not one to ever be mistaken for a sympathetic or subtle person, he started shouting across the waiting room to no one in particular, so loud that they could hear him in the parking lot : “PUSSY…MY SON…I DON’T BELIEVE THAT IT WAS MY SON…ALL THESE LITTLE KIDS ARE COMING IN AND OUT AND IN AND OUT AND THEY’RE ALL FINE BUT MY SON IS THE PUSSY!…MY…SON…IS…THE…PUSSY! I JUST DON’T BELIEVE IT… I tried to tell him to shut the fuck up, but between the drooling and the numb lips, who the hell knows what was coming out of my mouth so because of the way he was still carrying on, I made a beeline out the front door. The nurse went over to him and tried to explain to him that this does happen a lot and that you have to be gentle in these situations, but it was to no avail. He was just sitting there repeating himself…She tried to help me out of the office, but I was basically turning my walk of shame into a run for the hills…He was still muttering to himself in disgust about how big of a pussy I actually was (apparently there are varying degrees) as he finally got up off his ass and walked out of the office. If my face wasn’t in so much pain and I hadn’t been thoroughly humiliated just moments before, and also if I wasn’t wearing two shirts that were soaked straight though to the bone and stuck to me – I might have beat the shit out of him right there in the parking lot, but I just wanted to get as far away from there as fast as possible. 

I didn’t talk to him the whole ride home partially because I was still a little out of it, but the other part was shock when he said he had to stop so he could put his lotto tickets in. “Are you fucking kidding me?  I was just attacked – please take me home! Forget the fucking Lotto!” Surprisingly, he agreed and took me home. As he recounted what had happened to my brothers when we got home, he was hysterical laughing and telling them about how badly I had embarrassed him – As if I was the lunatic screaming that he was a pussy like someone with Tourette’s Syndrome in front of a waiting room full of people. I just went to go to bed because I knew that if I didn’t lie down right then, that I might pass out again since I was still dizzy. I was just imagining the nightmare of me passing out again, this time in our house and seeing his face hovering over my sprawled out body on the living room rug screaming “I told you he was a Pussy – Get up!”  

Needless to say, I wasn’t a little kid when this happened; I was twenty-five years old. Needless to say, I also never stepped foot back in that Dentist’s office again. The receptionist called me about ten times to try to get me to come back. She said that it happens a lot and that most of the patients probably didn’t even realize what had happened and that it was nothing to be embarrassed of but I told her that there was obviously no way that I could ever go back into that office again since I had been humiliated. She said it actually might help if I had someone more supportive to take me next time, and I tried not to be sarcastic and said “Hello, of course it would – he’s crazy.” I then tried to apologize for his outbursts, but she just laughed. I had to call and get another dentist (which took forever to find another semi-patient and kind one) and have him finish the root canal. I could get over the passing out and the oxygen, but when someone starts shouting in front of a room full of dental staff, parents and their young kids that you’re a pussy, it’s hard to get over that and go back…

As a side note: Years have gone by since this happened,  but to this day I constantly remind my wife and family that if I ever stroke out or drop to the ground with a heart attack or am the victim of a gun shot or have a slip and fall – DO NOT LET MY FATHER ANYWHERE NEAR THE AMBULANCE OR THE HOSPITAL!!!

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