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!!!

Dental Dilemmas: Part Two


I’d like to tell you that as I got older, I became mature and that I got over my fears of the dentist and became a normal patient – but if I said that then that would be a lie.

I was talking about my horrible dental experiences with my friend at work one day and she told me that I had to go and see her dentist. She swore by him and said he was the most gentle dentist that she had ever been to and that she would never see another dentist besides him. It sounded too good to be true and I should have listened to my instincts.

As I walked into the waiting room, already glistening with beads of sweat that were multiplying with each step, I knew something didn’t feel right. There wasn’t a receptionist at the front desk and there were no other patients in the waiting room. The actual dentist came out of a back room and checked me in and I felt like I was in an abandoned house. After filling out the paperwork, he escorted me to his exam room and sat me down.

I tried to explain about my fears to him when he turned and walked out of the room – As I was still talking to him! He wasn’t listening to a thing I was saying. Then a random dental assistant showed up out of nowhere and put the TV on above me. I thought that was really considerate of her to think I might like to watch something to distract me until she took the remote and started strolling through the channels to find her Telenovella. As I was sitting there being ignored I started to get more and more anxious. Did you ever see a woman eight hours into labor covered with sweat and tears and dead tired and beat down from the physical and mental exhaustion? That’s exactly what I looked like sitting there. You know the wax paper that they put on the dental chair for each patient so it’s sanitary and how noisy it is every time you move? The paper under me in that chair was quiet as a mouse because it was soaking wet with the buckets of seat that were gushing out of me. If someone were to look in that window right then, they would have thought that I just ran through a fire hydrant… 

I asked if we could put Days of our Lives on instead because it might calm me down a little to see what Hope was up to, but no reply. She was looking right through me and then I gave her a knowing look that I thought would say it all. Apparently, it didn’t say anything because she then gave me her own look that said “Bitch, I will stab you right here…” so I let her watch her Telenovella. I sat there wishing that I hadn’t pretended I was hard of hearing in my Spanish class and actually learned something so I could understand what was going on with Hector and his hermano.

The dentist came back into the room and I once again tried to explain my fears and tell them that I am not a good patient, but he was going about his business and still ignoring me. I figured he was in charge, so I asked him about changing the channel to Days of our Lives. I told him that I thought it might calm me down, but he said “No – she watches her show every day.” I almost asked if she had ever heard of a fucking TiVo, but then thought better of it because I was not making any friends in this office and I was pretty sure that I was already off their Christmas card list. I was fidgeting as I always do and they were exchanging looks at each other. He tried to start the exam again, but I would make him stop every few seconds to reassure me that he wouldn’t hurt me. After about the fifth time, he got mad and took off his rubber gloves.

That’s it” he said “I’m done.” Before I could even say one word or express my shock at what was going on, he started in on me. “You need to call your insurance company and find another dentist.” What?” was all I could say and he went on. “It’s not gonna work out for you here.” And just like that he broke up with me. What dentist throws someone out? As I tried to hide my embarrassment and get my jacket and stuff together to get the hell out of there, he then told me that I owed him $5.00 for the copay. “What?” “You owe me $5.00 for the copay.” “Oh, I forgot my wallet, sorry” and I walked out. 

My wife had an appointment with that idiot the following week and I made sure to tell her how I had been treated and how she shouldn’t go to him. She didn’t want to look for another dentist and she had never had a problem at a dentist before so she still went. I told her that under no circumstances was she to give him that $5.00 copay if he brought it up. It wasn’t the money, it was the principle.

Don’t you know that the second that she walked into that office, he asked her if she was going to be a crybaby like her husband and then told her that I left and didn’t pay my copay? AND SHE GAVE HIM THE MONEY! Where is her loyalty? That man treats me bad, throws me out, and then talks shit about me and she gave him the copay!   She said she didn’t want him taking it out on her if she refused to give him the copay, but what would Tammy Wynette have done – Stand by your man and get a new dentist. I see how it is.

My Dental Dilemmas: Part One

There is no beating around the bush here, I’ll just come right out and say it: I am a pussy when it comes to going to the dentist!I really like brushing and flossing and taking care of my teeth. I love that deep burning tingle from swishing the Listerine around in my mouth. What I do not care for is going to the dentist. I get all sorts of anxious and I start to sweat profusely and get nauseous – and that’s just in the car on the way over.

For as long as I can remember, going to the dentist has always been a traumatic experience for me. When I was little, I would get so freaked out in the dentist‘s chair that I would wait until he turned around to get equipment and then I would jump up out of the chair and make a run for it. My bib would be flying around the back of my neck like Superman’s cape and I was off and running down the hall. After making it out of the room more than once, my mother did what any supportive, loving, compassionate, and caring mother would do: She pinned me down to the chair. Her full body weight was on my chest and one of her hands was holding one of my arms down and her other hand would be jammed at my throat, pinning me to the headrest while my Aunt laid across my recklessly flailing legs trying to hold my other hand – effectively immobilizing me. As with any poor, defenseless animal caught in a trap by hunters, I was too terrified to scream and could only lay there in terror – waiting for the torture to end.

Now, any normal dentist would stop right there and say “wait a minute ladies, this might not be a good idea if we actually have to assault him to open his mouth” but not Long Island Dentists in the 80’s. He was just as bad as my mother and aunt because while they were pinning me to the mat, he was prying my mouth open with one of his hands and sticking torture devices in and out of my teeth with the other all the while drilling just for the fun of it. That is when I realized that life really isn’t fair after all. 

I would like to tell you that that was the only time that I have been held down and literally assaulted in a dentist’s office, but if I told you that, it would be a lie. There were many, many other times and it had only made my fears worse. Also, don’t even get me started about how they had to restrain me to get blood from my arm at the doctor’s office. The two of them weren’t enough that time and they needed two additional nurses helping them to try to hold me down. I was thrashing around like The Hulk and they were kicking and punching back because I was determined to get out of there. Each one of us left that office feeling downtrodden and covered in bruises…Sadly enough, if you were to look back through it, my medical history memory bank runs like a Tarantino film. 

As for my current dentist: It took me forever to find someone I am comfortable with but there are still issues.  I still freak out and my wife has to come and stay in the room with me to try to calm me (or apologize for my behavior). He actually makes me take the last possible appointment of the day because he doesn’t have a door on any of his exam rooms (I’m like the 3:00 show) and  apparently, I scared some of the kids and parents in the waiting room last time when I was freaking out during a cleaning, so he bumped me til there is no one around. By the way, he also makes me wear a pink nose cone to get the gas because he says the other colors are too small and won’t fit around my nose. Leave it to a dentist to make an already nervous person self-conscious about their big nose. I just can’t win!