Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Bad Diagnosis Can Save Your Whole Day

Even I can't tolerate my own gloom, so here's a palate cleanser from the last tough post.

The dental assistant sitting behind me wants to chat but his efforts are so heavy they make me feel even more relaxed and leaden in this soft reclined chair with the views of the Evanston library.

"When's spring coming?"

I manage a giggle. "Oh, I don't know."

"It's supposed to be warmer tomorrow. Let's hope we can get some sun."

"Hmm." My eyes are closing. I'm not drugged, not yet at least, I'm just letting go in this comfortable place, creepy medicinal smells notwithstanding, because I have no choice, do I?

A little harmless emergency like a tooth turned too sore to ignore stops all my plans and usual worries in their tracks and replaces them with this - this way place, this suspension, this transition between the everyday and the new normal, like this day between winter and real spring, when the air is cool and wet and the buds are just starting to show.

I like this time, I don't say to the technician. I'm too relaxed, or tired, or perhaps too resigned, to disagree. I'm in no hurry to push the riot of loud tulip colors and the clouds of lilac smell; I'm in no hurry for Dr. Fischl's diagnosis. Right now, in this chair, magazine left behind in the waiting room, I am fine.

"Maybe when it warms up, we'll see some peregrine falcon eggs hatching."

He's talking about the library across the street, I realize.

"Where are they," I muster.

"On the second column, at the very top." I can't see anything through the tree branches, still bare as whips.

"Cool," I say, which is all I can give the poor guy. My dentist, on the other hand, gets a big "Hi, Dr. Paul!" because he showed me he knows the value of silence that one time when I nearly fainted and all I needed was a cold compress on my forehead and some horizontal time and quiet.

Five gentle minutes later, I'm out the door with the address of the root canal specialist and a warning not to delay.

I cross the wet street at a trot, hurrying again toward my car and my To Do list, feeling around for sensation, like my tongue has been working the tender gum the last few days. I find nothing but a light excitement, even as I register that I'll be getting anxious later. It is root canal, after all, whose jokes and awful reputation precedes the thing itself. I don't even know what it is! I'll go home after the grocery store and the kids' resale shop and check out the web, ("probably the most maligned of all dental procedures," one North Caroline dentist's site reassures me,) but for now, the wind rushes across my face, cool but not too cool, it's an emergency but not too much of one, I've got new plans and arrangements to make and I am fine.

No comments: