Root Canal…say what?


My anxiety level has already been fluctuating with recent changes in my life.  For about six months now, and probably longer, every day has seemed to bring some new change.  In my life the earliest changes seemed to be based around negative events occurring around me.  I’m on the downside of that hill now, but the plan for addressing those changes has turned out to be nothing I expected- even though it’s good.  Good or bad the anxiety in my body is in a fury like a host of gnats swarming around on a hot summer night.

I start to have some tooth pain a few days ago.  I’m thinking it’s possibly something stuck in my tooth and I floss to no avail.  Hot beverages are killing me.  It’s getting worse.  After the third day, when no amount of Aleeve is effective, I decide it’s time for a visit to the dentist.  Long story short, the dentist sends me to a root canal specialist…WHAT?  Whoa, the anxiety is getting good and primed now.

I visit the specialist the same day and after an initial X-Ray I’m told they will numb me up and the procedure will take about an hour.  Another…WHAT?  I think the good side of this is that I had no time to think about what was actually going to happen.  I asked the doctor if I should be scared right now.  Of course he said no.

I had been reading about what a root canal was while I was in the waiting room.  I was armed with just enough information to determine I was in a bad spot and should be running completely in the opposite direction.   Out come the needles to numb my gum.  Hmmmm, that really didn’t hurt at all.  The numbing proceeds and the assistant tells me about this device he needs to put over my mouth.  He likens it to a drop cloth that will collect debris so that the the tooth stays dry in the procedure.  Putting the device on was actually the worst part.

It didn’t hurt at all, but having this latex cloth lay over my mouth, even though I could breath, sent my heart rate sky rocketing.  Now I was nervous.  I knew I could still breath.  I was breathing.  It was obvious I was getting oxygen, but my mind took over and told me I should start to panic. 

As I was numbing I sat up in the chair and I told the assistant I couldn’t swallow.  I was becoming afraid.  Half the fear was that I wasn’t going to be able to handle the procedure and the other half was that I knew I had to handle the procedure.  The anxiety was building.

The assistant was talking me through how to swallow and talking to me in a very calm tone of voice.  And then I did the only thing I knew that could help me at that moment.  I started to pray the Lord’s Prayer.  To some that may sound ridiculous, but in that moment I felt I had a direct line to God and I needed His 911 assistance immediately.

The doctor came in and started the procedure.  I kept my eyes closed and I rapidly started, Our Father who art in heaven….I got the end really quick.  I needed to say it again.  This time a little more slowly.  And, again.  Slower.   And one last time for good measure- the peace started coming.  I was going to make it through the procedure.  

It was long and annoying but it was not painful.  Even when everything wore off that desensitized my mouth it was o.k.  I expected much worse.  

After I got through my prayers I started wondering what people do who don’t have a relationship with God.  I didn’t mean to use the Lord’s Prayer as some sort of rabbit’s foot; I knew that God was there with me and would be my rock no matter what was going to come.  There is definitely merit to saying some sort of meditative verse when you are in panic mode.  However, nothing can be as serene as speaking to the Creator of heaven and earth and all the beauty and wonder that surrounds us.  That Guy is powerful!  I was in relationship with the most awe-some presence the world will ever know.  There was a peace that passed over my human understanding.

I was definitely going into panic mode when I heard the words, root canal.  It was worse when I had that drop cloth laying over my mouth.  Just as my mind was working me up for fight or flight (and believe me flight was my priority) I was combatting those feelings with faith.  It was all I had at that moment.  It was going to be faith or fear.

What does someone do who can’t run to God in their time of need?  I can’t imagine.  I have always felt that anxiety was really the devil just trying to push his way into my life.  He has succeeded from time to time.   But I don’t want the devil to win.  God is the super-hero and I want him to be in control.

Saying the Lord’s Prayer didn’t change my circumstance.  It eased my mind and quieted the unrealistic feelings I was building.  I guess there are other means to accomplish that, but why?  Why not go to the source?  Why not talk to the power responsible for every beautiful flower that grows on this earth, who has tailored the blades of grass to be the plush carpet our children can run on in the summer, to the one who put people in place to invent chocolate, good wine and cheese? 

I don’t know about you, but when there is a person standing over my body with a super sonic rotating tool in his hand about the drill in my mouth I want the Best.  He didn’t take away my trouble, but He brought me through it.

The bad news?  I have to go back again to get the job finished.  Maybe this time I’ll say the Lord’s Prayer twice out of fear and twice out of joy of knowing my God is an awesome God.  Maybe I’ll be in a place where I can pray with thanksgiving.

Matthew 6:9

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


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