I usually don't think of dentists. They are not even near the top of the list when I stop to contemplate the wonders of the world. But I came across Dr. Suzy and she seemed to be so nice, so intelligent, so thoughtful that I almost forgot her dreaded profession.
That is why, when the Dental Aide summons me from the waiting room with that cutesy smile, I rise slowly and start taking small steps. As I progress I slowly begin to chant, first softly and then growing in panic and volume, as I approach the dreaded destination.
"I need gas. Lots of gas. Get the gas ready. Nitrous Oxide. A whole lot of gas. Set that sucker at 185%!"
They know me there. They know that I will always offer to reschedule if they are too booked or if some kind of emergency surgery crops up or if they are just too tired. I'll even offer to reschedule just for the sake of rescheduling. They call me by my first name and are friendly, but inside they are thinking, 'Aha! We got him again.'
Why do they call it Laughing Gas? I never laugh. When they put me in that chair, lean it back and turn on the vibrating thing which is a silly attempt at faking a massage chair, the Aide puts a mask over my nose. The doctor stops in to say hi then usually nods to the Aide and always says something like, "79%" and I will respond with 200%. He will then pat me on the shoulder and tell me to relax and that he will be back in a few minutes and I tell him to take his time. Then everyone disappears.
My job then is to get drunk on the gas. I breathe deep over and over sucking that stuff into my system as fast as I can. I want my body saturated. After a couple of minutes I will begin to feel my toes tingle. This is an important step because it means that the gas has gone all the way from my head through the zillion miles of blood canals to my toes. I then know that I will soon feel the tingling crawl down my feet and up my legs then consume my body. I find that I can stop thinking about the dreaded needle. I relax and drift.
One time we went through this whole procedure and I patiently waited for the tingling toes. Nothing tingled. A few minutes later the doctor came in and I immediately became agitated and blurted,
"Stop! Don't do anything. The gas isn't working!"
He smiled and said, "Jerry, we haven't turned it on yet."
There is a set protocol and if it changes it throws everything off.
Gas absorption produces two effects. It takes the edge off and it messes up memory recall. So when the doctor says, "You will feel a little pinch" it still hurts but it doesn't bother me as much. But more importantly I immediately forget that it hurt and think, 'That wasn't so bad'. And it continues throughout the procedure. When the dentist crawls into my mouth with strange invasive tools and gouges and digs and plunders, it is bothersome but immediately replaced with, 'That wasn't so bad'.
In the past year and a half I have had four wisdom teeth pulled. Everyone in the world except me had their wisdom teeth pulled at a young vibrant age. I didn't and I never thought about it until the smiling dentist said, "You need to think about getting those pulled someday". I thought that was an absurd notion and told him that if my precious wisdom teeth had made it this far I figured I was home free. He mention something about they will start hurting at some point and I should consider it before I retired while I had insurance. Then he finished with, "If they start hurting, come on in".
He knew something that I didn't because within three months one of them started bothering me. Then later more started hurting. A whole lot of gas came into play.
It had to be the power of suggestion and I thought that was really sneaky of him.
Now I know Dr. Suzy has a successful dental business. But I can give her some advice to help her business grow even more. She needs an advertising edge.
If I approached two dental offices and one displayed flashing neon lights that said,
'I HAVE GAS. I HAVE LOTS OF GAS',
I know which I would choose. Just a thought, doc.
A serious note for this holiday. Please read Memorial Day.
Entre Nous explains things that need to be explained to us.