I am a world class wimp. Sometimes I imagine myself in war-torn countries, and it does not end well for me. You see, I have a tendency to faint. When I was in high school, we had to prick our fingers in biology class to test our blood type. This was me.
And this was me on the stairs of the health clinic after getting a tetanus shot.
So I always knew med school was not an option. I have accepted this. I spend as little time as possible in the ER and generally do okay. However, occasionally, I find myself at the worst of all possible places, the dentist.
Recently, I had this really awesome procedure done called “gum grafting.” Basically, they slice off the roof of your mouth with an exacto knife and sew it to your gums. When I told my husband I was going to have this procedure done, he was really concerned because he knows about my condition (of being a world class wimp.) He tried to convince me to ask the dental surgeon to drug me, but I refused, because I am going through this phase where I try to pretend that I am tougher than I actually am.
I realized my mistake as I was sitting in the execution chair, and Dr. Zoidberg pulled out a four inch needle. I felt my eyes begin to roll back to where the mealy moths hang out, all fuzzy and fluttering, mothy static turning to black. Focus. Focus! FOCUS!! Ah, there he is, Dr. Zoidberg.
Having momentarily eluded the mealy moths, my mind began to race.
“What is he doing?! Why aren’t they telling me what they are going to do to me? They should be giving me a step-by-step of the procedure!”
Then, I thought about that what that might actually entail. NO! No, they should not. Chopping off a body part and sewing it onto a totally different part of your body sounds natural and necessary and like something I definitely do NOT need to hear about. I thought, “This is the worst thing anyone could be doing to me.” Then, I told myself I was overreacting and tried to think of worse things that could be happening to me.
“The Game of Thrones! A lot of REALLY bad things happen to people in the Game of Thrones.”
HOWEVER, I always fast forward through all the torture scenes in that show for a reason. I was able to conjure up exactly one image of Greyjoy in the dungeon before…mealy moth… Focus. Focus. FOCUS!!
“Yeah, I guess thinking of worse things is a mistake. I should be thinking of ENTIRELY different things. Come on, tell yourself a story. You know stories.”
The problem with this strategy was that my panicked brain had moved into that place you go right before you die where your whole life is truncated into a handful of specially chosen images. I told myself a lot of stories, which consisted of about two images each. Two minutes later, I was right back where I started. Since this was a two hour procedure, I had to do better. I had to do a lot better.
For some bizarre reason, in my search for happier thoughts, I seized on the first dance at my wedding. We had hired a couple of Russian dance instructors to choreograph it. It involved a lot of spinning and dipping, which was actually kind of fitting given my situation. I could hear the music, but I couldn’t remember the words. I could feel the rhythm, but I couldn’t remember the steps. But I could remember that I couldn’t remember, and this was PERFECT. I spent the rest of the surgery trying to remember.
Step, step, shuffle, dip.
Some folks go to Hawaii. Some folks go to Vegas.
What is good enough for some folks, ain’t good enough for us.
Step, step, shuffle dip.
There was no heart-shaped bed in our honeymoon suite.
We slept side by side in two reclined bucket seats.
It weren’t the Hyatt or the Holiday Inn.
We had a 7a.m. check out after a 4a.m. check-in.
With one last stitch, the procedure was over as soon as it had begun.
However, if you are a world class wimp, you know that leaving a medical facility can be as dangerous as going to one. Dr. Zoidberg gave me a list of post-operation instructions. Why they give you these things after surgery and not before is beyond me. He asked me if I understood. I stared back at him with cold, beady eyes and did not move a muscle.
Good patients will nod and might even attempt to answer, despite having recently acquired a head and tongue resembling a manatee. However, I am not a good patient. In fact, I eat nothing but protein shakes and do not speak to anyone at all for at least three days after a dental procedure.
I had the good sense to text my husband in the elevator to ask him if he would meet me at the World Trade Center Path station. I had ridden my bike to the Path station in New Jersey, and I had serious doubts about my abilities to ride home without impaling myself on a dumpster. I had seen this happen to friends, so I knew the consequences.
I was doing mostly okay in the elevator, but the moment I stepped out into the street, my teeth began to chatter violently. This was terrifying because I was deathly afraid that I was going to bust open a suture and start bleeding everywhere. I pressed my teeth together to try to stop the chattering. This just created a more jarring experience, so I let my mouth gape open and just tried to slow everything down.
I was moving along the sidewalk like a baby sloth with a manatee head, which was problematic enough on its own. The Path station was only a couple of blocks away, but I was nearly certain I was never going to get there. To further complicate matters, I was in the heart of downtown Manhattan during rush hour. To fully understand how absurd this was you need to imagine me moving like a baby sloth with a manatee head and everyone else moving like cracked out road runners.
Every now and then one of the cracked out road runners would notice that there was something seriously wrong with that baby sloth, namely that it had a manatee head, and also that it looked like it might die at any moment.
Somehow, I made it back to the Path station, where my husband was quite HAPPY to find me struck mute. He took this golden opportunity to tell me ALL about recalibrating credit default swap survival curves.