Oh, come on! Nobody smiles when they are having a root canal. That’s crazy. That’s what the endodontist said when he noticed me smiling through the endless metal and rubber paraphernalia stuck into my wide-open mouth. Of course I was already numbed from my jaw to my right ear, but he was moving along efficiently and skillfully with all those bad-movie tools of his.
“You are crazy,” Dr. C said, with a smile behind his blue surgical mask.
Dr. C is about six feet, six inches tall, is my guess, young and from Utah. You can tell he’s not from the east coast; he has that easy, unforced friendliness of a westerner.
Please do not misunderstand. The night before I was anxious as a cow in the slaughter slot thinking about the procedure. I’ve had one root canal with a different endodontist and that was no picnic at the beach, I can tell you.
This was completely different. Not only was Dr. C really good at his job, but, also, I was different. I lay flat back in the chair thinking about my younger brother who continues to fight cancer, thinking about all the truly nasty things that have been done to him in order to save his life.
I was thinking, too, about my friend whom I would be visiting in the afternoon. His body carries physical pain in his joints as consistently as I carry my pocketbook. Only he can’t put it down. I was praying that I would be able to relieve his suffering even the littlest bit; I was talking to God and talking to my friend in my mind while Dr. C did his probing and drilling and cleansing.
And suddenly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude that this dodgy tooth of mine could be fixed: not moderated, not medicated and managed, but fixed. Compared to what these two men are going through, having a root canal is a joke.
And so, with my mouth open like a yawning hippopotamus and stuffed with metal props, drills and rubber protectors, I smiled.
Welcome this week to readers from Singapore, Serbia, Thailand, Jordan, Macau and Taiwan. Thank you for reading Life Opening Up. I am wondering how all of you from other countries discover this blog? Through a friend? Through the topic labels? I would very much like to hear from you. However you discover it, I am so happy that you find time to read it.
To those of you in Ukraine, we pray for you still, for a stable, independent government. We pray for an end to the killing in Syria and Palestine and Israel and we pray for all the families of those who were senselessly killed in the blasting of Malaysian Airlines MH17.
Written by Cecily Stranahan