Friday, August 28, 2009

Comfortably Numb

"You're a good person to ask about this," said my dentist, as he held the arm's-length needle of Novacaine in mid-air.

"Uh ... " I replied, eyeing the needle.

"No, you really are," he insisted.

Seems that Dr. B. met with someone selling dental supplies recently, and apparently, there is a shot that a patient could receive that would pretty much reduce the duration of Novacaine, post-dental procedure. So you'd still have your Novacaine fix during your root canal (as was the case for yours truly this morning), but you would have the option to have another shot that would eliminate the Novacaine aftermath. No more puffy cheek feeling, no more drooling and slurring one's words, no more mistakenly chomping down on one's tongue or lips. Avoiding this would cost $20.

"Sign me up," I answered.

And then I thought about it a little more. (Believe you me, I had ample time to do so, given the fact that a tooth of mine was in the very capable hands of Dr. B. for a total of two hours this morning.)

This probably makes me sound like a junkie, but Novacaine and I are pretty good buds. And that's because Dr. B. whips up a special concoction for me, a dosage known as "The 3%," which wears off in half the time as your normal, garden-variety elixir of numb. I'm usually back to normal in an hour or so, as opposed to the four hours it takes me with the regular dosage.

I get The 3% because I can't stand the sensation of the prolonged after-effects. I want it over, done with. I want to resume my life, go out in public, without appearing like someone who just had dental work.

(Today, however, was a different story. For the first time in the 15 years I've been his patient, I asked Dr. B. for the maximum amount of Novacaine that he could legally give me. Agony doesn't quite describe the pain I was in.)

As drills whirred and shrilled, and as I continued to enjoy being comfortably numb, I thought about what if there was an after-Novacaine shot to shorten life's jagged edges. If there was something legal that could shorten the duration of, say, the crap one has to go through in life.

Your spouse files for divorce - wham! Novacaine shot that fast-forwards you to a day when you can be civil to one another.

Your kid gets an autism diagnosis? One Novacaine shot coming up, catapulting you right through the multitude of therapies, the sleepless nights of self-doubt, the anger and rage, passing GO right onto the imagined nirvana of Acceptance.

Loved one dies? Got yer Novacaine shot right here, rocketing you through the five stages of grief to the day when you can live again.

How many of us would take the shot in these cases? I'm betting a lot of us, probably myself included. We don't want to go through this shit. Save the lessons learned that sometimes come from such trials and travails. Or how many of us would choose to keep the $20, to forego the shot, to accept whatever comes our way, crap and all?

(Such deep thoughts while under the spell of Novacaine for two hours, huh? You know you're a blogger when you're mentally composing that day's blog post mid-root canal.)

We'd miss out on a lot by choosing to numb the heartache, I think. It might be tempting to do so, but maybe there's something to be said for not taking the easy way out. To meet head-on what comes our way. To let the process unfold in the way that it is meant to, and to allow it to have the effect on us that is intended.


Susan said...

You make such good points, Melissa! At first glance, and maybe even at second glance, my response is, "heck yeah I'd take the shot to skip on past the extended pain and hardship." But you go further and remind us that there is value in suffering through the hard stuff; it makes us who we are, it's how we learn, it's how we become who we are. So, for just a brief moment, I was excited by the possibility. Guess I'll just endure life like everyone else. Maybe I'll stop and remind myself more often that it is all good, all valuable, all helpful in making me the person who I am.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Glad you saw what I was trying to convey in this post, Susan. I was still a little comfortably numb while writing it, so I'm glad it came through somewhat coherently! :)