This Bites


Bright and early this morning I’m getting my first, dreaded root canal on a decaying tooth, and as I look at my black & white dental x-ray in the digital light box, I imagine what my internal organs must look like. My tooth is an enamel coated, cross section picture of death & disease. What’s worse is that I have tried to cure my dead tooth for forty shameful mornings and forty painful evenings, and I forget to factor in the past decades of careless health habits that on most days I’m still unwilling to accept or change. I don’t see animals brushing their teeth or lined up for dental visits. Despite the statistically significant research on diet & nutrition’s impact on health, specifically high fructose corn syrup, our culture is killing us.  How are we going to heal that super-sized, spiraling food chain mess? Have you seen the documentary film, King Corn? King Corn is a feature documentary from Independent Lens about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.

In truth, I have taken only half measures to recover part of my being, putting my hope in my own two healing hands, alternative medicine, *all* of Isaiah 58 (if-if-then; if-if-then), and preventative health care education piled higher and deeper.  I can now admit that I’ve been in the wrong profession, directed in part by childhood ideas that persisted to the day my four wisdom teeth were extracted. The dynamic nursing profession fits my personality, but nurses are not going to save the world any day soon. Nope. Artists! Artists are going to save the world.  Oh, where is that scripture?

What’s really tough is that I’m a patient with legitimate, physical pain, sitting in Dr. David Fagundes very comfortable dental/medical chair, opening my mouth for a professional stranger, which is very much like opening up about your emotional pain in psychotherapy.  “What’s your pain level on a scale of 1-10?” is our fifth vital sign behind temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.  “A nine.  A nine, I talk to myself, because 10 is reserved for birthing grief, a broken femur, third degree burns, or an incurable cancer eating you alive. Ten is reserved for a narcotic addict, looking for their next high. Ten is served when new friends move away like a revolving door and the best you have to offer is a chip of your life and to break bread together as you say good-bye. Ten is reserved for when things don’t go your way and you lose. When you lose heart, and when you lose sight, and like ‘the blind man who stood on the road,’ you cry. Have you read, Dark Night of the Soul?  Me either, but I bet this hardcover book bites,” I concluded. “This bites, but the long acting Marcaine® is kicking in to a state of oral, blissful numbness.”

~ §tacy §weeney

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