Monday afternoon I found myself in most unfavorite place in the whole wide world, the dentist chair. I HATE going to the dentist. I do. It's one place that still scares me. The mere thought of the dentist office causes me to break out in a cold sweat. I can feel my heart rate increase. My anxiety levels rip through the roof. And the little kid who endured so many painful dental procedures comes out, kicking and screaming, fighting all the way to the chair.
But late Sunday night, early Monday morning, I woke up to unbelievable pain radiating from my tooth. I was up for hours. Nothing helped. There was no relief. Just pain. Lots of pain. And that meant it was time to go.
The last time I went to the dentist was under simular circumstances. Pain. Fear. Pain. Anxiety. Pain. the x-ray revealed the problem and the problem was removed. (With a lot of novicane mind you.) But it was also revealed that there was a little cavity starting in one of my other molars. I was told...a little filling and we can get that taken care of for you. (RIGHT. I've never had a dental procedure that required only a little filling...)
Anyway, (here comes the excuses) at the time we did not have dental insurance. And being the stubborn male with the last name of Higham, (the spiritual gift of being stubborn runs strong in my family) no pain meant no problem. So there was no follow up visit. what I didn't realize was, that visit was 2 years ago. Oops. But now the problem that only needed a little filling has blossomed to a full on root canal. Yeah, me!
As I was sitting in the chair, pondering why I was so fearful of the dentist and why I always wait till the pain is too much to bare, I began to think about how this is so much like how we live our lives. Because we fear the hurt and pain that we might possibly face, we wait and we wait and we wait until the problem is so big we can't avoid it any more.
Think about it. How many times have you found yourself in a situation that you need to take care of, but the fear and anxiety of not knowing what would happen left you putting off the issue. I knew I had a cavity. And I knew I had to get it fixed. In fact, in getting it fixed, I would have avoided all further complications. But the fear of pain in getting a "little filling" kept me from dealing with the problem. Crazy right? But that's what we do. We worry about the pain that we might deal with in the resolution process, and so we push it off. We ignore it, hide it, avoid it, even deny it, with the foolish hope that by doing all of those things the problem itself might just go away. But it doesn't. It just gets worse.
And as I found out, what might have been a few short minutes of pain has now become an hour and a half procedure that will definitely bring me significantly more pain. (Not to mention the pain that keeps me from sleep.)
As I think about all of this, I realize this is more than just a lesson in dental health, this is a lesson for life. While the work of correcting or dealing with a little problem might bring a little pain, it's nothing like the pain that comes from avoiding the issue. Don't allow fear to keep you from doing what is right.
I think it might be time to finally get over my fear of the dentist chair and begin doing the little things that are right and necessary.
Oh, by the way, the root canal will happen Monday, September 21st, at 3:45. I am already anticipating the anxiety and stress on that day to be through the roof. So say a prayer for me.
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