Monday, February 02, 2009

Trippy, trippy...

Sitting in the dentist's chair this morning. 
And then, all of a sudden, I was floating.  Tripping?  Crazy!
Weird... so surreal, like, here I am in this dentist's office, everybody's talking, EZ-Rock still on the radio but I don't care, la di da, I could be anybody, anywhere, and nothing is happening to me.
 
At first, he said "we" were only removing the bottom wisdom tooth, which was slightly loose anyway (I put "we" in quotes because I prefer to sit back and let him handle the actual hands-on dentistry), but I said I thought he had wanted to remove the top one, too, for some reason.  Then, he double-checked and I was right - drat!  And also that there were two fillings on the bottom left that he wanted to do before he started the extractions.
 
The fillings were no big deal, and when it came time for the upper local anesthesia (he did the bottom local first because of the fillings), he got out the little mini-nose-mask for the nitrous oxide.  I had nitrous oxide once before (for an early miscarriage that needed a d&c) and it did absolutely nothing, so I was dreading it this time.  Sure enough, after he strapped it on and turned on the gas, nothing, nothing, nothing.
 
Then, the universe opened up and let me in.
It was the exact same feeling I had when I woke up in bed with an oxygen mask after passing out when I had Gavriel Zev.
Same feeling when I had the local for my belly-button surgery... maybe it was also nitrous oxide that time; I have no idea!
 
The most relaxed and happy I have been in a very, VERY long time.
 
Anyway, it was nice, nice, nice.
For one second, I felt like Eli, my schizophrenic brother, must feel all the time - a million voices jammering all at once, a million insights, a million thoughts, all in parallel, all making complete sense.  It is a very good thing that my mother was so terrifically occupied with dental instruments and gauze or I'm sure I would have attempted to share all these tremendous thoughts.
 
At which point, through the haze and fuzz and twinkling lights, the dentist said he thought maybe the nitrous was maybe having a bit of an effect.  Yup, understatement for sure.
 
I had to keep breathing through my nose, which is hard for me at the best of times, and with my mouth wide open, quite a challenge.  Every time I got too relaxed, I'd start breathing through my mouth (with a little embarrassing snore - ugh), and then remind myself to breath through my tiny button nose and not the great big gawpy opening beneath it.
 
The first tooth came out relatively quickly... for the second one, there was a bit of high-pitched activity around me (my eyes were closed, I was happily semi-dozing through it...!) and it felt like the dentist was actually climbing into my mouth at one point.  Bit of wrenching around and then wiggling, and then not an actual moment when it was done, but just a sense that the tone of the activity had changed and it was less frenetic.
 
Towards the end, when he was stitching up the gaps and I realized they'd be taking away the nose-mask soon, I started taking extra-deep breaths; I admit, I wasn't in pain or suffering or anything... just wanted a little extra high "for the road."  Well, after that he made me lie there for the longest time breathing pure oxygen.  I asked him if he could take the mask off, because by that point, it was digging into my lip, but he said they needed to leave it on  to wash the nitrous out of my system.  Which it did... no high for the road, which is probably a good thing, because I probably would have keeled over. 
 
But still sad to feel it leave my system.
As my head cleared, I thought about that feeling of floaty bliss and tranquility, and how I'd experienced the same thing when I passed out from blood loss after having the baby.
 
And then I thought, maybe nobody dies in pain.  Maybe at the point your body has had enough, you pass out and the pleasure kicks in - your brain, or Hashem or God, if you're theistically minded, protects you from the very worst that it could possibly get.
 
That reassured me.  I know my father was pretty snowed with morphine when he died, but I guess I have thinking more than usual about death in general and other ways of dying that are not so neat and organized (not that his death was neat, medically, with things oozing and bleeding and bandages and bedsores), away from your own bedroom at home... I don't know, exactly; I said already, I was still pretty drugged...
 
Just that when you go, no matter how painful it may be, maybe it doesn't hurt all the way up until the end.  Maybe the pain dissolves so you can, always, die in peace.
A little more morbid than my usual thoughts, maybe.  But to me, it was a good moment; there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
 
Hey, the title said "trippy,"  not "chirpy," right?  ;-)

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