Sunday, October 11, 2009

Combatting the Imfamous What if? Monster

As promised last Monday, I will give you a brief rundown on how my adventure at the dentist went.
As you also know, I sheered off my left top molar, and thankfully there was enough left of it that the dentist didn’t have to do any spelunking to get the whole thing out.
But first, the prologue.

So, I sheered off a tooth. And my regular dentist was on vacation. Besides, I was flat broke until the 3rd so the dental follies had to wait until after the 3rd so I could get the damned thing yanked.

I had no idea where to go, so I got online and googled gentle (and I mean gentle) dentists in my area.

I’m a big weenie when it comes to pain. I don’t like it. I don’t want it. And it certainly doesn’t put you any closer to the path to enlightenment. Hence, my displeasure with aestheticism. But that’s another story.

Let us forge on. We must, after all, find the elusive and deadly what if? Monster and conquer him.

I couldn’t decide which dentist to go to. I called a list full and all of them charged pretty much the same price. You know what I mean. And arm, a leg, an ovary or testicle if you’re a guy.

So at this point I started dialoguing with Chenrezig, and He led me to one dentist that not only said was gentle, but had reviews. Good reviews. He is not only gentle, but funny.

Now that sounds like my kind of dentist!

I called. Sure enough he had an opening for the 5th. I scheduled. And so I waited.

I can’t say the pain was excruciating. It wasn’t. It was that low voltage Chinese water torture type of pain. More like irritating background noise. You know. Like when you’re working in your office and the florescent light above your head starts to go. It’ll flicker a bit and then the ballast will emit a high pitched whine, making it feel like you’re being covered in itching powder.

Um yeah. That kind of pain. The kind of pain that makes you turn into Cujo and you start mauling your co-workers.

So by the 4th, I was looking at JW’s pair of pliers and thinking…

By now you’re thinking, is there a point to this or am I mentally jerking off?
No kavetch. There’s Dharma in here. I used it to combat the dreaded what if? Monster. But since I’m such a pain weenie, I had to enlist some help. First, from JW, and then from Lama.

We’ve talked about what if? Questions before. Those useless questions that are tagged by worry, or nonsensical thoughts…you see a lot of the aforementioned at the Yahoo answers forum. Nonsensical questions shot back and forth between the eternalists and nihilists (Buddha had a LOT to say about those guys) because their questions are like…what if God was a giant pink unicorn, would you worship him? What if you died and found yourself in hell would you believe in Jesus then?

You know, nonsensical questions of that nature.

Declutter your mind quickly and effectively of all those what if? Questions. You’ll be glad you did. I’m still working on mine, as you can tell.

On the morning of my great adventure with Dr. G. I was filled with what if? Questions. They start easily enough. What if I have pain? Well, duh, someone is going to yank a tooth out of your head. Of course it’s gonna hurt. I used the techniques of letting go to defeat these, but like rabbits the what if? Questions kept multiplying, until I was in full blown panic mode, ready to run down the street screaming.

The questions went from simple insidious little questions to huge monstrous fears. What if the dentist breaks off the tooth? What if he has to do surgery? What if he breaks my jaw? What if he gives me gas and I have an asthma attack in the chair and die?

What if? What if? What if?

So, that’s when I called Lama Jigme, and he kindly walked me through portions of the 3 Cauldron practice.

Afterwards, I was a much calmer junior bird woman.

By the time I got to the dentist office, however, I had a death grip on JW’s hand. The what if? Monster was back, but he wasn’t nearly as big as before. And I continued to ask sutric questions as well as worked through the last half of the cauldron practice right up until I got into the chair.

When the time came to sit in the chair, I opened up a dialogue with Chenrezig. When the assistant came and did the digital scan of my mouth, I was less afraid. By the time the Dr. G came in, I felt much calmer. The chair was actually quite comfortable. The Novocain was bliss, and Dr. G had me laughing so hard I didn’t need gas.

And the procedure?

No pain. Lots of pressure, but no pain. And I didn’t know when the tooth came out. I was actually surprised when he told me it was over.

And now the tooth is gone, the pain is minimal. I didn’t even need anything tonight. I’m eating regular food again and tomorrow I can resume my workouts.

The what if monster was nothing more than a shadow of my own instinctive fears. Once I saw that there was nothing to be afraid of, the fear vanished. And so did the what if? monster.

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