Luke Melia


May 25, 2002

5/25/02, 12:36 am

Have you ever had a day you wished you could just start over? Today was one of those.

I made a dentist appointment a couple of week ago because one of my teeth has been sensitive to temperature lately. On occasion, it hurts like, well, like getting a cavity filled. This morning was the appointment.

I hopped the train downtown and got there early. Nice place. Friendly vibe. I filled out the paperwork and tried to relax. For most of my life, I’ve had problems with medical situations. I wrote about it a few months back in the context of my foot injury.

I thought I was doing OK when, 6 x-rays into 16, I started feeling woozy. I asked the hygienist to wait for a moment and tried to pull myself together. I remember asking her to take the heavy lead apron from me and then I lost consciousness. It’s very disorienting coming back to the world after a seizure. It takes a moment to realize where you are, why you’re there and piece together what must have happened.

The staff there was very kind, concerned about me and asking questions. One dentist, the only male doctor there I think, described it as “white coat syndrome,” not uncommon in 20-30-year-old men, who don’t admit to their doctor (or themselves I’d guess) that they’re uncomfortable or scared, so their body takes responsibility for the mind’s failing and throws an off switch.

It’s nice to know that other people have that experience, but that doesn’t really fit for me. This has happened for my whole life, from before I knew enough to be scared and past when I knew too much to be scared.

The sensation is like this: chemical, the steadily progressing coursing of something through my body, though my mind. I feel disconnected to the biology, but scared by it because I know it can take me out. I try to gain control of it, and either my body wins or my mind wins. This morning, my body won.

After I recovered and talked things through with the dentist, they offered to continue the x-rays and exam. I wanted to take them up on it. I really did. I’m a big believer in getting back on the horse after you fall off.

But I didn’t have the heart this morning. Instead I walked out, thanking my dentist and putting her questions for my doctor to answer in my bag. I got in the back of the first cab I saw and asked the cabbie to take me home.

I curled up in bed, safe, sad and tired and went back to sleep.

I started the day over a few hours later.

It went a lot better the second time around.

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