I woke up early that fateful morning, not too anxious, not too nervous. It was on my calendar in bold red letters: ROOT CANAL DAY. For some reason, I was actually looking forward to having the procedure done. I had looked it up on the Internet and it seemed like a fairly simple operation. Besides, I had spent a few weeks when my dentist was on holidays worrying about whether or not I had to get off my blood thinner medication and worrying which would be worse: getting a root canal done or having a blood clot travel to my brain and rendering my teeth useless anyway? To my relief, when my dentist came back she told me I could have my root canal done without having to stop my warfarin. So I was on cloud 9 and was actually looking forward to the procedure. Silly person that I am.
I got to the office a few minutes early, a smile on my face. The dental assistant called my name and I was thankful to finally get the procedure started. It is strange how sitting waiting for a dental procedure is more nerve-wrecking than the actual procedure. About 3/4 of the way through my root canal, I suddenly realized I had to pee so bad I thought I was going to explode. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a strong and overwhelming urge to relieve myself. I was very near letting it all go right there in the dentist chair in front of the dentist and her female assistant.
For various reasons I had drank a ton of water this morning before leaving to have the procedure done. I was running late so I did not have a chance to hit a restroom before going in the doctor's office – HUGE mistake.
Anyway, so there I was, laying on the dental chair tilted so far back that I'm close to sliding off the chair head first – if I did have an “accident” all the urine would have traveled from under my pants across my chest all the way up to my neck and down my armpits. Man, wouldn’t that be something to behold?? At the time of crisis I had this mammoth dental contraption in my mouth that spreads the mouth open beyond anything that is naturally possible. There was this large, bright red rubber sheeting in there that was partially hanging out my mouth that is suppose to separate one part of the mouth from the other and helps in keeping the mouth stretched open. I don't know how they were able to stuff all that hardware and plastic into one tight little compartment. Right now I don't know what hurts the most, my gutted, root-canal’d tooth or my mouth being stretched so far open you could have driven an ice rink’s Zomboni through it.
So, at about halfway through all the relentless drilling I begin to feel the pressure build in my bladder -- and it’s growing exponentially by the second. It got so bad I swear the office ceiling had a yellow tint to it. I held off as long as I could, then I started acting like a 3 year-old trying to not think about my need to pee; I was crossing my legs and stiffening my body to hold it all in. I even put my hands under the apron that was on top of me and loosened my belt buckle a few notches to try and relieve some pressure. What didn’t help at all was the fact the apron that was on top of me was the same lead-filled apron they used to take x-rays of the tooth in the beginning. It weighed a ton and was pressing down on my bladder.
Finally, at about breaking point, I raised my hand in the air to get the dentist’s attention (I couldn’t talk with all that stuff in my mouth). First thing she says is, “do you need to go to the restroom?” and I give her a big thumbs up. After moving stuff out of the way, she tells me the only restroom is out in the hallway beyond the waiting room. Without a care, I immediately jump off the dentist chair and fly out of the procedure area and across a very, very large waiting room area that has about 15-20 people in it -- all of them sitting there straining their heads and gawking as I run past them. I run through the hallway and into the restroom and slam the door behind me where it takes me a good 5 minutes to drain my bladder. Relief at last!
While washing my hands I take a peak at myself in the mirror over the sink and was very startled by what I saw. I’ll tell you, I looked like Frankenstein’s mother. My mouth was wide open at an odd angle, there were various pieces of metal and black plastic components protruding out from the orifice and underneath it all there was this blood-red rubber thing, with a hole in it, smashed into my mouth stretching my face into various contorted positions with some of the red rubber stuff hanging down and out and over my mouth and well over my chin – it looked like a clumpy mass of blood just hanging there. I looked absolutely hideous and ghastly! I looked like I was having open heart surgery though my mouth.
Now came the hard part, how do I make it all the way back to the dentist’s chair without a whole bunch of people in the waiting room wondering what was going on that caused me to run out of the dentist’s office so quickly. The door to the hallway is on one side of the waiting room and the door to the procedure area is on the opposite side of the room – I have to cross this large room full of people to get to where I needed to be. After those people had gotten a quick glimpse of what I looked like -- and running like a bloody bat out of Hell to the restroom -- I have no doubt there were many in the waiting area that were now having second thoughts about getting their own dental procedure done today. I didn’t know what to do, so I just decided to suck it up and march back in there as if nothing happened. So I did.
When I opened the door to the waiting room every living person’s head in the room spun around to look at me. All of a sudden the notion that I could just casually walk back through this large waiting room, as if nothing happened, was now just a fantasy pipe dream. Some people just flat-out stared with puzzled expressions; others were wide-eyed with their mouths slightly gaped open, and some of the children in the room looked very startled and concerned and leaned into their parent. I noticed that one small little girl had even pee-ed on the floor. I felt their eyes burning holes in my back as I passed by them, overhearing a small boy tell his Mom ‘Mommy, please, I promise I will floss from now on, can we please go home now?’
It seemed like it took a million years to cross the room but I did it and got back into the dentist’s chair to let her continue to do her thing. The procedure was almost done and I was breathing a sigh of relief – I would soon be free of all the gunk in my mouth, that is, until I heard the dentist tell her assistant to get the orthodontist and to make sure HE brought his ‘squirter’ with him. Well I totally lost it – the gauze and whatever else was in my mouth flew across the room as I burst out laughing, picturing this guy walking in the room with his ‘squirter’ and knew that no matter what, I was not going to wait to find out what it was as I lay there defenseless. Thankfully the dental assistant also started laughing and I knew I was not the only one with a sick sense of humor. The dentist somehow managed to keep her composure as she explained what this ‘squirter’ was (a new machine that would squirt water into my mouth to ensure that there were no hidden open areas, and I calmed down and let her finish. When the orthodontist came in, I smiled brightly at him, thoughts of his squirter not sounding so bad, especially since he was not all that bad looking. When all was finished, I said nothing about the pee break nor about the ‘squirter’ to the dentist nor did she mention it to me. The only thing she did was suggest I take the door that led to the back parking lot. And I did exactly that.
To this day, I still wonder how many people in that dental office today will make me a topic of conversation at the office cooler or at the dinner table tonight? Regardless, when I return to get any dental work done, I will be making a pit stop to the washroom before I check in with the receptionist.