You have a lot of time to think when a dentist is drilling your tooth for your very first crown. Thinking is about all you can do. Talking is surely impossible, as every dental implement known to man is crowded into your maw in an exciting game of “Will This Fit Too?” Listening to music is nearly impossible, for the drill is screaming like a banshee inches from your ear. Your hands are tightly entwined, breathing is the slow focused pattern you used last during childbirth, and the dental assistant points out to Sir Drillmaster that “she’s not in pain, I think that is her relaxed face.”
So you sit and think.
You sit and think about how you came to find yourself here in a dentist’s chair. You think about how strong your teeth have been, and how despite your perfect oral hygiene you also have wickedly strong jaw muscles. You think back on your 30 years of flute playing, and how stretched out your neck and jaw muscles must be on the right side, after so many years of playing with your head to the left. You think about the stress you’ve always had, and how it has gradually crescendoed since you became a mother a dozen years ago.
And you think about your strong jaws and stretched neck muscles and incessant stress, and you know the TMJ has won. Playing flute hurts (but it’s tolerable) and you’ve cracked at least one tooth from the clenching. The stress won. It won.
Because your bite is so messed up it takes nearly twice as long to set the temporary crown, you have even more time to think. You think about over-excitabilities and innate wiring and inner reactions to outside stressors and how many times you’ve tried to manage your stress and how many times you’ve failed. You wonder if you’re always going to feel this way, and what the stress could do to your body next, and you feel sad. Eventually you feel lightheaded, but that’s from reclining nearly upside-down for 90 minutes.
You realize as you stumble out the door to the car that you have more thinking to do. About self-care and stress and living an epic life instead of a to-do list. But that thinking will have to wait, for ibuprofen and muscle relaxants and soup will prevent any kind of coherent thought.