When I was small, I had this horrible fear of the dentist.
I would get so nervous when it was "that time" of year. I would actually feel sick to my stomach. Sometimes even shake with nerves. I mean, they would put sharp objects in my mouth and poke around, and there was always the very real possibility that they'd find some reason to drill in my teeth. And that just sounded awful. My dad worked in construction. I knew what drills did, and I did not want that to happen in my teeth. And they might put that thing over my nose and make me breathe in that stuff that smelled funny and made you feel really, really odd. And then there was the idea that they might have to actually stick a needle in my mouth and give me a shot in my mouth and then I wouldn't be able to feel my mouth. And I was always sure that my teeth must be rotting out of my head and they would have to do all of those things to me all at once. And Oh. My. Gosh.
As soon as we'd walk into the office, and that antiseptic/novocaine smell hit me, I would begin to cling for dear life to my mom. She would do her best to calm me. She would read me "Stand Back Said the Elephant, I'm Going to Sneeze". (That helped a little.) She would tell me that while I was getting my teeth cleaned, I needed to look very carefully at the big mural of the woods on the wall of the office, because there was a squirrel hiding somewhere in there. (I liked squirrels.) She would explain that when it was over, if I was brave, I could pick a prize out of the Treasure Chest that the dentist had. (I liked prizes.)
And then the dental hygienist would come out and call my name, and I had to stand up and be brave and go get my teeth cleaned. Even though I really wanted to run in the other direction as fast and as far as I could and neverever come back.
And sometimes they'd find a reason to drill and give me shots, but most of the time they didn't. And I got to pick out prizes. And I memorized "Stand Back Said the Elephant, I'm Going to Sneeze." And I never, ever saw one single squirrel in that big mural. And I'd survive to see another day. With a new toothbrush, no less.
So, today, I have to go to the dentist. And I feel sick to my stomach. And I think my teeth are rotting out of my head. And I'm worried they'll find a reason to use that hideous drill they have. And my mom's not coming with me. And I'll have to make due with back issues of People Magazine. And I won't get to pick anything out of a treasure chest. And there isn't even a mural of the woods for me to stare at to try and find a squirrel (although I think maybe there never was a squirrel.... maybe they were just telling me that.....).
But I will (most likely) survive.
With a new toothbrush, no less.