Monday, September 9, 2013

Zen and the Art of Dentistry

Nothing quite like Monday morning dental procedures.  Imagine inhaling the wonderful gas that makes one's mind and body float to the happy place, and listening to this:

That was me, this morning. I was so stoned, I kicked my shoes off for the full relaxed effect. I was having a tooth prepped for a temporary crown, to be replaced in 2 weeks my a permanent one. I'm laughing to myself because I was feeling traumatized -- when injecting one of the Novocaine shots, the dentist directly hit a nerve and the entire right side of my body came off the chair. OHMYGAWD OMYGAWD OMYGAWD. Yet another First World problem, for sure. But this was my mouth, my pain, and by gawd I was not happy. Even with all that happy gas I was inhaling. I was thinking, hey, in my grandparent's day, a lot of people had all their teeth pulled and dentures installed when they were my age. So I know I'm in good shape. Until the Novocaine wears off. Then I think I'm going to feel the pain. Oh, oh, here comes another "oldie" In my gas haze, I'm really listening to the words and they sound profound. I'm thinking, these lyrics came from a deep and vulnerable place. The song was operating on two levels: a pop song and a deeply human experience. "I've overcome the blow. I learned to take it well. I only wish my words could convince myself." Fucking love sucks.  Until it doesn't.  Then it's mighty lovely.  Until it isn't.

These are the things running through my brain while the noise of the drill, the smell of ground teeth are filling my senses.  Then I find myself chanting (in my head) the medicine Buddha mantra:
Om Bekandze Bekandze
Maha Bekandze
Radza Samudgate Soha

The mantra means:

May the many sentient beings
who are sick,
quickly be freed from sickness.
And may all the sicknesses of beings
Never arise again.

Good Lord, I am all over the map.  Just as if I were practicing meditation, I continue to remind myself to concentrate on my breath (and all that wonderful gas that I'm inhaling).  And the mantra keeps repeating itself.  And then James Taylor is singing, and then Billy Joel.  And the dentist is saying, "Please relax your tongue." And I don't even know where my tongue is.  How do you relax something that you are not even physically aware of?

With the procedure complete and oxygen pumped into my lungs, my head is clearing and I am returning to the world.  Gotta admit that there were some ecstatic mental moments in the past hour and half.  All because my brain chemicals were altered.  I used to pay a lot of money for that.  Oh wait.  I still do.  I wrote a hefty check for my dental experience, and murmured to Angel (yes, Angel) "In reality, you ought to be paying me for what I just went through."  She hears that a lot.


  1. What kind of gas is that? Nitrous oxide? Such an interesting neuron firing mix of everything. The brain unleashed to music. Hope you feel grand when it all wears off.

    1. yes, that Nitrous stuff. Wild. I hope I feel grand, too. Right now I'm just lying in a fetal postion.

  2. i bring my own music, so as to guide my trip. check out this guy

    1. That's actually a great suggestion, Roger. Hope I remember it next time.

  3. let me try that again

    1. great article, R. Thanks. I had no idea it was discovered as early as 1772.

  4. Jim Croce did it for me!

  5. Replies
    1. don't you? I can't imagine this procedure without it. I'm a wimp.

    2. i got gas for an extraction once; it made me very happy and chatty, which i'm pretty sure amused all the dental students observing. that was a million years ago, when i was a broke student and using the dental school for all this work i needed done. never for a crown. hmmph.

  6. Lordy you had me laughing with your all-over-the-map travels here!


Yellow Cottage, Part 2

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