Yesterday, I dusted off an old writing reference book I had lying around my apartment in the hopes that this book would keep my mind occupied on my train ride to the dentist. I had The day I had been dreading had finally arrived… root canal day. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve been told about root canals; the most frightening story being the one my friend told me about her father punching a hole into a solid wood drawer. I cringed at the thought of something hurting so much that it would cause someone to punch a hole into a solid wood structure. Here I was, on my way to have the very same procedure that my friend said lead to the gaping hole in one of her families wood drawers. Despite the fact that it had been years since I was told this story, and that the root canal procedure had advanced, all I could imagine was unspeakable pain that would mar my very existence. With a heavy and rapidly beating heart, I was on my way to the dentist, which incidentally fit into the passage from my writing reference book that I selected to read on my train ride- “The scariest experiences I’ve ever had.” Some of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had have taken place at the dentist. I’ve always been afraid of going to the dentist. The sound of the drill, the gargantuan needles filled with Novocaine, the scent of teeth being pulverized, all of this and the mummified feeling the Novocaine left were enough for me to be over going to the dentist. Add in a couple of horrific dental experiences and therein lies a recipe for dental neglect, the consequence for my dental neglect being a root canal. Having only my non- root canal related experiences to look back to, coupled with various root canal horror stories, was enough for my mind to start conjuring up images of me writhing in pain for days.
A couple of hours, and tears, later, the root canal was over. When it was all said and done, I wasn’t writhing in pain and all of the wood furniture in my apartment remains intact. All of the things that frighten me about the dentist notwithstanding, the root canal was not as horrific as I envisioned. The debilitating root canals of yesteryear were indeed a thing of the past. This shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, after all, I’d been told countless of times by a handful of people that root canals nowadays are not that bad. Of course, “not that bad” to me meant that only one piece of wood furniture in my apartment would be defaced. As I was adding this “imagination gone wild” experience to my file, I thought, how many of these “imagination gone wild” experiences had I given into throughout the years. Are these imagination benders, usually prompted by the “What if” questions, what have kept me stuck in the mire? “What if I get rejected?,” What if I fail?,” “What if there is no turning back? ,” soon after I’d ask myself these questions my imagination would work overtime to generate grizzly scenarios that always ended in humiliation and failure. The fact that I have no solid proof that any of the cringe- worthy scenarios my imagination drummed up would come true has not deterred me from trusting in the strength of these fantasies. Just as I had allowed myself to get caught up in the root canal horror stories, I have allowed myself to get caught up in “What if”s” scenarios that have kept me from taking some risks, risks that could significantly boost the quality of my life. It’s high time I kick my “What if’s” to the curb and embrace all the good, bad, pretty, and ugly that taking chances has to offer.
Needless to say, I am not looking forward to going back to get another root canal (yes, I have to get another root canal, :/). Getting a root canal is not fun. However, the truth is that had I not personally gone through the root canal experience my imagination would have kept churning out horrific scenarios where I’d run mad in the street with pain, punching holes into every piece of wood furniture I’d come across. But having gone through the root canal drill (pun intended), I know that it won’t kill me. I am not going to die, let alone punch holes in my wood furniture. What I will take away from this root canal saga are not only some healthy teeth and, fingers crossed, killer crowns, but also a renewed determination to not take my “What if’s” at face value. So, here’s to a healthy grin and less “What if’s.”