Maria Jiunta Heck
Dm - sent to web
Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been five years since my last dental visit and I was scared. Very, very scared. Because it actually may have been longer. This was like a DEFCON 5 level anxiety.
The dental hygienist came into the waiting room and beckoned me. I ignored her. She stared. I eventually slunk behind her into the room I’d been dreading this almost and much as the other clinical room I try to avoid but instead of stir-ups and cold instruments, there was a galaxy of very pointy, sharp, and cold instruments.
“Listen,” I told her, “It’s been awhile. I’m telling you this because I’m assuming in your line of work you would know I was lying if I said I kept up on this crap. But it’s not my fault. Breast cancer, you know…”
And there it was. My pathetic excuse for everything I don’t do correctly — from not abiding the speed limit to begging forgiveness for the depth of my tartar build-up.
I’ve been in remission for five years but I shamelessly throw out that morsel habitually in order to diffuse almost every uncomfortable situation.
“Sorry honey…no Girl Scout Cookies for me this year. I had breast cancer!”
Or: “Time for another colonoscopy?! But I just had breast cancer!”
And I’m certain it’s going to come right back around to bite me in my un-scoped rear end, sooner rather than later. I should’ve felt guilty. But I didn’t. I was too busy having the vapors.
Whatever. I have no pride, no boobs, no boundaries.
At any rate, I warned the poor hygienist that I cry a lot and a vigorous tooth scraping would be no exception. I advised her to ignore my tears unless they were accompanied by heaving hiccups, then I would choke on my own spit and she’d have to dial 911. Now I scared her. She was thinking: “If I just stayed in the bathroom three more minutes the other hygienist would’ve gotten this wack job.”
The excavation began and I was happy to see there was a TV. This was a treat; I could watch “Three and a Half Men” while having my 31 and a half teeth examined. Apparently I was missing a large chunk of a tooth and a filling. How did that happen, they wondered?
Don’t ask me. I had breast cancer! (Oh, I know exactly how it happened; take your pick: Good & Plenty, Cracker Jacks, Swedish Fish, Jolly Ranchers.) Dear God, I’m surprised that’s all that was lost. My rotting uvula shouldn’t be far behind.
My dentist tolerates my nonsense admirably well and tries to alleviate my anxiety as best he can, but I’m challenging. I squealed: “Welll…donhermee!!” “What?” “I said donherrrrmmeee!” “What?” ” Don’t hurt me!” He assured me he wasn’t in the business of hurting his patients. But how did I know he doesn’t have a padded room in the basement where he keeps all the big-mouthed, troublesome patients who harass him about hurting them, bite his finger and threaten to write a newspaper column about him?
Examination complete. They said, “See you in 6 months” and I laughed and laughed! But, I’m going to be better. Because, the only crown I want is the one I imagine that I perch jauntily on my head every morning when I awaken. So I’ll return. But not anytime soon. Because I had breast cancer…
Maria Jiunta Heck of West Pittston is a mother of three, a librarian and a business owner who lives to dissect the minutiae of life.