When the phone rang earlier this week I snatched it from the cradle, expecting something about the adoption. My heart immediately sank when I heard the secretary from our dentist’s office. Rose was far too excited as she informed me that not only were they ready to complete the implant that was started earlier this year, but also making arrangements to be in on a Friday to do it. I jotted notes as she explained everything to me. Yes, I would have a ride to and from the dentist’s office. No, I would not be driving that day. Yes, I understood the risks associated with anesthesia. Yes, I could come in the day before and complete some paperwork.
I hung up with Rose, still feeling none of her excitement, but a rather unpleasant dread. The way a lobster feels when he stares at a pot of boiling water.
On the page of notes I’ve taken there is a single thing that stands out. It seems like its written just that bit bolder, set off slightly from the other scribbled notes. I’m still holding the phone and I dial Andrew’s number while I look at that little bit. The way it’s off to the side, it could be unimportant. Just a little nothing added as an afterthought. No matter how much I wish it was, it sits there as the most important thing on the paper; the remainder of the balance due for the procedure.
“Hey, it’s me,” I say when Andrew picks up his cell. “Bad time?”
“No,” he says, sounding chipper and I ruefully think that won’t last.
“I heard from the dentist, about the implant. They’re ready to finish it off,” I say. I take a breath and tell him how much it’s going to cost us. There’s a moment of silence. I’m the lobster, dangling over that pot of water.
“Okay,” Andrew says slowly. He’s quiet again.
“I’ll need you to bring me and pick me up, can you manage that?” I can’t help but feel I’m asking so much out of him. The guilt feels hot and sticky. It’s so much money, and the in the face of all our other expenses … I feel sick just thinking about worrying about it.
We hammer out the details. Andrew remembers an early morning meeting, which for me means I’ll be dropped off at the dentists half an hour before my appointment. I’d rather not be dropped off at all. I haven’t forgotten the five hours I spent in the dentists chair this spring as they scrapped the remains of a dead root that had fused to my jaw. Nor have I forgotten the uncomfortable feeling of the bone graft that was required afterward, to replace bone lost, and the months it took adhering to my jaw. Some more practical voice in my head pipes up and advises me to find a secure spot under the bed until all this nasty dentist business goes away.
I ignore the voice and, trying to get on with the business of the day also ignore that this dental appointment looms over me, well under me like a pot of boiling water.