Today, Bryan Adams and my cat saved my life. (Oh, the drama!) For the first time in my 30 years, I had to go to the dentist for a filling. A teensy, tiny filling – but one that nevertheless needed a needle. And if you know anything about me, you know that I have a debilitating fear of needles. Some of the standout moments in my long list of needle-related incidents include:
• Being betrayed by my parents as they lift my unsuspecting self up so that the pediatrician can stick a needle in my butt
• Having a nurse lie on top of me to hold me still so the doctor can get some bloodwork (in matric, while deathly ill with glandular fever)
• Collapsing my veins (three times) while the Liberty Life nurse tries to get blood for my dread disease policy (useless, I got duped into it, and I’ve never got a policy since)
• Ruining my husband’s jacket with tears while the dermatologist removes a “dodgy mole (it turned out to be an unhappy hair follicle) from my arm (yes, he was there to hold my hand)
So yes, needles. An hour before my dentist’s appointment found me schnarfing rescue remedy while getting increasingly panicky. Driving there I could barely focus on the road. And then I tried to distract myself by reading a magazine in the waiting room – no use.
Which is where my cat came in. People say you should go to your happy place in times of stress or fear. So I gave it a shot, flicking through various scenarios in my head and finally settling on Her Royal Highness Queen Peroni in one of her favourite positions: purring a mile a minute on my chest, every now and then delicately stretching a leg and flexing her pretty pink paws so that I can tickle between the pads. She does this usually when I’m trying to read, and it’s terribly cute and strangely calming. So I’m thinking of Queen Peroni, and it’s working… Kind of. Because every now and then her truck-engine purr sounds strangely drill-like, and every now and then the little pink paws sprout needlelike claws…
Round about then, the dentist came a-calling, causing an involuntary spasm of my tearducts, which he kindly ignored. I stumbled onto the chair… And this is where dear old Bryan Adams came in. As the dentist took my cheek between thumb and forefinger, vigorously shaking it in preparation for the needle’s entrance, I closed my eyes and started singing at the top of my lungs – in my head. “I got my first real six-string… Bought it at the five and dime… Played it ’till my fingers bled… Was the summer of sixty nine…” Word for word, beat by beat, totally ignoring the goings on in my hard-done-by mouth. And it worked. It really did.
I have my husband to thank for this piece of advice. It also works for air turbulence, I’ll have you know. Give it a shot.
So although I won’t call it my most fun experience, I survived it, stumbling out there with the vague fear that drool might be dripping down my chin.
And I am no longer a filling virgin, more’s the pity. Or as a friend sneakily commented, “it takes a filling to no longer be a virgin.” True that…