When I woke up two weeks ago with an ache in the right side of my jaw, I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t think much of it because it’s not exactly unusual for me, and through no fault of my own.
I get jaw pain quite a bit because I clench my jaw when I’m stressed (which is almost all the time), I occasionally grind my teeth in my sleep, AND I have TMJ. It’s the trifecta of dental fuckery. And it really sucks, not just because, duh, it hurts, but because I am absolutely terrified of dental problems. Anything that might send me to the dentist freaks me out to the point of panic attacks. Not kidding.
In life, I really only have two fears: spiders, and dentists. Don’t try to logic it. There’s no logic-ing phobias. I can’t be rational or reasonable when it comes to those two things. I just can’t. And the more someone tries to make me, the worst the anxiety over both of them get.
So, when it comes to mouth issues, I try to remain as calm as possible, try to remind myself that I’m always having issues, because if I start thinking about how it could be something more serious that may send me into that cold plastic chair, I feel my blood pressure rise, and there’s no stopping that downward spiral into madness.
About a week and some change into this jaw pain , and as quickly as it started, it disappeared. Relief- I was in the clear! I could finally chew on the right side of my mouth again!
To the pantry I went to grab a bag of my favorite rice crackers. I know they sound disgusting, but trust me, they’re delicious. And crunchy. And delicious. And on the third cracker I dared to chew on my right side, I bit into something especially hard. Like my intermittent jaw pain, it’s not unusual. These crackers sometimes have super stupid hard parts in them. I kept chewing. I swallowed. My tongue ran across the back side of my right teeth, and immediately I knew something was wrong. It sort of felt like I just had a build up of cracker on the back of my tooth, and it sort of felt like the cracker WAS the back of my tooth. Panic began to set in as I dropped the crackers and sprinted my ass to the bathroom, heart racing. I grabbed my toothbrush and vigorously tried to remove the cracker feeling from the back of my tooth, but it wouldn’t come off, because it wasn’t a cracker. It was what was left of my tooth. I’d broken the back half off.
The more I looked at it, the more I started to freak out, because reality was setting in. There was no avoiding the dentist on this one. In fact, in my terror-filled non-expert brain, it looked bad enough that it may not be able to be saved. Which meant not only would I have to go to the dentist, but I’d have to go to the dentist and have hands and machines and needles and drills in there, ripping and pulling and basically trying to kill me.
I ran back down the stairs, now in complete freak-out mode. And I don’t cry. My kids have seen me cry maybe 10 times in their entire lives, and that’s being generous. This wasn’t just crying, though. This was hyperventilating, melting down, feeling sick, end of the world kind of crying. Fear and panic and sheer terror took over. Phobia took over. The thought of dental surgery took over. The thought of losing my tooth took over. Anxiety took over.
Being that my kids rarely see me cry, and I probably looked absolutely terrifying because the tissue I’d been using to sop up my tears had fluffed all over my face to the point where I looked like the bear from the Charmin commercial’s ass, they just kind of stared at me for a while as I paced the room. It took a few minutes, but they finally worked up the courage to ask me what had happened. I explained to them through blubbery sobs. More silence as they contemplated what to do, or what to say.
He walks over to me and in his most sincere voice tells me
“Mommy, at least if you lose your tooth, you can put it under your pillow and get money from the Tooth Fairy.”
I may not have patience. I may not do crafts. I’m not a great cook, and I sure as hell don’t chaperone or set up playdates, but one thing I’ve always prided myself on his having self-control. I know when to, and not to say things, and who not to say them around. I’m very aware, and cautious, especially when it comes to the fact that my kids still believe in things like Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the mother badword Toothfairy. I want to let them believe in those things for as long as possible because there is no time in your life where you get that kind of belief in magic back. It’s there only for a short time, and then it’s gone. Poof. I cherish that they still believe. I think it’s sweet, special and adorable, but NEVER. IN. MY. LIFE have I been SO CLOSE to DESTROYING their childhood like the Incredible fucking Hulk as I was at that moment, about to scream that the TOOTH FAIRY DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST, LOSING MY TOOTH IS NOT A GOOD THING. I GET NOTHING BUT A HOLE IN MY FACE AND THE ONE WHO PUTS MONEY UNDER YOUR STUPID PILLOW IS ME.
Deep breath. Imagine the looks on their faces as I wreck their belief in magic because anxiety takes all prisoners.
I didn’t. I managed to lock it down, and the magic in this household is safe until some little shit at school ruins it for them, but as long as it’s not me, it’s okay.
As far as my tooth goes? It lives to see another day. There will be no Tooth Fairy visiting me, but she WILL be rewarding me, because even though my kids don’t know this, I know that she is me, and I’m rewarding myself for good behavior.
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