It starts off well enough, as the dentist and I laugh and joke. On the chair I giggle as the nurse hoovers up the saliva from my mouth, trying to stop my tongue following the nozzle. "Open wider please." I try to, as my mouth is invaded. He becomes impatient as I fail to obey his instructions - but his heavily accented English is muffled by the mask, and my ears are full of the sound of the drills - can I be to blame for not hearing his orders?
My mouth is clamped open, hands and instruments forced inside. A sheet of rubber is placed over the opening; my eyes are closed almost always - the occasional glimpses of tools of torture that I catch when I open them for an instant is enough to keep them tightly shut. I cannot help my mouth watering - it's natural, right? The suction tube pushes to the back of my throat, making me gag and my mouth waters even more. My ears are filled with the sound of the drill, sometimes high pitched, threatening to deafen me. He switches drill bits, and a low vibration echoes in my bones. The nauseating smell, akin to burning hair, makes me gag again, and I wonder whether I will drown in my own juices.
He pauses for a while, telling me that I will need a crown, that they will need to cut into my gum to place it. I cry - I try not to, but I do. The chair is tilted back again, but my tears continue; he tells me to stop - I know this is not the Asian way; emotion should not be shown, if it is even felt. But I am not Asian. My eyes leak and my mouth waters. The sobbing makes my nose block, and the saliva means that I cannot breathe from my mouth. My closed eyes widen. I would jump up, screaming, but I worry about where the drill would go. Eventually I attract his attention with my hands, and he gets the nurse to suck the fluid from my mouth; at least I can breathe now.
Still he goes on, scraping the insides of the root. There is some pain, but not much - I know I am being a wimp - but I can feel the movement; my mind is drawing me unwanted diagrams. Ouch, that hurt! - "You have pain?" - I nod infinitesimally; was that a note of pleasure in his voice? Probably not, but I am sure that he hates me. The nurse squeezes my shoulder - she's on my side, even if he isn't. Haven't we finished yet? "Now I must clean the root - do not move your tongue, or who knows where the drill will end up?" A threat, I am sure! I try hard to control my roving tongue; to curtail the instinct to swallow - please, let it be over soon.
"Now I will insert the medication." Whatever, just do it quickly, please! The rubber shield shifts, and is covering up my nose. My mouth again is filled with fluid - how will I breathe? How long can I hold my breath? He removes his hands, and my own fly up to my nose, shifting the material to suck in a desperate breath. "Oh, you can't breathe? You should of said!" How the frig was I meant to do that? You scold me if I twitch! Nearly done now, just the temporary filling to go, and then I can have a week's grace until I must return to this house of pain. Finally it is done, and he rips (I feel) the clamps out of my mouth. The nurse is looking at me sympathetically, her eyes are smiling over her mask as she motions me to rinse, and I watch my blood trickle down the drain.
I'm feeling tender - emotionally more than physically - as I pick up my bag and walk to the receptionist's desk. "That will be 8,300 baht," she tells me. It's a little more than I have on me, so I tell her I will get more cash and come back. She tells me that she can take a credit card, but I don't have one on me. She is not pleased by this, but I make my exit, telling her I will be back soon; she follows me outside, asking for my passport! This is truly adding insult to injury - she suspects me of not paying! My mind is shouting at me, telling me that this is Banglamphu, it attracts all sorts, and maybe some of them are likely to run out after dental work without paying; I shouldn't take it personally. My emotions are ruling the day, though, and I do take it personally, and burst into tears. I know I am a stupid girl; I tell myself so, but it doesn't stop me crying.
I walk back along Soi Rambuttri, my head down, refusing to meet anyone's eyes. Huffing and puffing I open my room, and collapse against the door - why am I being so pathetic? It was only a trip to the dentists, and truthfully, it didn't hurt that much. I stand under the shower until I gain some control, then return via the ATM. I try to vocalise to the receptionist how she made me feel, knowing that it is pointless; she is probably trained to react that way. I am just being stupid and emotional, and to prove it I begin crying again, admonishing myself internally, but unable to cease my snivelling.
I leave in a huff, and contemplate having a massage; I decide I need a beer instead, and have two at a bar in Kho San Road, whilst watching a harrowing film about soccer violence starring Elijah Wood. I get things back in perspective and drag myself away, returning to my room to write this. The movement of my fingers over the keyboard has a cathartic effect; now I feel better. This is why I write; it doesn't matter whether anyone reads it; writing is medicinal.
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