Tuesday, November 9, 2010

trying to have a come apart

I know the overriding characteristic of my writing here is sophistication, so this may come as a surprise to friends of the blog, but I come from a rural background.  I grew up living eight miles outside of a town of roughly 1700 people.  We had one county school, and I graduated in a class of about fifty-two.  Not only is my hometown as podunk as they come, I come from an ancestry that is a mixture of Kentucky hill people and Tennessee dirt farmers.  Because education has been a fairly high priority in my family for two or three generations now, I can largely pass for a mostly normal, non-hick person.  Most of the time I'm even allowed to forget about this ridiculously country accent I have.  But every so often, I find myself in a situation that can only be summed up in the dialect of my youth; some quaint, down home saying comes out of my mouth, and I embrace my true self.  Yesterday was one of those days:

I'm trying to have a come apart.

My moma says this, and I have no idea where she learned it, but it basically means that someone is losing it or falling all to pieces.  Typically when she says it, she means that the person is overreacting to whatever particular circumstances are causing the "come apart."  It's the sort of behavior that Jess would describe as being dramatic.  One who is "trying to have a come apart" is upset or frustrated or tired or sick or feeling put upon and wants everyone to know about it and feel sorry.  There is nothing shy or retiring or unassuming about trying to have a come apart.  In short, I was made for trying to have a come apart.

But yesterday's come apart was so big that it was in my head all day.  I've been completely aware through the whole ordeal that I'm overreacting, but that seemed to have absolutely no bearing on the come apart.  And now I want to relive the whole mess so you all can sympathize with me, imaginary readers.  It's just the sort of thing we come-aparters like to do.  Bear with me in my attention-starved, persecuted existence.

You know those people who have managed to make it to adulthood with no major dental work:  they get their check-ups every six months, have never had a cavity, never wore braces, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound?  Well, I'm not one of those people.  The six to eight teeth you can see when I smile are the best I've got and worth at least half of what my long-suffering moma paid my orthodontist, but the rest of my mouth is big ol' mess.  My bottom teeth stayed straight until I lost my second set of retainers at about the same time my lower wisdom teeth began pushing diagonally through my gums.  I've got fillings galore, and one crown that replaced a cracked tooth.  I've never had a root canal, but I suspect it's just a matter of time.  So going to the dentist to have two small cavities filled as I did first thing Monday morning is barely a blip on my radar.  A couple of weeks ago, I had to go to the dentist to get a filling replaced because I had an old one that just fell out.  They discovered these two new cavities then and a third on the other side that we'll deal with next week.  (Apparently I hadn't been to the dentist in nearly three years.  Oops).  When I was there for that, he had to drill just a tiny bit to smooth things out where he was going to put the new filling.  He gave me the shot, which is always a little unpleasant and left me to go numb for a few minutes.  When he came back to drill, I wasn't deadened enough, but by the time I could communicate that, he was done with the drilling.

So fast forward to today when he gives me one shot on top and one on bottom that makes my eyes water like a faucet.  He goes away for a few minutes, and comes back to start drilling.  Again, I can feel what's going on, and it's not pleasant.  He stops pretty quickly this time and remembers that he's had to give me extra shots before and gives me another shot up top and another in the bottom for good measure.  Then he starts back to drilling immediately without giving them any time to take affect.  I'm no expert, so maybe that's not necessary for everyone, but I think it would have helped because I could still feel it.  By the time I get him stopped the second time, he's done drilling on top.  So I take a deep breath and get myself under control while he does the filling up top.

Then he starts drilling on the bottom, and surprise!  I can feel it too.  So he gives me shot #3 on the bottom (#5 overall).  I try to toughen up a little, but by this point my whole body is clenched, and once he starts drilling, the ongoing pain causes me to start sobbing, not crying.  The fact that I've got tears streaming down my face and I'm snubbing like a newborn doesn't get him to stop all at once, but when I start kicking my feet against the chair, he finally realizes that I'm serious.  I can't guarantee that I didn't reflexively bite him during this part either.  We had to stop for a minute while I mopped myself up with a tissue, and that's when I actually apologize for falling apart.  I was so embarrassed by myself.  So then he assures me that we're almost done, gives me shot #4 on the bottom and starts right back to drilling.  It was better at that point, but I could still feel way more than I think I should have.  Luckily, we were almost finished with drilling by that point, and I was able to keep my breathing under control though I continued to cry mostly silently until he was almost finished putting in the filling.  And of course, with six doses of numbing medicine in me, I had serious stroke victim face going on for several hours after.

Of course, as soon as I left I called my moma because I'm a giant baby--and because she too is no stranger to needing time for dental numbing shots to take effect.  When I'm trying to explain to her what happened, the horror of it comes back on me, and I cry like the giant baby I am in the Kroger parking lot (where I'd gone to buy ponytail holders because I left the house without one, and there was no way I was going to make it until eight p.m. with my hair just hanging around being annoying).  So I let Kroger soothe me until I realized that it was making me hungry, and I was afraid if I ate anything I'd bit my tongue off and not feel it because of how numb I finally was.  So after an errand at the bank, I went to work.  I gave Lisa only the very briefest summation of my dental trauma (you're jealous that she got the short version, aren't ya?) and went to my desk to start work and take my mind off the whole ordeal.

And that's when I had my third meltdown of the day.  I had an email waiting on me where a person in another department chastised me for something that I still maintain wasn't wrong, and she copied the email to my entire department, my two most immediate supervisors and two other unrelated departments, in effect scolding me in front of a couple dozen colleagues and blowing a very minor joke out of proportion.  Now on a normal day this might have been worthy of a couple minutes stewing and complaining about the misunderstanding to my lovely supportive coworkers who were all mad on my behalf, but if you'll recall, I'm trying to have a come apart.  So I was completely mortified.  I'm still embarrassed when I think about it these many hours later.  And thanks to the remaining built-up dental tension, I called a work friend, cussed at him a little for the stupidity of the whole mess, and had my third crying jag.

The remainder of the day was tear-free, but it was still touch and go at a few odd moments along the way.  For those keeping score, my mouth started aching as soon as feeling started coming back, and it's still store on Tuesday morning as I put the finishing touches on my completely self-indulgent rant.

But that, my friends, is what's known as trying to have a come apart.  While I don't wish a similar situation on you, I hope you get the chance to use it in a sentence one day soon.


  1. If it helps, I'm cringing just from reading the story. And a year or two ago when I had to go have some booster shot so I could take my free class at Harding, I had to cry a little once I got to the car. Great big babies of the world, unite!

  2. HATE HATE HATE those dentists that refuse to wait until the shots work!!! Been there--done that--and hurt for you when I read the blog. I'm thinking of scheduling a come apart for myself sometime soon.

  3. Sad news that your day sucked, but at least it got you blogging again. This was a VERY readable post, and I am happy to have it here to entertain me at 1:00 in the morning.

    You could try my strategy of not buying dental insurance and just not going to the dentist for about 8 years or so. I'm hoping to avoid seeing him until they invent fantastic new false teeth that can be painlessly inserted and require no maintenance.

    Anytime I think about dentists, I think about two VERY funny things. One is Bill Cosby's routine about the dentist, and the other is the Seinfeld episode where the dentist has a little fun with Jerry.


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