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  • Writer's pictureLian Shoemake

On Root Canals and Gratitude


I’m still numb from a root canal procedure this morning. The problematic tooth began its dramatic rampage a few months back with a brutal toothache that was certainly Satan-approved. That led to a series of dentist visits and interventions which provided temporary relief, but never a complete resolution.

Finally, a few days ago Satan’s baby started poking its head out from the gumline under the tooth in the form of a blister. That was the trigger for the dentist to recommend a root canal, which brought me to today.

I sat in the dentist chair in a moment of isolation while waiting to get numb. My bib was attached, dark shades on, and I was staring at the monitor displaying the X-ray image of the tooth du jour. Then I had what I thought was a weird thought: I’m grateful.

It occurred to me that it might be an odd time to feel gratitude, only minutes away from a root canal, but in another way, it made perfect sense. I was safe, in the hands of professionals. The purpose and totality of my relationship with these folks was for them to provide care, and for me to receive it, and that was exactly what was happening.

Not insignificantly, I felt gratitude that I am in the position of being insured, so there was no out-of-pocket expense for this. Additionally, since I have had multiple dental procedures over the course of my years on the planet, I went in already knowing everything would work out fine; yet another reason to be grateful.

So as the dentist and assistant did their drilling, poking, filling and speaking in code (“21 minus L” and similar), I closed my eyes and let my mind wander to thoughts such as food, what I might do for the rest of the day, etc. I even had to suppress a chuckle at one point; I don’t remember what I was thinking about, but whatever it was, it was immediately replaced with the thought of what might happen if my head was shaking with laughter while this guy is doing a deep dive in my rear right molar.

As expected, everything went fine, and I felt no pain at all. So, I have yet another reason to feel grateful. In retrospect, it seems to me that there is really no weird time to feel or express gratitude.

What are you grateful for today?



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