Dental Work Isn’t Boring.

IBEATCANCERI had a dental appointment yesterday. It was the first time I’d been to the dentist in more than eighteen months. I’d had a cleaning scheduled in late June last year, but my cancer diagnosis put everything, including getting my teeth polished, on hold. My wife reminded me that yesterday was also an anniversary. July 7th, 2014 was my first day of chemotherapy. It would take a little time before I’d learn the lesson that I now pass on to everyone who has to fight The Crab: chemo is boring.

It wasn’t until yesterday, as I was lying back in a leather chair, strapped down, with a bright light in my face, being jabbed, poked, prodded, stabbed, scraped, pricked, sliced, and sprayed with foul-tasting chemicals, that I realized why chemo terrified me before I’d started. I thought it would be like a dental appointment. I thought it would be hours of painful treatments with doctors occasionally coming in to say, “And just for fun, Mr. Waldrop, we’re going to hammer a chisel into your pelvis.” No one told me that chemotherapy, which sounds so intimidating, would be nothing more than a single needle stick followed by several hours of patiently waiting for IV bags to drain into my veins. The side effects may be horrendous, and for a lot of cancer patients they are. I was lucky. I had the worst side effects before I started chemo. Yes, I would have a few bouts of nausea and lose my hair along with some fingernails and toenails, and I’d have an allergic reaction to sunlight that would keep me indoors for most of the summer. Getting chemo turned out not to be so bad.

I thought it would be like this:

It turned out to be like this:

10 Comments

  1. Chuck Baudelaire

    You’re far too awesome to succumb to cancer. I won’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve seen a dentist. I’d probably enjoy chemo more than I enjoy going to the dentist.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you. And the main difference between the dentist and chemo is chemo takes so much longer. And you don’t have to worry about your veins collapsing when you’re getting a cleaning. If you do then you’ve gone to the wrong dentist.

      Reply
  2. Gina W.

    How funny that you decided to make a music video while waiting for your chemo sessions to finish. I mean, why the hell not? It’s a great idea. You can only build so many log cabins out of the tongue depressor sticks, right?

    I had completely forgotten about the dentist song. It’s still funny after all these years. I’m probably one of the few people who actually enjoys going to the dentist. One reason is that my teeth are usually healthy so it’s just routine cleanings every six months. The other reason is that my dental hygienist is a raved-haired goddess with my sense of humor. I’m a little bit in love with her. If I was a man I would try to make her my wife. Anyway, I always enjoy our time together which makes going to the dentist an enjoyable experience rather than a chore, which is nice.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The nurses loved the music video too. It was really one of several I wanted to do. It’s amazing how much time you have on your hands when you’re getting chemo.
      And I’m really unnecessarily cruel to my dentist. She’s great and most of the time I only need a cleaning because I take good care of my teeth. It wasn’t the regular assistant who cleaned my teeth this time, but she still came in to say hello. I think I’ll always be her favorite patient because of the time she told me her previous patient was a hockey player and I said, “I went to a fight once and a hockey game broke out.”

      Reply
  3. kdcol

    I used to be okay going to the dentist. Not so anymore. My gums have gotten more sensitive as the years have gone by. Huh hmm.. And my teeth stain super easily and the hygienist has to really plow through my teeth. Ouch. I’ve even had to give up my one (huge) cup of coffee in the mornings, the staining was ridiculous. Before anyone feels too sorry for me, it was decaf. I know! What’s the point??? What can I say, I liked the taste and the warmth in my cold cold office! Love the homemade video, Christopher!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Nothing should stand between you and coffee, even if it is decaf. About thirty years ago I heard scientists were working on something that could be applied to teeth that would prevent stains and make it easier to keep teeth clean. I guess it didn’t go anywhere, unless there’s some dark dental conspiracy.

      Reply
  4. TwerlaP

    The Crab is truly awful. But success rates keep going up, so yaayy medicine!
    And, your dentist straps you down?? Kinky.
    I’ve had three root canals and my wisdom teeth pulled. Each time I got the gas and many shots, and STILL felt it all. My dentist gets real nice when I’m crying.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Ouch. I’ve been lucky in only having one wisdom tooth removed, and they only took that out because it had a small cavity and the dentist decided there was no point in filling it. My teeth are always in really good shape, but I like to go in and quote Jack Nicholson in Little Shop of Horrors: “I have three or four abscesses, I touch of pyorrhea, nine or ten cavities, I lost my pivot tooth, and I’m in terrible pain!”
      My dentists are so nice and I’m so cruel to them.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Because I’ve gotten endocarditis a few times because of a leaky heart valve, I get an IV of antibiotics before every teeth cleaning, at my hospital’s cancer infusion center. It’s pretty boring, as nobody seems to be making videos there like yours. I’m getting my next teeth cleaning a week from Wednesday and if things go as planned, I’ll re-watch your video then.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Maybe there’ll be time for you to make a video of your own. Unlike me you don’t have to rely on lip syncing to carry a tune, and I’m sure there’s some Gilbert and Sullivan that would fit with getting an infusion.
      On a more serious note you’ve reminded me that the infusion center I went to had private rooms for each patient. At times that was nice, but I’ve seen other infusion centers that were more open, and sometimes I wish I’d had more opportunity to talk to my fellow patients.

      Reply

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