Iguanas are exotic creatures. They're in just about every nook and cranny on the island.
Iguanas remind me of hanging out at the beach. They can show up just about anywhere.
They look like fierce creatures. You might even think they're dangerous, but they're not. I wouldn't say I'm afraid of iguanas, but I do prefer to give them a little distance.
I do, however, have another phobia. It's a fear that has to do with humans; a particular type of human.
Like lots of people, I hate going to the dentist. I avoid going to see anyone until it's absolutely necessary. I know it's wrong, but I'm guilty.
I equate the dentist with pain. I'm either in pain when I go to the office, when I'm in there, or when I leave. It's all pain.
I've been told I grind my teeth at night. I wouldn't recommend it if you want any kind of longevity out of your pearly whites. Over the years the constant pressure can end up putting cracks in your teeth. It wears them down.
It doesn't help that I like eating lovely crunchy things like nuts, ice, hard candy.
A couple of years ago my grinding and abuse cracked one of my teeth, and it got infected.
I had to find a dentist on St. Thomas. I hadn't even located a barber let alone a dentist.
Either I'd get it taken care of, or I'd have to suffer the fever, and pain that came with my cracked tooth like some demented bonus, indefinitely.
Pain killers weren't touching the lightning bolts generated in my mouth, firing through my eyeball, and escaping out my right temple. It was seriously destroying my island serenity.
I got right to it. I looked up a few dentists online and came up with a list, and a three-pronged strategy.
First, I had to understand the receptionist. I have real trouble understanding people on the island sometimes, and I didn't want any lack of communication where there's pain involved.
Second, after leaping over hurdle number one, the dentist had to be busy enough he couldn't see me immediately. If the dentist was too busy and couldn't see me right away, they were in high demand. If they were in high demand, they were good. Pretzel logic, I know, but I was in pain.
Third, being too busy to see me, maybe they could recommend a dentist who could. A good dentist wouldn't want to ruin his reputation by referring me to a bad dentist. So, if that dentist were too busy to see me, he would recommend someone good who would.
I got lucky! The first dentist I called passed test number one with flying colors. The receptionist was friendly, courteous, and best of all, understandable.
They passed the busy test too. The doctor couldn't see me right away, but he might be able to fit me in tomorrow. Bingo!
I made the appointment right away and was sure to show up on time.
When the doctor did the exam, he found the job required some heavy lifting he couldn't do. He'd have to refer me to an oral surgeon.
Surgeon?! Yikes! Holy Moley!
Finding decent bread on the island is difficult at the best of times. For heaven's sake, fresh vegetables are hard to come by. From what magic hat are they going to pull this mythical animal called an oral surgeon?
I had visions of being medivacked.
I'm happy to say the dentist had contacts. He knew of an oral surgeon only 15 minutes away. He called up and got me right in. I hoped it was one professional doing a favor for another expert. I didn't want to think the oral surgeons were hanging out at Floyds Barber Shop playing checkers just waiting for customers.
He told me the oral surgeon was excellent, so I got in the car and drove over the hill to my savior's office.
When I got in the waiting room, things got a bit blurry.
I remember some irritating and inconsiderate people. For some reason, they assumed it was okay to play videos with the volume up on their smartphones for entertainment. It was like they thought everybody should listen.
I remember getting into the dentist's chair.
I remember getting a shot of Novocain that felt like it penetrated my optic nerve. It numbed my entire throat. I felt like I had to swallow continually. Then, I felt like I had to cough. Then I felt like I couldn't breathe. Gasp.
Was I going to die in this freaking dentist's chair?
The doctor came back it to see if the numbing agent had done its job, and I was apoplectic. He told me to calm down. He said it was normal. I said that his normal felt like crap. He dismissed me like I was a petulant child. (I probably was).
He got to work with his jackhammers, hammers, and chisels. He pulled out several things I'm sure I saw in my studies of the Spanish Inquisition.
I thought to myself, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" Thank you Monty Python.
If they were questioning me, I would have confessed right away. I've seen Marathon Man. I know what happens. But I had nothing to confess. I'd have to make something up quick.
After much tugging and prying and digging out of tooth parts, the carnage was over.
The only thing left was a bruise on my chest from his knee.
I staggered on my way with a suitcase full of Vicodin and a bunch of gauze in my mouth.
All I wanted to do was sleep for three days. I think I did just that. The problem was solved, but at what cost?
It was a very stressful time on the island.
Last week, when I lost a crown. It fell off in my mouth, and my eyes bulged to the size of grapefruits. I waited for the lightning bolts behind my eye; the stabbing pain in the temple.
My previous dental trauma flashed in front of my eyes.
Luckily, there was no pain.
I did feel an extreme desire to wait for help until I got back to Dayton.
When I got here I went to my friend Dan is a dentist. I shyly went to him and said, "Can I come to see you in your office? I think I have a problem."
He said, "Of course."
I was delighted he said yes. There's no gnashing of teeth. It's all in the bag.
I have not regretted my decision to wait to come to Dayton. It was the right choice.
Until next week, I wish you peace.