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Every six months, my grandmother and I make an appointment to go to Pontiac for a dental visit. Everything is usually routine, from the car ride, to what happens in the dentist chair. Three quarters of this 30-minute drive is usually spent talking to my grandmother, the other quarter is spent internally panicking at the thought of the dentist.
Toward the end of fall in 2014 a different procedure needed to be done. I was highly nervous and spent most of the car ride in silence. I needed the last two wisdom teeth pulled. The teeth had grown in at separate rates, so they needed to be pulled a year apart. As an extra bonus, my normal dentist was doing this rather than sending me to a specialist, as he was qualified to take the teeth out himself.
In November, my grandma and I made this trip. Once there I remember having to sign a waiver for the first time in my life; having just reached the age of 18, there were things I now had to do that I didn’t before. After a few questions from the nurse about using the numbing gas and a quick quip from me about being afraid of needles, I settled down into the all too familiar dentist chair.
By now I was very used to that chair, so I wasn’t nervous per se. I was more concerned for the impending needle that would deliver the crucial numbing agent needed for pulling teeth (I discovered later that I also have a phobia of blood). As the nurse put the bulbous nose mask on my face, I felt the rush of gas. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a nightmare I would not soon forget.
After making sure I was in a good resting position, I settled my gaze on the TV in the room. It was playing a news station, Fox to be exact. My memory already is fuzzy, at least the memory of what exactly was playing or being spoken about at the time. I remember at this point thinking the gas was stronger than normal, but I dismissed it assuming the nurse had increased the dose because I normally used gas for all major dental work requiring use of a needle. Only afterward I was told it should have been a red flag for what happened next.
Not long after this, I remember starting to really feel the numbing. I could barely lift up my arms. I figured this was normal because of the higher dosage so I tried to dismiss it. I let my mind wander, hoping that it was just nerves. After about two or three minutes I became so engrossed in a daydream I completely lost track of time. It was then I realized something was terribly wrong. I spent another two or three minutes racking my brain for information, where I was, what I was doing; I couldn’t remember who I was. I confused myself with my book character. That memory was very clear, though it was closer to an emotional charge. I remember vividly the initial fear and panic, I didn’t realize at the time I was unresponsive in the chair. I can only assume a nurse came in to check on me and ask me a question, only to have me be blankly staring into space. It was at this point I remember quite vividly the TV picture being frozen and no longer moving. In fact, the whole room was at a standstill. All sounds had ceased except one that filled my ears to an intolerable level. It was defining, a ringing in my ears I have never heard before, nor want to ever hear again. I remember clearly thinking I was going to die. This filled me with dread as I fought to keep myself from becoming any worse. I feared the room finally going dark and I would not ever be able to see my family again. My own grandmother, who I later found out was not made aware at the time of the incident, would have been inconsolable. I was the grandchild she and her husband raised like their own daughter; to lose me I think would have utterly devastated them. At least, I like to think of it like that. Though soon enough I could feel myself taking in sharp breaths and moving my arms. I felt hands trying to hold me down as I fought to sit up. I still couldn’t see anything. I was not thinking. I only wanted to sit up because I was scared and did not want to be trapped in that chair any longer. Once my vision started to clear, I realized I was trembling. The room felt cold like the temperature had dropped drastically. It was then that I realized the severity of what happened and how grateful I was to be alive to be able to write about it now.