Monday, November 22, 2010


Near the end of my business trip I suddenly developed a toothache. ‘Why is it that whenever things are going well, there is always something to mar the joy?’ were the thoughts that went round in my head. ‘My days in Tasmania have gone really well: I obtained a number of orders, helped a lot of clients with my service and expertise and now I suddenly have this intense pain.’
I had had troubles with a back molar before and the dentist back in Melbourne had deadened the nerve, pending a proper filling. Naturally, my repressive memory worked well – too well – and I had forgotten all about it. But now I was reminded of this unresolved problem at the most inopportune moment! Now I suddenly had to find a dentist and find one fast!
It was a very modern practice with a few treatment rooms and plenty of dental assistants. There is always a way of identifying an upmarket dentist by the number of assistants and this one really had them milling about behind the reception counter and rushing in and out of treatment rooms.
After noting down my personal details on a questionnaire, I was taken to a large room, ultra-modern and furnished with everything pneumatic, electric and ecstatic, I thought.
Dr John Benton came into the room and introduced himself to me whilst the two assistants stepped into the background, looking at me expectantly. Dr John was a pleasant looking youngish doctor, with an air of competence about him. He realised right away that I had neglected my treatment in Melbourne and with the dead nerve in my tooth, probably gangrene had set in, hence the pain. He was very tactful about this and only mentioned this in between praising me for brushing my teeth regularly. Pressing a button, whilst talking to me, he positioned me horizontally and whilst examining my mouth, filled it with various instruments, preventing me from talking.
Looking up to the ceiling, I found that even that area had been commandeered for the patient’s comfort. There was a large picture on the ceiling, right above my head, a painting of an idyll, that is, a lake with white swans gliding serenely past a boat with two semi-naked ladies or water nymphs sitting in it, gracefully admiring water lilies they were holding in the palm of their pretty hands with a comely gesture. A gentle wind seemed to take some leaves from the willow trees at the water’s edge, couching them lovingly as it transported them through the air to place them gently onto the water’s surface, around the boat, like placing a baby into its cradle.
It was a picture of complete serenity and taking it in was like a beautiful dream….
And then I saw something horrible that would have made me sit bolt upright if I had been able to! It was so disgusting that my mouth clamped shut but could not do so properly because of all the instruments I was biting into.
There was on the picture, right above my head, the biggest black spider I had ever seen! Larger than my hand and wearing a disgustingly bristly black fur coat. It did not move but should it ever wish to drop down, it would fall directly into my mouth!
Perhaps that was what this arachnoid was thinking know because it remained motionless, clearly contemplating its next move. Staring at it in horror, I heard John’s amazed voice: ‘Open your mouth, please!’ I could not tell him anything, as this monster could decide any moment to drop on me and it was clearly better to keep my mouth shut. All I could manage was some gurgling sound. John ordered something from the assistant who was standing by his side.
‘Peter, open your mouth please!’ He noted that something was wrong with me, as my body was rigid and sweat was appearing on my face. My eyes were wide open and staring upwards.
He switched off some apparatus and the sucking noise stopped. It was relatively quiet in the room.
‘Why doesn’t anybody look up to the ceiling?’ I increased the pressure of my bite on the instruments in my mouth.
By pressing a button, he quickly converted my dental chair into upright position.
‘Peter, why don’t you open your mouth?’ He asked with forced patience. His pretty assistants looked at me puzzled.
Up there!’ I groaned, managing to use one arm.
Finally, they all looked up and saw it too.
With horror on their faces, they ushered me into another room with identical layout but minus the spider.
The following root canal treatment was sheer bliss for me – I cannot relay the relief I felt and shall always be grateful to the good dentist and his dedicated and understanding team!

Peter Frederick

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