this is only a test

Do you ever feel like some days are just one big test? Today, I’m pretty sure I’m failing. In fact, earlier, I broke down and called P., absolutely sobbing, and I feel like an idiot because lots of people have actual problems and everything I’m dealing with is so trivial. Which is just another way I’m failing the test, I’m sure.

I had to go to the dentist this morning for my temporary crown. I got up really late (Amazing Race was two hours long last night; I’m not used to staying up until 11!), but figured I had plenty of time to have some coffee, check work e-mail, and take a quick shower before heading out.

But when I checked my work mail, a last minute request had popped up, and it made me jittery, because I didn’t have time to do a good job. I did as much as I could until I absolutely had to leave for the dentist. My shower, it was short.

And I was struck by wondering what I should do. Do I cancel my dental appointment? Do I stand behind my work even though I know it’s crap and only scratching the surface? I said that I had to head out, but that I would call as soon as I got back to see if there was time for a closer look. Did I pass the test? Was that the right thing? I just don’t know.

But I was off to the dentist. I was feeling really brave. Maybe my dentist phobia is over! Last time wasn’t so bad. I didn’t have a panic attack in the chair. I’m cured!


A crown fitting involves novocaine. Novocaine always wears off in the middle of drilling. It is just me? Do I have some wacky body chemistry that repels numbing? Every time I’ve had drills near my teeth, I wait, tensed and ready for the moment when I feel the pain. Every whirling sound is another step closer. It’s pure torture in that chair as I wait for it to come.

I had the glasses that played a movie, although it didn’t distract me all that much since the drill drowned out the sound. I sat there, digging my fingernails into my palms, trying not to cry, trying to remember to breathe, waiting for the pain moment. The dentist and hygenist were very soothing: “you’re doing a great job; everything’s fine; it’ll be over soon; you’re in total control, just raise your hand if you need us to stop.” Finally, I had the pain moment, which wasn’t really as bad as I hyped it to be in my mind. I didn’t raise my hand or say anything. Part of me wasn’t sure if I was feeling the drill or only imagining I was. But I think I started physically shrinking away from the drill, trying to press into the chair, and the dentist asked me if I was starting to feel it. “Uh-huh,” I said, trying very hard not to cry.

They gave me another shot, and even my nose felt numb after that. Then they found another cavity starting next to the place where they were putting in the crown, so they had to fill that, and didn’t have time for the filling replacement on the other side of my mouth. So, when I go back for the real crown (I have a temporary for two weeks), I have to get that filling, so I can look forward to more drilling and hyperventilation.

Do you know that they grind your tooth down all the way around when they put in a crown? It’s really horrific. Especially if you happen to feel around with your tongue before they put on the crown part. It’s like you have no tooth left. And I can’t really think about this any more, so let’s just move on.

I finally left the dentist, all emotionally distraught from the two-hour panic attack, and I checked my voice mail. The billing people for my physical therapist left a message that it turns out insurance won’t pay for the claim, and now I owe them $800. Plus, if I keep going, I’ll have to pay it all myself.

I called them back. I called my insurance. Sure enough, it’s true. Turns out that just because a place takes your insurance, that doesn’t mean they’re in your insurance network, and apparently, there’s really no way to know without calling your insurance each and every time you go see anyone new for any reason. The insurance plan I had last year did have coverage for out-of-network providers, but I switched because work gave us this song and dance about how they were raising rates and cutting coverage to save money so this plan I’m on now was the way to go and everything would be covered and no problem, let’s all be healthy. Bastards.

So, in addition to the $2500 in taxes and $600 in dental bills I have to pony up, I need to scrounge up an additional $800 for lack of health insurance. Despite the fact that I pay for health insurance each and every paycheck. Sucks, huh. Also, I need to find a new physical therapist, although that probably means completely starting over and maybe I should just suck it up and deal with the pain rather than figure this all out.

I stifled the tears to called work back to find out if I had time to do a little more on that last minute project. No. It was already at the printer.


Anyone who comes across it won’t know of my last-second whirlwind of typing just moments before I had to go under the drill and will assume it’s my best work.

Then I got another e-mail from another project manager wanting the current draft of a sadly unfinished document to send to an important company, and they needed it right that very minute.


So, off went my half-assed draft to a major client as another example of my best work.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should stop worrying about a raise and just hope I don’t get fired.

It was all just too much. My hemorrhaging savings account, my aching teeth, my crappy writing skills. I lost it. P. was very nice, and didn’t tell me I was a crazed lunatic or whining baby, and instead was very supportive and made me feel better, although I’m still feeling really crappy about the whole thing.

And I had to buck up and get back to work, although I couldn’t quite face going into the actual office, since the sniffling continued throughout the day. And now my tooth is throbbing in pain, and I feel really sick, so I don’t know if I can face the gym either. And all I really want to do is cry some more.

I guess I really jinxed myself when I told my therapist yesterday (the head one, not the physical one) that I was feeling really great and felt like I could manage anything that came my way. Because I’m pretty sure that wanting to run away and cry isn’t the coping mechanism she was thinking of.

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