The Dentist

Or how to pull some serious smack out of your own body – no drug pushers required
Lisa Welch

I believe there is a lesson to be learned each day. Today’s lesson was one of those “hard knocks” kinds of lessons involving my dentist and a fascinating discovery about my metabolic rate as an endurance athlete.

The quick version: do NOT, repeat……….do NOT go to see your dentist the week after a long endurance race if your visit in any way, shape or form involves Novocain – triathlon, marathon, ultra, whatever.

As athletes we are agonizingly aware of the increased metabolic functioning brought on by distance training and especially racing where maximum output is demanded of our bodies and super-charged adrenalin driven systems go into hyperspace and we are able to pull off incredible feats of athletic prowess (well…ok..on a good day…).

Having previously discovered that possession of a high metabolic rate translates into a short shelf life for Novocain in my body, today I managed to impress (maybe slightly freak out) even my dentist with my super-charged, post long-course Wildflower metabolism by burning through 4 vials of Novocain in the span of maybe 1 hour and sending my entire body into wild, uncontrollable, muscle spasms for almost 2 hours – all this for one minor fix of a filling.

You know what I’m talking about with the super-charged metabolism thing….voraciously hungry the whole week post-race, night sweats from an inferno furnace desperately trying to burn through calories to repair damaged muscles and replace depleted energy stores, slightly disturbed sleep patterns and thought processes (or is that only me??)…

Back to my office visit… typical dental visit: walk in, sit down, get juiced up with Novocain, wait for it to take effect, read a book or magazine while the dentist leaves to attend to other patients as you slowly numb up. Come back, start drilling, procedure completed, bye-bye. So this morning, I get injected, read some work related materials (after all, this is a work day and I might as well use my time away from the office towards the greater good of the company) “The Chasm Companion” (high tech marketing doctrine which will now forever be known to me as “The Spasm Companion” as this poor book sat on my lap being white knuckled as muscles spasms racked my body (I’m getting to that part!!!!)). My dentist comes back to me at which point I clue him into the 411 that my mouth is not numb anymore. Translation: “Don’t you DARE start drillin’ til you give me some more meds!” “Oh right,” he recalls, “The super metabolism woman.” Shoots me up again and starts to work. During the setup for the filling Novocain wears off a second time and I’m subject to the pain of metal objects digging up into my gums. Shoots me up again. Drilling starts. Drill. Water. Air. Mirror. Drill. Water. Air. Drill. Water …………. Aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhh! That GD freezing cold shot of water directly into an un-Novacained tooth nerve… I ’bout jump out of the chair and reel myself back from a knee-jerk sucker punch aimed at his head. Novocain? Gone! “Sorry sorry sorry!” A bit worried possibly, he shoots me up again. By this time it’s too late – his already “off the leash” morning has taken a turn for the worse with this nightmare of a patient who can’t hold down her Novocain.

(Intermission: Clarification at this point, that my dentist is quite excellent and I have no qualms about his work or doubt his abilities or talents – in fact, have total confidence in him…it just happened to be a bad day for me to deal with Novacain.)

What first started from his point of view as “wow, how impressive to run such a race” quickly I am sure, turned to “what a pain in the ass!” And my body’s reaction to having an exposed nerve hit is (as he put it) “fight or flight mode” from a systems flooding adrenalin release. First the legs started twitching, then spasming then the whole body got involved, shaking uncontrollably, heart rate jumped through the roof, breathing rate increased and I felt a panic attack coming on with all these dental devices jammed in my mouth and both my dentist and myself knowing the clock is ticking on the Novocain and we’ve got to get this done, done right and done quick – pain or no pain.

Dig deep, girl! You have uncanny abilities over control of your body and muscles and cardio-vascular system….use them…focus. Panic quelled but I couldn’t stop the spasms…in fact they didn’t stop for almost an hour after leaving the office. So it became a contest of keeping my head still while the rest of my body convulsed….weak, muscle-torn, post-race legs got to the point of cramping (nice). “I’ve heard about this at dental school and have seen it occasionally….” Yeah, but like this????! I left the chair wild-eyed and shaking, making him promise to warn his athlete patients not to schedule appointments anywhere even remotely near the radar screen of post-race or training high metabolism zones. His assistant leaned over, gave me a sideways glance and commented guardedly that I had gone through “4 vials of Novocain”. She seemed somewhat impressed (or maybe it was appalled). I hope at the very least to have made it an interesting morning for them and given them something to gossip about the rest of the day.

I’ve finally stopped shaking. I did not do my scheduled 30 min recovery run at lunch as my legs feel like I just put in at least 10 miles and I’m drained.

Wonder if he’ll cancel my follow-up visit….

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