This just in: Root canals may be good for your creativity

I’m starting to believe root canals have their benefits if maybe you’re a creative person. I’m starting to believe this because I’m trying to find a bright side. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve endured yet another one, and it got me thinking about pain and what in this world I can do about it.

A little over a year ago I had the root canal that gives root canals a bad name. It started a few years earlier than that with a “root canal” that I had with a different dentist that had been done very incompletely. He didn’t bother digging into the root that was curved (he didn’t want to bother, I guess) and he didn’t dig all the way to the end of one of the roots where he did bother (he must have been thinking along the lines of “good enough”). The only reason we discovered the problem was because the cap that he put on fell off one day while I was eating a salad.

A very good argument against eating more salads, I’m thinking.

My regular dentist thought the root canal I needed would be better off being done by a root canal specialist. Cause, you know, it was going to be a tough one. I didn’t even realize those people actually existed.

My zombie tooth

I went in with a positive attitude. They projected the image of my injured tooth right on the screen in front of me, and I took a picture of it when they were out of the room. I called it my zombie tooth.

The rubber mouth thingy

When it came time for the actual root canal, the first thing that got me going was the rubber contraption they attached in my mouth. I’m not sure if claustrophobic would be the feeling, but I never, ever want to have one of those in my mouth again. Ever. I spent the hour of the first visit while he was working on my tooth trying to convince myself that I could still swallow and he really wasn’t trying to suffocate me. Yeah. A little panicky. Then I spent the hour of my second visit doing the same thing. Then I figured out that stress excites my bladder and before I left the dentist’s office (on both visits), I had the longest bathroom break of my entire life. I’m not kidding.

As it turns out, the actual root canal was just the beginning.

Twenty-four hours later, almost to the minute, the pain kicked in. The prescription for pain killers did next to nothing. Also, my face swelled up like somebody beat me up. And really, they did.

Here’s the thing, though. The pain was pretty much unbearable, but look at where it took me: zombies, claustrophobia, suffocation and headaches. So I sat down and wrote, and I let my imagination take the story where it wanted to go. I wrote about how it felt like something was trying to break out of my head. I wrote from the perspective of the thing trying to break out. I combined the two and edited and rewrote.

Then I included the story in the Twisted book. It’s called “Headache,” and it made me feel better after I wrote it. And it all started with a common dental procedure.

The zombie part didn’t make it in to the story. Maybe Vol. 2.