The $84 Bag Of Popcorn

Do you like getting popcorn at the movies? I know, I know, I’m sure you are thinking right now like I normally do that the cost of getting one is way too pricey these days. But occasionally, I’m sure there are times you might splurge and get some like I did the other day. Unfortunately for me though, the medium sized bag I bought for $6.60 turned into a much more exorbitant one when all was said and done.

So what happened?

Well, it all began with me sitting contently in the back row of the theater happily chomping down on one mouthful after another of the salty and buttery stuff. As I waited for the trailers to end and the movie to start, I took another bite and suddenly noticed a piece of it get lodged up in between my upper left molars. How annoying I thought as I tried to get it out with no success. My teeth beginning to feel crammed in that area, as if I was back to wearing bracing again in my life.

I tried to do my best for the next two hours to ignore the pain, but if you’ve ever had anything get caught in between your teeth or gums, then you know how extremely hard it is to do that sometimes. By the time the credits rolled, I raced out of the theater and into my car, heading straight for the nearest Walgreens to buy a pack of dental floss.

After purchasing a nice new pack of Oral-B Glide, I then got into my car and moved it to another part of the parking that was empty so that no one would look at me strangely while I did the simple dental action. But like so many things that seem to happen in my life lately, it didn’t end up being that simple. After five minutes or so of using one strand of floss after another and watching my gums start bleeding everywhere in my mouth, I began to panic. Why? Because there’s still a part of me that’s dealing with hypochondria, which is a disease that’s run rampant in my family for generations back.

If you aren’t someone who understands hypochondria, then let me just say this. When a bout of it happens, it’s like the mind is no longer able to rationally process something that’s occurring in the body and instead goes to the worst-case scenario. Well that something for me in that very moment was my brain beginning to say that the crammed sensation was never going to go away and that the only way it would is if I went immediately to a dentist. Regrettably, I didn’t have a dentist yet in the Toledo area and actually had been putting it off for the past year and a half since moving here. In fact, the last time I had seen one was in the month just before I left Massachusetts and there had been given a clean bill of health.

So as I allowed my brain to keep increasing my level of fear, I sprinted down the road, heading straight for a dental office that I knew took my insurance in the area. I’m not sure I even paid attention to the traffic around me while heading there, because I had allowed the hypochondria-based fears at that point to completely take over. As soon as I found a parking spot when I arrived, I dashed in the front door and headed straight for the receptionist desk.

If you could only have seen me in that instant, you probably would have thought all my teeth were falling out, because that’s precisely the energy I portrayed to this woman trying to do her job. Much to the dismay of my ego, they were unable to see me, no matter how much I expressed drama about the level of my pain. The best they could do was schedule an appointment at 11am the next morning.

But for someone who has serious hypochondria issues going on in any given moment, waiting around for almost 24 hours to get relief is like being given a sentence to die. This is why I then chose to contact my partner and ask if he would call his dentist to get me a walk-in to rectify my dental dilemma. A few minutes later, my phone ran and he told me to get my butt over there. I instantly tore out of that dental office leaving my 11am intact for the next morning and headed down the street ignoring all signs of traffic. I almost crashed into a car in the process and by the time I sat down in this dentist’s chair, I was shaking because I had allowed this disease to grip me so greatly.

I should point out at this point that there was one thing I didn’t do when all of this was occurring and that was to pray to my Higher Power for help. Sadly, I still haven’t found much success in my life doing that when a bout of hypochondria-based fear hits me. The friendly hygienist noticed all this and did her best to calm me down by making small talk. The only thing I could think of though was to get that awful sensation out of my mouth and move on with my life.

Forty minutes later, my mouth was now numb, bloodier and still hurting. No particles of popcorn had been discovered, which then it was suggested I get some x-rays, and thus began a hypochondriac’s worst nightmare. Well this dental office was using old technology, and was able to only produce those small 1×2 inch printed x-rays that you have to hold up into the light to see. When the dentist came in and looked at both, he told me that I could possibly have nerve damage there, serious tooth decay, and the need for a root canal, a 10-day course of antibiotics, or quite possibly a full extraction.

Let me relieve any uncomfortability you might be having right now reading this and assure you that I needed none of this, but I wouldn’t find that out until the next day. When I left that office not too much longer after this, I was given the advice to get a second opinion before I did anything, which thank God I did. The next morning, after a very anxiety-ridden and relatively sleepless night, I went to that other dental office at 11am and had a full exam. And wouldn’t you know that every one of my digital x-rays they took were 100% normal and healthy. And wouldn’t you know that they were able to extract a very tiny piece of popcorn out of the now greatly affected area in my upper left molars. A few hours later that day, my mouth had returned to normal, the pain totally subsiding and my appetite fully returning. But what I was left with when all was said and done was an $84 bill and an extreme diagnosis that had sent my fears through the roof.

Living with hypochondria has proved to be very challenging for me over the years, as you can see how it was with this dental issue. In this case, the bag of popcorn turned into a nightmare and was definitely not worth it, but so was not praying or talking to God through any of it. Thus the next time something like this happens, I plan on immediately turning to my Higher Power and asking for help, because frankly, I might very well have avoided an $84 bag of popcorn and a hole bunch of stress….

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson