I woke up this morning and before getting into my daily routine, I gave my dog a Valentine’s kiss.  As I prodded along with my mundane duties, I wondered if the day had anything in store for me.  Would anyone think I was special enough to reach out and say so?  We’ll see.  As the morning progressed I was haunted by a nagging toothache that has been with me off and on for many months.  It comes, it goes and it seems I only think of it when it’s arguing with me, then when it leaves, I forget about it.  Today it was particularly stubborn and instead of going away, it was getting worse.  Of course my dentist’s words ring in the back of my head “you really need to get that taken care of before it gets too bad”… yeah, yeah.  This is a cavity that was filled when I was a child and has cracked over the years.  Every now and then with either pressure or food, it acts up.  I was convinced it would just continue to go away.  Today, I was wrong.

Within 30 minutes of getting up, I was out of my mind with pain.  I put an emergency call into my dentist (hating that he was right) and left a message with the answering service that this was an emergency and I needed to be seen now.  Yeah, I’m pushy.  I get a call back from the Dr. who knew exactly which tooth I was talking about.  He gave me a referral, an appointment and a lecture.  I had a Root Canal in my immediate future and he decided to poke gently because of the serious pain taking over my mouth. I’m sure there’s a huge “I told you so” lecture coming my way soon.  Root Canals are the worst of the worst in dental procedures.  They are painful, long and then painful again.  Happy Valentine’s Day to me, I’m celebrating by having a Root Canal.  Crap.

I’ve never heard of or been to this specialist before, and I’m not really in the mood for anything new.  In spite of my bitchy self, I’m greeted by the most pleasant receptionist ever.  I wanted to scream, but she’d done this before and knew exactly how to handle someone in my predicament.  I filled out the paperwork and sat down, eyes closed in so much pain.  What unfolded next is nothing short of a miracle.

I started looking around the waiting room.  It was different, not cold, over-bright and uncomfortable, but warm low lighting with a coconut aroma.  The large palm tree was still decorated with soft mini lights intertwined.  One wall had an ocean mural where the other one had a beach mural.    The coffee table was a converted lobster trap and all the magazines were of beach houses around the world.  Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley crooned softly in the background with steel drums taking me straight to the islands in my mind.  It was awesome and the tropical atmosphere was working on me.  I felt good, in spite of the pain.  I almost forgot I was there for a Root Canal.  Seagulls hung from the ceiling and in the corner was a basket of beach balls.  I was totally at ease.  As I looked at the receptionist again, I noticed she was wearing a fake flower in her pony-tail and she was tanned.  I was escorted to a room that mirrored the waiting room except this room had a window with painted shutters on either side. 

When the specialist came in she told me all my x-rays had been sent over and she would have me out of there in about an hour.  I commented on the theme and the hospitality of her staff.  She was very proud to explain since all her patients arrive in excruciating pain, she wanted to make the stay as pleasant and easy as possible.  Since her staff was made up of all women, she said it just came natural to everyone.  I was so impressed. 

I told her how I was ready to rip someone apart when I arrived because of the level of pain and before I even left the waiting room, I was completely at ease.  She smiled and said that’s exactly what she was going for when she designed the place.

All in all, it’s not a bad Valentine’s Day after all.  Numbness is gone and swelling is down.  Steel drums still playing in my head.

Well done sister, well done.

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