Friday, October 21, 2005

World's Worst Dental Patient--Part 1

Hey, BGs, thanks so much for all your ideas! You folks are a plethora of productivity. I actually think I shall use them all. Keep you on your toes wondering what’s coming next. Might post for days in a row, then . . . not. For a day or two anyway.

Becky brought up marketing as it pertains to my blog, and that’s a very good point. Originally, I started blogging ’cause my editor told me I should. Great way to connect with your readers, she said. At first I figured writers and my readers were coming around. (Granted, there’s crossover there.) But after the NES was done in June, the discussion turned to the how-tos of writing, and so while I think more writers have come, my readers who aren’t writers may have less reason to keep coming back. So I do have to start talking to those folks, too.

I’d still like y’all to leave questions regarding writing whenever you’d like, whether on topic or not. I don’t mind answering questions, and it gives me a topic to write to. Between the questions, I shall post about . . . what I shall post about. ValMarie, you left a good question yesterday about writing back cover copy. I will answer that soon.

By the way, Janet—you mentioned Canada. Yup. A market to work on. One I just talked to my agent about.

Today, I shall begin a story, continued on Monday. You see, this afternoon, I had a difficult appointment. I had to go to the dentist.

I am the world’s worst dental patient.

It was just for a check-up, mind you. Doesn’t matter. I so much as hear the Big D (drill, if you have to ask) while I’m in the waiting room, and I start to shake.

There is this strange side that comes out of me whenever I’m nervous at a medical appointment. I turn into a stand-up comic. With a sarcastic edge. I mean, the stuff just rattles out of my mouth. You’d never guess, meeting me at such a time, that I’m really a nice person. The docs give me these pained smiles and somehow put up with my shenanigans. Their nurses and assistants flat out don’t know what to do with me.

Well, some don’t.

Today, the dental hygienist sees me first. She gets to do the preliminary fun work like poke at my gums, scrape down my teeth, floss and polish. She settles me in the chair, snaps the paper towel thingy around my neck to catch drool (which in my case is highly likely), and smiles brightly like some counselor on welcoming day at scout camp. “How would you like to take some X-rays?”

I give her a you-gotta-be-nuts look. “I would absolutely looove to.”

Her smile slips a little. “Well, we don’t have to if you’d rather not, but it does help with the diagnosis. Sometimes cavities can only be seen with an X-ray.”

Cavities? Cavities mean the Big D. Big D very, very bad. Turn macho Brandilyn into Jello. I look Miss Hygie in the eye. “I can’t imagine a better reason to tell you no.”

She turns her back on me, leaning over my chart. “You haven’t had them for two years.”

“Two years? Can’t possibly be that long.”

“It’s true.” She raises her eyebrows at me. “And you really want us to do all we can to diagnose you properly, don’t you? Otherwise, we could miss something. Then just imagine how much worse your next visit could be.”

We lock eyes. She maintains a perfectly pleasant look on her face, but I am suddenly wary. This woman’s a formidable foe. She’s honed onto my fear spot like some heat-seeking missile. If I don’t get those X-rays now, I could spend long months worrying about what could have been found. By the time my next dentist appointment rolls around, I’ll be blathering pure inanity.

She flashes an encouraging grin. “They don’t hurt, you know.”

I flick a look at the ceiling. “Like heck they don’t hurt. About eight different times, you stand this sharp slide on its end in my mouth, tell me to bite down on it, then you disappear. By the time the machine goes Bzzzt and you return, the thing’s stuck in the top of my mouth so deep, I’m thinkin’ it’s gonna come out my nose.”

She blinks. “Tell you what, we’ll just take four. The quadrants.”

This lady oughtta be in sales.

In spite of myself, I consider the compromise. If I don’t do the X-rays, I’m going to hate myself in the morning. If I do take them, and they show something awful, I’m really going to hate myself. However, the latter choice is prudent. And even a sarcastic stand-up comic understands the power of prudence once in a while.

I take the X-rays.

On to the poking and scraping of teeth by Miss Hygie. I endure this, thinking of those X-rays, sitting there like ticking time bombs. Waiting for the doc to walk into the room and make his pronouncement.

Something tells me I am doomed.

Read Part 2


Anonymous said...

I've been away for a few days and just came back to catch up. What a nice surprise to see that you had brought in Mr. Whalin to answer my question! Thank you very much for doing that. I appreciate the info and your willingness to help a fledgling writer.

I'm also glad to see that you are going to keep blogging here. I love reading your posts!
Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

When you get a chance, BC, how about releasing some of the details of that 16-page editorial review you told us about a few days back. OK, a LOT of details. I think that would be an incredible insight to those of us struggling to meet editor's expectations.


C.J. Darlington said...

Ooh, a story! Excellent. Only you can make a visit to the dentist office suspensefull ... :-)

Mary DeMuth said...

I have a story too, though it involves a French dentist and a busted tooth. If you're curious, you can read it here:

I sure hope your story has a happy ending!!!!!

Stuart said...


er.. yeah. I had a rather ick discovery after going into a dentist unsuspecting... and letting them take all those xrays...

*cowers in the corner whimpering*

hmmm yesss... details on the editors letter. what a wonderful idea. :D

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Sally Apokedak just started a blog with the "short" principle I was trying to explain yesterday. The link to her children's lit blog is

Anne Mateer said...

Been reading since MH, but haven't commented yet. You are a great writing teacher, but you are a wonderful storyteller! I've learned alot in the past few months, but I'm glad we're back to a story.

Pammer said...

ACK! I now have all weekend to wonder if I should cancel my dental appointment or not.
Did you leave your kids hanging like this when they were little? JK

I'm glad you are going to keep blogging. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted you to know I'm a huge fan of your blog, and I've been lurking around here since February without ever making a peep. I'm sure there are lots more like me. (P.S. - I'm a Canadian, and I checked my local library and Christian bookstore, and I found your books both places.)

Karen Eve said...

Oh BC, please don't say the 'd' word. There is nothing (except bees) that brings up more fear for me. I can hear that loud whine now and feel the novacaine, that makes every part of my mouth numb except the target. Give me snakes, spiders, bikers, anything but the 'd'.
Running and screaming into hiding...

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Sorry, I can't relate to the pain, I've got really hard teeth. I've only had two cavities in my life. BUT, the story is great. You missed your calling as a comedy writer. Suspenseful too, I can't wait for Monday to see how it comes out. This is like one of those serial movies we used to go to on Saturday. We had to wait breathlessly till the following week to get the end!

Gina Conroy said...

Bonnie, I got you beat on the NO cavity thing. I never had any, so I can't relate to the "D" word.

Brandilyn, I can't wait to see how this story plays out. I hope it has a happy ending.

Anonymous said...


Whether your posting pearls on writing or telling stories, I love checking the blog. Sometimes I learn as much from reading the stories as I do the how-to suggestions. Thanks again for doing this. I've learned so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to have had to submerge to lurker status since my life got tossed around a bit in July. Between emotional upheaval and tired eyes after a full day at the office computer, I've been printing off your blog and reading them on weekends. Comments in my head arent' quite the same!

I admire and appreciate the effort you've put into this blog. In response to yesterday's blog, my thoughts echo those of CJ, Becky, Pammer about your community here, writing as your time allows, and wondering how your readership and resonse is compared to when you began. I'm glad you answered that today. As a writer-attempting-to-be I've gained valuable knowledge and insight into honing my skill. As a reader, I appreciate the personal connection an author brings on his/her website/blog, even if it's small things like Becky talked about.

And as a Canadian, I'm glad you're thinking about us! The only book I've read of yours is Stain of Guilt from my church library -- the only book they have of yours. I'll have to bug my librarian. I've been checking out your website/blog ever since.

Emily Arseneau