Saturday, February 26, 2011


They'd lost my form and I was running short on patience so I got them to make me another. 

The dentist sits, pen poised. She reminds me of someone I know, it's a little bit of her features and a little bit of her disposition (and some sense of loss on my side too, I suppose), and these things mix and heighten the effect. She asks me questions, and I answer. I wonder dully if it's a relative of the person I know, the resemblance, though faint, is strange...disorienting. What is my education? A levels, I say. She looks over at the options, and encircles 'M', I think. They don't have A levels as an option, so she encircled the next-best-thing. Extractions? Yes. Four. Do you have any of these diseases? No, no, no. Anaemia, that's all. Medication? ...not really... she looks up at me, instinctively curious. I take caffeine... Pills? No, just coffee. For headaches. We move on to family history. I'm uncomfortable telling all these things to a person I've just met. A sense of exposure nags, akin to the kind described in Kundera's Immortality. Doctors. They hold your life history in their hands in a way. Things you'd never tell your friends  either deliberately or just because you have no need to tell them — are   things that your doctors know. Ever been hospitalized? Twice, when I was five. Typhoid

These seem like small beans but through them the pattern of your life can be traced. It's scary, and it's in their hands. You may not tell your lover this, the fact that the most excruciatingly painful moment of your life was spent on a dentist chair as they pulled your teeth out with inadequate anaesthesia, but the dentist who fucked up will. Things you don't want to talk about, failings of your body, a list of times you almost died — all written neatly in your medical history files, possibly revealed when you gain fame (in life, or through a gristly death) — imagine the horror! Everyone gets to know. They know you had ear problems as a kid. They know that once your braces had to be taken out, mid-treatment, so you could get an MRI done. They know that you're fucked in a uniquely special, untreatable way. Small beans, but these are your moments of crisis, and some bored doctor who seems to be perpetually pissed off gets to know all about them as you answer, unwilling to tell, unable to withhold.

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