Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Gold Skirt Festive, Dentally . . .


If I show you one more Festive-Casual outfit, may I tell you a funny/silly story about myself?
First, the outfit, a black Sarah Pacini turtleneck, about 5 years old, still a favourite, worn with my chunky chocolate gold beads from Birks, a gift from Pater a few years ago, worn with the gold silk/cotton satin skirt(Club Monaco) I picked up at the same great little local consignment that brought me pink sequinned cashmere.
Top (well, bottom, I guess) the whole thing with black tights and a pair of party shoes (these black patent beauties by FranceMode have a very cool sculptural heel that makes them very comfortably solid.

I'd say the outfit is great for a post-shopping date with my husband or for a "close the office doors; we've switched to party mode" 4-6 Seasonal Shindig at work. . . .Or, really, any number of just festive enough events.

But sometimes, even through my regular 9 to 5 day, in the gloomy months which weigh on us here on the Coast, November through February, I like to spark up some spirit, and sometimes it only takes a bit of shine to help me "fake it 'til I make it." This outfit works well for that purpose when I switch the shoes out for flats (albeit, here, more shine in the black patents from J Crew).

And now here comes the funny/silly story about me. Somehow, anxious as I was about heading to my dentist for a root canal yesterday, I decided it was a "Fake the Shine to Make the Shine" day. I'd put this post's photos together earlier, so this outfit was front of mind. Yes, I realized it might be a bit much for lying on that chair, tipped back under those lights, arms trying not to grip the armrest too fiercely, but I threw a taupe cashmere cardi over it all (worn, missing a few buttons, so toning down the dressy deliberately, while gaining the comfort-stroke factor) and I subbed a pair of knee-high boots to chill it out even more while warming me up (we had a few degrees of frost yesterday).

I suspect at some level I was hoping the outfit might work the way dressing up occasionally does at the airport, throwing an upgrade my way (although I've only ever seen these happen to others; I'm still waiting). I know it's magical thinking, but I might have thought the dentist and staff would have appreciated my festive effort and made my day match it.

So how disappointed was I when, after the horrific chuntering away that it took to cut my gold crown off, the underlying tooth was quickly revealed not to have the integrity to withstand a root canal and still receive a new crown that would hold.

Um, disappointed is an understatement. As I took in the news (not completely unexpected -- it had been mentioned as a possibility) that the tooth would have to be extracted, that -- at an expense little covered by my plan -- the best option would be packing the extraction space with material for a bone graft, then waiting several months before inserting an implant, I was dismayed to find tears burning my eyes. Damn tears! And I have to insist that I'm not a baby at all about the dentist. I'm pretty stoic and I guess I pride myself on being a trooper despite my anxieties. Yet those tears continued to trickle beneath the dentist-supplied dark glasses as I tried to remember to breathe deep belly breaths while my molar got dissected and extracted.

Three things kept me centered and stopped me from surrendering to outright sobs:
1. Nola had instructed me, a few weeks ago, that instead of calling something (a baking mistake I'd made) Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, I should "Stop, Nana. Take a deep belly breath. Name your feeling." Every time, in that chair yesterday, that I pictured her little face giving me such useful advice, I smiled inside, and I took that breath, and I said to myself "I'm a bit afraid, although I know Rob (my dentist) isn't going to hurt me. And I'm also sad that I'm losing a tooth."
2. I kept thinking about my Dad, somewhere between 15 when he went to sea with the British Merchant Marines, and 25 when he signed off to marry my mom in Canada. . . .at one point, home in England on shore leave after having suffered tooth-aches while out on the ship for weeks, he decided to solve the problem decisively. Yes, he did, every one of his teeth extracted. From what I remember of the story he told, they were all taken in one day. And I'm pretty damn sure his dentist's techniques were seriously different from mine.
3. And finally, I kept going back to this lovely, lovely moment I had with my Mom, two days before we moved her to hospice, 5 or 6 days before she died. I'd crawled into the narrow bed with her after she had her morning sips of tea, and just stroked her and held her hand. She kept telling me I was her beautiful baby and she loved me, and somehow (after most of a lifetime of maintaining an emotional wall between us, based on my perception of her neediness), I was moved to let myself be that baby. I nosed myself to her nose, a little game of nosey-nosey, a toddler's kiss we know in our family, and perhaps you know in yours. The velvety texture is a cellular memory, an internal happy place, and while part of the tears for the loss of my tooth were also for the year's heavier losses (my dear mother, my father-in-law, my family-in-law rift), I fought them back by remembering what was left.

Oh, and one last thing helped me smarten up, suck back the tears. I remembered this guy, and all those legions who can't afford any kind of dental care. I know how lucky I am. . . .

Still, you can believe I did me some wallowing after I got home with a stash of prescriptions yesterday.  So far, though, there's no swelling nor bruising (I've been ice-ing carefully) -- I do sometimes think this is a benefit of being alert (no Ativan, no sedative at all pre or during or after), as I've heard of people who "go under" for dental surgery getting pretty bashed up. . . but I also know Rob was being really careful to leave the bone in good shape so that it will eventually welcome and nurture the implant.

Today, Pater's hurried over to Vancouver to baby-sit Harriet. I, unfortunately, have to head to campus because I stupidly forgot to bring home some texts I need for a time-sensitive task that can't be delayed. But then I'm hanging by the fire and may even put on a Christmas tune or two. And I'm picking up some ready-made eggnog as a treat, since I'm on a liquids-only diet.

So what do you think? Is that the silliest reason you've ever heard for wearing Festive-Casual on a weekday, during the day?
What do you do to get you through the tough stuff? How do you gird your loins, soldier up, get the Big Girl Panties on?
And what would you wear this outfit to, and which shoes or jewelry would you pull from your closet to transform it? (or I'll lend mine, if you'd like ;-)

33 comments:

  1. I had to have one of my molars out and I am a gagger. I use yoga breaths and the fact that when I was young, I had a crush on my current dentist. He's a bit older. If I feel like I am going to need extra courage, I do choose my clothing with care. I like your outfit. I have a pair of taupe and gold pointy sling backs that would go nicely your skirt and beads. I would wear your outfit to an Advent carol service that I am attending or to an open house.

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    1. Cute! A crush on the dentist (even an old crush) is a great distraction. Those slingbacks will be perfect with the outfit -- you can borrow my beads as long as you promise to sing loudly and beautifully. . . ;-)

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  2. Mater,
    I feel for your pain in the valley of dental woes. I have had several root canals and was grateful for each of them as they ended the serious misery of toothache. Several years ago my husband had some dental problems in a molar in the side of his mouth and an implant was suggested. Prior to booking the implant surgery the dentist insisted that husband to to a specialist who measured the dimensions of his jaw bone and take some fancy pants x-rays. Turned out not everyone is a candidate for implants; his jawbone was not thick enough and a nerve in the area had a significant chance of being damaged. The end result would have been partial facial paralysis .... he has a removable bridge which has not given him a moment's discomfort, cost about a fifth of the implant cost and looks like a natural tooth. I don't want to alarm you, but it is good to be cautious. Kris

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    1. Thanks for the caution, Kris. Luckily, I've got a great dentist, very experienced with implants and very keen on staying up with the field. He's been my dentist for almost 25 years now (and, luckily, he's at least a decade younger and loves his work so will continue to be my dentist for some time). We'll have a good chat on Friday about the next stage, but in the end I'll be comfortable trusting his judgement.

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  3. No. I think that's one of the best possible reasons for a little lamé. And your moment with your mother - ah. Lovely.

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    1. Lamé would be even more festive! My skirt is just a slightly matte gold satin (satin and matte, can that even be?). . . And thanks for commenting on the moment with my Mom. It's such a treasure of a memory.

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  4. I don't think there's ever a silly reason to bump up the festive a notch to give ourselves a lift. And a potentially exhausting visit to the dentist is one of them. That Nola, so very wise. :-) Just a word of reassurance (hopefully) I had a dental implant done last year after an extraction and it was a piece of cake. Local only, less time in the chair than a filling.

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    1. Thanks for the reassurance, Sue. I talked to someone this morning on the ferry who's had hers for ten years -- and she said exactly the same thing: easier than a filling!
      Isn't Nola wise? That's what they're learning at kindergarten these days! Her teacher uses a program that helps kids to learn self-regulation by tapping into the power of their mind.

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  5. Oh, your poor thing! How awful to steel yourself for the root canal only to lose the tooth and have the prospect of further work. I'll take that as a prompt to go and get my LONG overdue filling done ...

    I think dressing up to deal with things is an excellent strategy. That, and the yoga breathing Madame La-bas mentions.

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    1. Your sympathy hits just the right note -- I'm lapping it up. It really did feel awful to have to switch myself midway and deal with something as big as losing a tooth. Yes, get that filling done. . . there's just always something else to do, though, isn't there?

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  6. Dressing up for something hard is a way of putting on armor. Self-defense. I think that the mouth is such a sensitive and vulnerable part of our bodies - we kiss, we eat, we communicate with it - all these activities that allow us to live fully. To entrust its care to someone else takes guts. I sometimes wonder if all dentists and hygienists know this.

    Love sweet Nola's advice and the tender memory of you and your mother.

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    1. It's true -- the mouth just feels so much me, where I meet the world so fully, where so much trust is required. I like to think my dental carers do know this, but they do have to move from room to room, chair to chair, and sometimes efficiency trumps. . . Isn't it sweet, Nola's advice. And ah, mom. . .

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  7. Dressing up is perfect in these situations. I had major foot surgery last week (poor timing in the midst of final classes and exams) and the worst thing was the awful hospital gown -- no armor at all. I got home and put on my prettiest robe and some sparkly earrings, which felt much better. Love the advice from Nola and the memories of your mother. I also applaud taking a break for yourself. Sometimes those of us who are lucky enough to teach and have families feel as if we have to do everything, especially in December!

    Lynn

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    1. Yikes! I can't remember what your climate is, but even in pleasant weather, foot surgery and its aftermath are a horrid nuisance. And the hospital gown -- insult to injury. Glad your pretty clothes got you back in a spirit more suited to the season (although end of term always complicates that anyway, doesn't it?!) I did take a break today by the fire, my book, my knitting, a few episodes of the latest series. . . and I still managed to get some papers marked.

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  8. I'm sorry, I'm going to need a couple of your painkillers after reading this post!!

    Well done you for getting through it the best way you know how; and you are lucky to have such trust in your dentist, to have known him for so long. Hope you're able to get through the next days without too much discomfort.

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    1. Ha! There seem to be plenty to spare -- I'm trying to figure out how and why to juggle the heavy-dose Ibuprofen and the Tylenol/Codeine mix which my body always ends up disliking vehemently by Day Two. But it all seems to be doing the trick, and so far, no swelling, no real pain, although I haven't got in there to brush yet. I am really lucky overall, and especially in having a dentist I trust, who knows and -- I believe -- likes me and wants the best for me. Such a blessing, really.

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  9. Aaah... so sorry to hear about your dental disappointment. It's terrible when you prepare for something (even if it's a root canal - awful to begin with) and it turns out to be something worse. I've been crying at the dentist for the past few sessions, and it's embarrassing, but I just can't help myself. It's not so much the pain as losing a part of me and having to make these irreversible changes. I wish teeth grew back!

    Lame is very much justified!

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    1. I'm glad you understand and thanks for the empathy/sympathy -- I was truly startled to find myself in tears, but you're right, it's not the pain or even the discomfort of the procedure. It's losing part of me and then all the resonances of past loss that speak up in recognition. . . Thank goodness for a bit of lustre, even if only sartorial! ;-)

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  10. Just think what might have happened had you NOT been wearing your wonderful clothes. As it stands, you can be repaired. But in another universe, in a crappy outfit, who knows?!!! Once a new dentist tried to tell me my jaw was melting, or some such baloney, and said it would ONLY cost $3,000 to fix it (all untrue of course). I cried, yes I did, and mumbled, "That's the price of an old car!"
    I wore my outfit armour the other day too. It helped IMMENSELY.

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    1. That's true . . . I never thought of that, but yes, he could have discovered that the infection had spread and nearby tooth had to be root-canaled and on and on. . . I once blurted out to the lovely SA at Eyes on Burrard that my glasses cost more than at least 4 cars I'd owned. I think she wasn't sure to make of what I'd been driving. But it was true!

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  11. Nola's advice - so sweet!
    I'm sending big SYMPATHY for your ordeal. Logic tells us that all will be well in the end, but in the thick of it all it is so hard to be logical. I think I'd have had tears too.
    Yes, I'd have dressed for the ordeal too. I often do that - choose clothes that will 'hold me up' through a difficult day.

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    1. Isn't it charming advice? I'm so pleased and impressed that little ones are being taught these ever-so-useful skills around regulating powerful emotions.
      Glad to hear I'm not the only one who dresses for ordeals. Besides just holding me up, I got some pleasure from stroking the cashmere during . . . and knowing that from the other side of the chair, they could at least see that the weeping lady was well dressed! ;-)

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  12. Oh that sucks! So sorry about your tooth! I'd cry too!

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    1. Hope you never have to! Thanks for the sympathy.

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  13. This is a beautiful post. Made me a bit teary.

    I've also gone through the exact same dental procedure/disappointment. (I was wearing jeans and a Gap hoodie, your outfit is strides ahead!)

    (Nice to meet you via the talented WendyB!)

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    1. There's much to be said, mine you, for the comforts of jeans and a well-worn hoodie. And it's lovely to meet you as well -- yes, that WendyB is wonderfully talented -- as are you. Love your photographs, just love them!

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  14. Between your wise granddaughter, trusted dentist, festive "armor" and lovely memories you should be more than equipped to deal with the next round of decisions and dental work. Over the years I have made a habit of dressing above my mood in hopes of raising it past a situation that would/could be stressful or overwhelming and it works for me!
    (I'd share my story about tears in the dentist chair but it can never be told succinctly - a definite drawback when typing a reply... )

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    1. Yes, I've been well equipped indeed -- and, of course, every time one gets through an ordeal, one learns that ordeals can be managed, even survived. I often tell my students to "trust to process" and to tap into their previous experiences of process -- frustrations and pain do yield, most often, to better times, to worthwhile outcomes. I try to apply this to life as well. Sometimes it works.
      Yes, dressing above one's mood -- that's a good way of putting it -- and then we try to live up to that suggestion.
      And if you ever feel like trying to tell that story in a post, I'll be reading!

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  15. We often forget that at a certain level, dentistry is surgery, and as such is traumatic both physically and emotionally. Grateful you have Rob, with whom you have a good relationship. Every time I go, I think, "Thank god for modern dentistry." My dad, same as yours, had all his teeth out in a day, as soon as he was home from WWII. He did not want my mother to see him without teeth, so teeth out and dentures in, same day. Must have been extremely painful.

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    1. Exactly. Surgery is trauma, almost by definition. And having a gold crown cut off a tooth while both are inside your own mouth -- ay-ay-ay. . . And then the tooth cut apart and pulled off, the damaged bone, the grafting materials, and all the meds after! Still, absolutely pales in comparison to what our fathers did. Just can't imagine the pain!

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  16. Oh and i meant to say, That Nola! What a little soul.

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  17. Mater, I'm sorry to hear about your tooth :(. Dental woes are the worst.

    I've never heard of the phrase "Fake the Shine to Make the Shine" but I like it!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we?

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