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Monday, January 9, 2012

Zen and the Art of Tooth Extraction

Val's Purple Spiral
Credit: Sharon L Richardson - All rights reserved
Used with permission
Here I am in my sixties, finally getting two wisdom teeth pulled. I never really got into Zen, but I do meditate regularly. Turns out that routine practice is mighty handy today.

The entire procedure should take less than thirty minutes, but the surgeon wants me to arrive heavily doped with Valium. The pharmacist had a trace of alarm in his voice when he saw the dosage, a faux pas he covered quickly, but not before raising the already considerable anxiety I felt about taking these drugs to a whole new level, miles high.

The surgeon wants a calm, relaxed patient. If I'm passing out in his chair, I'll be outwardly calm, meeting his need, but I know from past experience that my brain and my body will be doing everything on the inside to counteract the effects of the drug. Very likely, I'll have a panic attack I cannot control with meditative focus or breathing. Fight or flight syndrome will rage through my mostly paralyzed body. I've actually considered cancelling the procedure rather than face that chemically induced fear.

I'm not too keen, either, on slamming pain killers afterward into my already heavily drugged body, along with the antibiotics I have to take.

Here's where routine meditation practice comes to the rescue. The past few days, I meditated more than usual. It helped me stay in a soft place, especially the walking meditation. Whenever I thought about the drugs, however, my anxiety spiked. My heart rate and breathing accelerated. I felt clammy.

This morning, during my routine waking meditation, I realized that I would be far more calm in the dental chair if I did not take the Valium. Years of practice lend the tools to be calm and responsive to the surgeon's needs without forcing myself into a crazy, drugged stupor that, paradoxically, has the opposite effect. Plus, I will eliminate one powerful drug from my body, leaving more energy for healing the wounds.

In a few hours, I will be home again, recovering, resting and giving my body what it needs to heal. I'm not keen on giving up a part of my body that has been with me all my life, but I understand this sacrifice will result in better quality of life for the remainder of my years, so I accept it. I accept, too,  that antibiotics and pain killers may be a necessary part of my recovery. Letting go of the idea of chemically tranquilizing myself, knowing it tends to have the opposite effect, I have never felt so calm going into a procedure like this.

I give gratitude to all my teachers over the years, human and Spirit.

Hmmm. I wonder how this would work next time I get my hair cut.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.


kario said...

Yay! I love that you listened to your own wisdom and didn't fall prey to doing what the person in authority wanted you to do. I hope it all worked out really well and you recover quickly and easily.

Dee said...

Dear Kathryn,
How wise of you to resist the voice of authority and to listen to your own body. I wish I listened more closely to mine and to my own intuitions. Maybe that's a resolution for 2012. I so hope that all went well and that your meditative practices kept you at peace and calm with the procedure.
Please let us know how everything went before, during, and after.


Sharon said...

You are often role model and wise one to me... this is just another example.

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