I’m absolutely terrified of the dentist. This is heart racing, jaw-clenching, anxiety-attack level fear. I usually deal with it by simply avoiding the dentist, which has wrecked havoc on my teeth. A few days ago, I cracked the temporary crown I haven’t been brave or wealthy enough to get a permanent on. With my pain levels rising, I finally called the first dentist who was open after work hours. I got lucky. They still use this miraculous substance called nitrous oxide. During my procedure, my brain went a lot of different places. Why does the English language insist we pet our pets? How many times can I use my new unicorn floaty in the lake this summer? How do celebrities keep from getting zits? When am I going to travel again?….
…and BOOM. My intoxicated, euphoric brain had hit upon a serious topic, which I was not in the right mental state for. That thought morphed into vivid memories of me traveling the globe when I was younger and more carefree. My recollections were so strong it was like reliving all the adventures. Then again, I was under the influence of a dissociative anaesthetic, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic.
Before my dentist appointment, I killed time by visiting a local gluten-free bakery for a pastry and coffee. The tables were full, so I braced for a chill and asked if I could share a table with two older women. I was relieved to find they were friendly and very chatty. I soon learned that neither of them is from Seattle. Go figure. Anyway, Rose* was a best friend and caregiver for her aunt Betty*, who was getting up there in years and needed a companion for her complex medical issues. Rose was a former travel agent, back when the profession was lucrative and in-demand. We shared travel stories from around the globe and it felt so good to remember who I used to be. I’ve faced some medical challenges myself and don’t feel as confident in my ability to travel. I told Rose I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to travel like I used to. I loved staying in hostels and immersing myself into different cultures. While I did do activity tours like scuba diving and horseback riding, I liked seeing some less touristy spots too. The logistics involved seemed more overwhelming to me now that I’m not 20 anymore. Rose smiled while Betty chimed in with what I needed to hear. They were getting ready to leave on an international cruise for 30 days. Betty then told me she is a dialysis patient and is able to do this because the ship has its own fully staffed dialysis unit. Rose explained that part of her job used to be navigating these challenges and helping people see the world. The two ladies had been on over 10 cruises together already and just kept coming back. As they were leaving, she told me never to give it up.
I was worried I might grow out of traveling one day. It had been a series of youthful escapades for me in the past. I might have to adjust my expectations, but I can still see the world. I haven’t grown out of my fear of the dentist, so I refuse to give up on traveling!
*names have been changed