Let's start with a confession: I am afraid of a few things. Things like rats, snakes and I'm really, really afraid of the Dentist. That's funny 'cause I wake up next to a gal who trundles off to a Dentist's Office every morning and worse, discusses her day with me at days end. I shiver and quake through most of these chats and clearly see her subtle disfavour of my cowardice. To add insult to injury, a whole cast of her McGaw clan work in the field and LOVE to 'talk shop' at any and every family gathering.

This has been going on since I met Shelley McGaw almost 20 years ago. Dr. John McGaw, Shellley's brother is a Dentist... and a Hell of a nice guy. He's top of his game, plays with the most expensive and best toys (or implements of doom depending on your point of view) and runs a top shelf operation. I can imagine others in his field using his example of professionalism and dedication to spur on their own endeavors. Plus, and this is the best part – he's become a dear and valued friend.

On Sunday last, I broke a little chunk off a molar. I only have a few molars left and so I recognized that this would be a big deal... not the least of which would be the real world requirement of an actual in-person visit to Driftwood Dental here in Courtenay.

I grid my loins, stood steady into the wind, threw caution aside in true super-hero fashion and suggested, in a barely audible whisper to Shelley that a visit might be in order because of the broken tooth thing. She didn't even flinch. Hardly looked up; 'no problem', and she was onto other things.

I fret. I imagined. I worried. It was awful... like watching a horror movie unfold in front of me I would guess, although I can't watch horror movies 'cause I'm afraid of them too.

A whole day of worry, then a command performance at Driftwood Dental for a little exam to see what was needed. Y'know what was needed? A return visit – how unfair is that?

Over the years I've come to know most of the people at Driftwood Dental, not so much exact face to exact names every time - remember I'm afraid of the office and so despite my brave front, every single visit – even when there's no dentistry involved, causes me pause and uneasiness and that whole unsettled feeling and so remembering everyone's name becomes a bit of a blur, but mostly I know and, truth be told, like these men and women.

A date is set: afternoon of the next day. That's almost no time for me to prepare – no time to catch a terrible disease, no time to break the law and get thrown in jail, no time to arrange for a kidnapping! No time to weasel my way out of this catastrophic unfolding.  And so, the next day I show up on time, as required – it's the adult thing to do.

I'm greeted by Sarah – She's very nice and since we don't really know each other so well, she rises from her reception desks extends her hand, shakes mine and welcomes me. She says she's pleased to see me and that it'll be just a short wait. All friendly and nice. 

A few minutes pass and Jessica emerges and says that I'm to follow her... She's really nice too. Pretty as a picture and all sunny and chipper and calm – as though this is no big deal and people do this kind of thing all the time without incident and, it would seem, of their own free will! She chats about her day, and to make her feel like I'm a big boy and not at all freaked out, I ask her how long she's been at the practice? Of course I should already know this, but the whole exercise is, for me, at the top of the disorientation list. I get confused. “3 years here, 7 in the biz” she replies, and adds that she loves it at D D and that for her, it's the team of people that make it so rewarding. Cheerily she goes on; “Isn't that really the most important part of any job? The people you get to work with?”.

I pretend to be paying attention and agree. I hope my head is shaking in the right direction. She sees, but doesn't acknowledge that I'm just ever so slightly preoccupied. Furtively, and just in case the opportunity arises, I scan my surroundings for an escape, rehearse last minute excuses, check for unobstructed pathways for when I bolt. I check to see that I haven't wet myself.

There's a flurry of activity, friendly questions about my med history from the office R N, Anne-Marie McGaw - John's wife and she barely disapproves at all when she queries me about my lack of exercise. There's warm 'Hello's' from my nieces Michelle McGaw and Julie McGaw, both of whom contribute to the team at D D. Natalie passes by and gives me a warm and reassuring nod - I know she knows, she's had to deal with me before. Then there's the whole getting me settled routine conducted by Brandi which includes a brief chat about living in Cumberland and her showing off her fading tan-lines from her last vacation... and then, he arrives. That's right, it's him – he who shall poke about with silver hook-sticks and probe my mouth – MY MOUTH with mirror things and other pokey things. He's here, next to me, hardly noticing me. Chatting to Jessica like it's just another walk in the park! But it's more than that, way, way more! Can't he see that? Sweat forms on my brow, hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention, there's a good chance I may be whimpering!

Hey Rob,” he says, “...make a fist.” and I do, I think. “You're gonna feel a little pin prick...”

...and then, well then pretty much nothing. That's the thing about sedation at the dentist's office, you don't really remember anything. I remember driving across the 'B' bridge on the way home, I remember Shelley suggesting I have a nap.

...and just like that; it was tomorrow. All fixed, all better. All done.

I should be better at this by now. These people know their craft, and they're really nice too. They really do care, they really want to make it a pleasant experience, and I'm going to guess that they do that for everyone. I have to confess - the truth is that I'm no less afraid today than I have ever been – that's become ingrained, a part of my DNA. But, and there's always a but; But with the right combination of carefully administered drugs and a team like they have at Driftwood Dental, one might survive a visit to the Dentist. In fact, I more than survived. I bet, in retrospect of course, that I was probably quite brave while I was under... like a fireman or a guy who swims with sharks or a lion tamer.