September 03, 2023

A Nightmare Come True

Image by Marcela BolĂ­var from Pixabay  

Over the last couple of years, maybe a few years, I've had this recurring dream. Well, actually, it's two recurring dreams. 

In one, I've got a mouthful of glass shards that I'm trying to spit out. I haven't been chewing on the glass, so I don't know how the broken pieces got in there—but I'm desperate to get them out. I'm opening my mouth to let them fall out; I'm wriggling around my tongue and stretching out my lips to dislodge them; I'm reaching in with my fingers to pull them out. 

But with every bit of glass that's removed, more arrives in its place. 

The second recurring dream likewise has to do with a mouth full of unpleasantness, but this time it's chewing gum that's expanded beyond its normal size, growing out of control inside my mouth, still chewable but choking. I try to spit it out, but some piece of it holds on like glue, making me stretch it and stretch it and stretch it like a magician's scarf coming out of a breast pocket endlessly. 

The chewing gum is sticking to my teeth, it's clogging up my throat, and it's paralyzing my tongue. 

My dreams are often prescient. I'll come across something in real life, and think to myself, "Oh, I know what this is, I've dreamed this before." I can navigate around unfamiliar territory. I can anticipate what happens next. 

But although I've been having these weird mouth dreams over and over again—so real when they're happening, it doesn't occur to me that I'm dreaming—I never thought they were predictive in any way. 

I'm reconsidering that now. 

Because this week when I visited the gum doctor after having some dental problems, I found out that I need not one but two oral surgeries. Maybe a tooth extraction. Maybe more than one. 

It's a waking nightmare for me, having never had any cavities (and therefore no fillings). The only dental work I've ever had done was a gum graft on one tooth and a wisdom tooth extraction. I didn't fare very well either time, having passed out in the chair and been put on oxygen, and having developed an agonizing dry socket. 

I'm not sure what the shattered glass in my dream represents—but at the periodontist's office a couple of days ago, it felt like I was reliving the chewing gum dream. 

Because I may need implants, they had to take an impression of my teeth—which involves mixing a powder in water and then pouring the resulting goo into a jaw-shaped tray that they squeeze into your mouth and tell you to bite down onto. 

I looked at the white, wet mess and told the dental assistant, "That's going to make me throw up."

As soon as my teeth squished down, the gloppy mess squirted out the back of the tray into the back of my throat, resting on the back of my tongue. I'd experienced this before, when fitted for a night guard maybe 20 years ago, and when fitted for whitening trays maybe 15 years ago. But this time, it was much worse.

And it didn't end there—because the first impression wasn't perfect, so they had to do it again. (It has to be perfect, or the replacement tooth implant won't match.)

The second time, it was with a bigger tray—and unfortunately, nightmarishly, more of the glop got displaced with my bite-down, sending a cascade of mint-flavored, rubbery rapids gushing to the back of my throat and finally and officially triggering my gag reflex. 

I wretched, and the doctor and her assistant put their hands on my back to guide me, instructing "Lean forward!"

Tears were streaming down my face. I labored to breathe. I felt claustrophobic and disgusted.

Once they took the tray out, I had to try to remove the goo residue on my tongue, the insides of my cheeks, my gums, my lips, up my nose, and even in my hair. I swished mouthwash around several times, but I was still picking hardened pieces of rubbery detritus out of my mouth, saying "Yich" over and over again. 

The periodontist wiped my face with a tissue, but I still found some traces of the stuff when I looked in the mirror back at my car.

This was just the beginning. No procedure had even started yet. I still have to go back in a couple of weeks for actual gum surgery. 

And I'm already miserable.

It feels like I'm being punished. But it always feels that way when something bad happens. 

And I spent so long being punished as a child, it's just what my mind immediately goes to.

After the surgery, I'll have to eat a liquid diet for a couple of days and then soft foods for a couple of weeks. (The gum doctor said I can eat whatever I want, as long as I put it in the blender.) I won't be able to eat much solids by the time my birthday rolls around. 

But that's nothing compared to my fear of the actual procedure, of how I'll look afterwards, of how I'll pay for what insurance doesn't cover.

I don't know what I've done to deserve this. But somehow, my subconscious knew that something like this was coming.

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  1. I used to have a recurring dream like your glass one, but where my teeth were disintegrating, and I was spitting out crack tooth parts. Haven't had it in a while. At any rate, best of luck with the oral surgery.

    1. I've had that dream too. Or teeth are falling out but new ones grow in their place just to fall out again.