the fear of.. surprise?

September 7th, 2004

During an hour long visit to my least favorite hangout last week, the dental chair, it occured to me that the visit seemed interminable. I felt what I always feel at the dentist, an almost constant fear of pain. The situation is pretty unique, being in that position there is little to be done for relief, I can't really move much, I can jerk my head a little but that's pretty much it. It should be said that dentail pain is probably my least favorite kind of pain altogether. Headaches can be really bad on occasion and they're exhausting but rarely do they hit me with such a force and unpredictability as dental pain does. And the reason why dental pain is worse is that it's so unpredictable. With most kinds of pain, I can tell in advance what situation will cause what magnitude (and in most cases what kind) of pain. If someone were to hit me with a baseball bat, I know in advance what to expect. With dental pain it's completely different, I never know what's coming and there are times when I get struck out of the clear blue sky.

So reflecting on this issue, little by little it dawned on me that it's not so much the pain that is the subject of the fear felt so clearly. It's the fear of being surprised by pain that stirs the pot really well. I really hate sitting in that dental chair and not because I'm in much pain (little or none most likely) but I do feel the constant threat of pain to surface at any time at all. It's not knowing what might happen that is to be accounted for the significant mental strain of this situation, not actually feeling pain. And let's face it, most times in life pain isn't so bad, very rarely do (I think) most people feel much pain for long periods of time. Once the pain comes, you know what it's like, often we can cope with it. But fearing pain is a big problem, not knowing what to expect, that causes serious stress. So it's the fear of surprise that is the real issue here..

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