The dentist was still talking but to be honest I’d stopped listening after the words “root canal”. It seems that while I had embraced South American food (I may have mentioned my love-affair with it once or twice), the sugary goodness had not done me much good. So as well as gaining a few extra pounds on the waistline, it seems my teeth have also suffered (and I did brush them twice a day mum – promise!) As though to prove that point a huge chunk of one of my teeth fell out on the day I was leaving the country.
Which meant that one of my first experiences in New Zealand was a trip to the dentist. Although he was nice and friendly, for some reason, after briefly examining my mouth, the dentist decided to give me a ‘worst case scenario talk first in which the dreaded root canal was mentioned. I don’t know whether it was some sort of psychological trick, so that whatever I did need didn’t seem as bad or whether he genuinely thought I might need one. Either was I nearly burst into tears and was actually glad when he stuck the needle into my gum as I didn’t trust myself to speak without blubbing.
As my mouth was numbing the dentist decided to ask me 20 Questions. (I guess it must get a bit boring sometimes just doing that count-y thing they do on your teeth and asking people whether they want a scale and polish.) His chief enquiry was “Don’t you get lonely travelling by yourself?” To which I felt like answering: “Only when people bring it up all the time. Honestly it’s like when you’re single and people say: “Don’t you want a boyfriend?” and you realise you probably wouldn’t think half as much about it if people didn’t feel the need to keep going on about it.
Fortunately it didn’t take too long for my gum to numb and, even more fortunately, it turned out I didn’t need root canal treatment. For now. The dentist went to great pains to point out that at some point in the future I would probably need one. “It could be in a week, it could be in 20 years,” he told me reassuringly.
In the meantime a filling would do and as he tipped the chair back I noticed a huge television screen installed on the ceiling, with Sky rolling news playing, so at least as I was having my mouth drilled I could see how the Dow Jones was doing.
So after two days in New Zealand, with a $380 dollar bill in my pocket and the threat of root canal treatment hanging over me forever more, I’m seriously hoping my trip goes uphill from here.