about writing and life and God

Surgical Spirit

on November 25, 2013

Let me mention a word so powerful it is almost guaranteed to produce fear – okay, a twinge at least – in the hardiest soul. Ready?


There. It worked. And so did the dentist I found I had to visit this morning. I have this tooth that’s been a pain for around twenty years. (I am not exaggerating.) Recently widowed, signed off from work by a kindly doctor, I discovered I could have a whole set of new fillings, crowns etc. very cheaply thanks to the generosity of the benefits system. Whoopee, I thought, and my Scottish thrift overtook my natural cowardice and got me into that dentist’s chair for the full works.

He made not a bad job of it – except for this one tooth which never really settled down. It has nagged and been duly probed at regular intervals.

On my last visit for a six-monthly check-up to my latest dentist, I mentioned it was giving my gyp again. Latest dentist is maybe a weensy bit laid back about these things and suggested I use toothpaste for sensitive teeth. I assured him I already do – his advice last time I mentioned this tooth. Well, he concluded, if the pain remains for an hour or two after contact with hot or cold, then maybe you need to come back. He took an x-ray to show willing.

By Friday, it was giving me more gyp. Every cup of coffee produced agony. (And I have a high pain threshold as anyone with my kind of past has to.) I finally wrote ‘Ring dentist’ as number one on my To-do list for Saturday.

And – you guessed it – didn’t. By Sunday evening, if there were a higher slot on the list than number one, it would have been there. Monday at 10.35 I was in the dentist’s chair. Not my usual dentist but a wonderful lady called Judith who discerned trouble at mill and set to, to sort it out. Root canal work, she said kindly, as she explained in detail and with diagrams exactly what she was doing. There was infection at the base of a nerve and it needed – to put it in plain Scottish – howked out, treated with antibiotic to kill the infection and then refilled. Today.

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It got me wondering just how many niggling, nagging, not-nice things I allow to continue niggling and nagging at me, without biting the bullet and getting them sorted out? High pain thresholds are one thing, but sin tolerance thresholds should be rock bottom and highly sensitised. Not easy in a world that doesn’t seem to have any sin threshold at all.

The demand for political correctness and inclusivity seems to insist on total acceptance of anything and everything. But rotten apples spread their decay. My dentist said it takes only three weeks for a small dental infection to get to keeping-you-awake-at-night proportions.

Jesus said we need to be careful about how we think  since anger can lead to murder, a casual lustful glance to adultery and the break-up of a marriage and a family. Small beginnings. Niggling, nagging bad habits, self-indulgence, things we may not think matter.

Advent starts on Sunday. Traditionally a time to prepare for the coming of the God-with-us in amazing humility and vulnerability. Today’s lovely dentist did a good job of identifying where the rot had set in. Maybe Advent is a good time for a spiritual check-up, letting the Holy Spirit probe our depths and howk out anything that’s gone bad in us!



2 responses to “Surgical Spirit

  1. scskillman says:

    This is an excellent post, Dorothy, and what a sharp (literally) comparison you make between our pain threshold and our sin threshold. We will do anything to stay in our comfort zone and to avoid pain, until it becomes intolerable – and as we are individuals we all have different thresholds.. and different interpretations of what constitutes “intolerable”.

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