I’m kind of a fanatic about having my teeth cleaned every six months. It probably has something to do with my husband’s graduate school years, when we couldn’t afford a visit to the dentist, and the hard chunk I found in my pizza after he finally received his Ph. D. and got his first job. As it turned out, the chunk was a piece of tooth.
I ended up with a crown not only over that molar but two others as well. Since then, I’m a regular visitor to the dentist.
As most of you already know, I have an inner ear disorder. Fortunately, due to lots of prayer, avoiding sodium and caffeine, and my current medication, I’ve been dizzy-free for over four years. Before that time, however, I never knew when my world would start spinning or I’d have a vertigo attack.
Since I usually had two or three days a week with no balance issues, I decided to take a chance and schedule a time to have my teeth cleaned. When I woke up the day of my appointment, I was pleased to note that I felt fine. But two hours later, the dizziness began. I tried taking a nap and even exercising, which sometimes helped, but the whirling continued. Although the spinning was mild while I remained upright, which means I could drive safely, when I reclined in a chair, like I would be at the dentist, the dizziness intensified to the point where I scrambled to get back upright again.
By this time, I only had a half hour left before I needed to leave for my appointment. Therefore, I did two things:
First, I started praying.
Second, I started bawling.
I’m not a big crier, but the thought of telling the receptionist about my inner ear disorder made me feel embarrassed, humiliated, and, in a way, almost ashamed. Having Meniere’s was mortifying enough, resulting in sudden vertigo attacks which left me stumbling around like a drunkard and vomiting into the nearest trashcan. Now I’d have to tell her about it, and I don’t like feeling weak or dependent upon people. In addition, I really, really don’t like crying in front of people. Now, not only would I have to admit my vulnerability and lay my plight at the mercy of the receptionist, I’d have to do it while blubbering into the phone.
I picked up the phone two, three, four times to make the call. But each time, I started sobbing before I had even finished dialing. And the entire time I was bawling and dialing, I was praying–for God to take away my dizziness or at least help me to control myself long enough to speak to the receptionist.
But neither happened. I now had ten minutes before I had to leave.
Of course, I could just not show up for my appointment, which would make things a lot easier for me. But that would be wrong, and the last thing I wanted to deal with was guilt and sin on top of humiliation.
So I kept praying, picking up the phone, weeping, and hanging up again, knowing I would have to get the call made soon.
Five minutes left.
I no longer had a choice. I’d have to call the receptionist and try to make myself understood between racking sobs. I swallowed my pride, blew my nose, and reached for the phone.
And it rang.
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. “Hello?”
“Hi, Sue. This is the dentist office calling,” said the woman on the other end. “I’m so sorry, but we have a patient here that is taking much longer than we anticipated, so we don’t have anyone available to clean your teeth. I know it’s last minute, and again I apologize, but can you come in another time?”
After I finally shut my gaping mouth and was able to form words, I rescheduled, hung up the phone, and started blubbering again—this time because of God’s grace and compassion. He knew I was already having a hard time dealing with my inner ear disorder. He knew I didn’t like crying in public or feeling humiliated and weak. And he knew I was trying to do the right thing.
Never, before or since, has a dentist ever called to cancel a last-minute appointment for me or anyone in my family. And I don’t know anyone else this has happened to, either.
During one of the most difficult years of my life, God showed me more of his tender heart and steadfast love by reaching down and taking care of a small dilemma that was hard for me.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14 (ESV)