Thursday, January 24, 2013

Walking as a Reward for Surviving a Dental Drill

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
-- John Burroughs, American naturalist and essayist (1837-1921)

The dread of heavy-duty dental work weighs particularly heavy on folks who have had heart valve replacements. A real danger exists of a cut in the gums sending germs into the bloodstream and quickly on to the valve replacement device. The malady is called endocarditis. Doctors and dentists prescribe antibiotics for patients to "pre-medicate" themselves against this possibility of going from a dentist's chair to another open-heart surgery to replace an infected replacement device. (Of course, it should be noted that the danger is far greater if you neglect your teeth and gums, and give such infection 24/7 pathways.)

That is a long-winded way of saying I dreaded my visit to the dentist today to repair some old fillings and a new cavity or two. My mouth was dry. I was a wimp. I kept asking for a dash of water, and I had the dental assistant turn on "Sports Center" in an attempt to distract my attention and ease my pain.

Departing with my mouth heavily numbed (a condition that contributes to my dread), I was ready to reward myself. The first stop was a small breakfast eatery called Eggs-Up Grill, where I was brave enough to try to blueberry pancakes. I say brave, because not long ago a local pancake house served them up to me with some kind of glop resembling blueberry pie filling as the topping, a concoction that must have delivered about 1,000 grams of sugar. Not Eggs-Up: They mix fresh blueberries into the buttermilk batter; their pancakes were quite simply the best I've ever had.

The real reward, though, came when I got home and my loyal Sadie dog let me know she was more than ready for our walk, which I could not fit in before the dental ordeal. She let me know by barking at me the minute I sat down at the computer to check my e-mail. Once outside, she led us on the longest of our routes heading through the woods. It was a refreshing break; by the time we got back, I had almost forgotten the dentist's numbing agents and drilling and filling.

Escape is one of the nicest returns from having the regular habit of walking out the door. I can recall many times from my pre-retirement days when a good lunchtime walk brought me back mentally refreshed to my writing and editing at the newspaper. In Richmond, I used to walk down toward the Jefferson Hotel (where a scene from "Gone With the Wind" was filmed) and past the Wonder Bread factory, where the aroma of baking bread was simply intoxicating. If I had a little extra time, I would walk to the James River Park to commune with Nature a bit. In my final gig as an office dweller, I would take breaks from my high-pressure think-tank job in Arlington, Virginia to walk some of the fairly steep hills in the vicinity of the nation's capital, and take strolls to a distant favorite coffeehouse or even through Arlington Cemetery.

Now that I work from home in semi-retirement, walking is no less important as a break, whether from our too-frequent doctors' and dentist's appointments or from my long hours on this computer, a device my Superdawg absolutely detests. Thank God I have her to nag me into taking walking breaks.

© Robert G. Holland 2013

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