Spring Cleaning


Spring is a scary season for an agoraphobic. Who am I kidding? All the seasons are.

Around here, the snow melts; its disappearance takes with it a comforting wall of separation between us and the rest of the world. Now I can see my lawn – and the neighbors’ – and everything that out there:  OH NO, WHAT NOW? This means that I can no longer make excuses to avoid going places like: “the driveway has four feet of snow in it” or “the roads are dangerous to travel.”  They aren’t (unless you want to count all the people out there who are texting – but that’s another story). This means that I have to go out of my house.

Refresher Course

For those of you new to my universe of phobia, leaving the house is a major undertaking that I face, well – DUH – every time I leave my house. It can be worse in spring having hibernated all winter because the weather makes it tough to get out. This causes my “circle of comfort” to shrink; and I now have to work hard to broaden it to include seemingly simple things such as going to the mall or walking around the block. I have to remind myself of the fear-reducing techniques I have learned, almost as if I were starting from scratch. The work is tough, tedious and time-consuming; yet it must be done. So I do it in order to have the life that I want.

My First Excursion

I awoke to gray skies and a light pelting of rain upon my bedroom window. I glanced at my calendar, and there circled in red were the dreaded words: “dentist appointment – 9 am.” My first reaction was to pull the covers back over my head and wait six months until the first snow begins in the fall.  But I managed to convince myself that a bright smile and healthy mouth was worth a few butterflies in the stomach.

I readied myself for the day, stayed calm with self-talk and positive thought, and was all set to leave when it hit: a migraine headache.


Aura Time

A bright, jagged light made its way across my eyes, making it hard to see. This light is called an “aura”,” and it akin to the light you see if someone flashes a picture right in front of your face.  It can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to make its way across the entire eye, and you are helpless until it is gone.  It is not fun. I immediately knew from experience that a migraine was headed my way, and that steps needed to be taken if I were to cope with it.

Migraine     My aura

A Migraine Headache            What My Aura’s Look Like (click to enlarge)


sick puppy

The Sick Puppy Tries to Cope

No doubt about it, I was a sick puppy.  Yet I was determined to see the dentist.  After all, what’s the sense is wasting all those butterflies? They would just be there the next time, so I might as well put them to good use.

Now all I had to do was to wait out the aura until I could see well enough to drive, and avoid bright light, loud noises, and pressure to the head and face until the pain was gone.  Something inside told me that going to the dentist was not a smart thing to do; but since when did I ever listen to smart things? I popped two acetaminophens, climbed into my car, and waited for the light show in my head to stop. As soon as it did, off to see “Dr. Big Hands” I went. (Check it out if you don’t remember).


Dentist     Dr Big Hands

And So It Begins

After a rather treacherous car trip (shh – don’t tell anyone), I managed to swerve into the parking lot and stop my car about four feet from a majestic chestnut tree.  I had made it safe and sound. I kissed the ground and proceeded inside.

A smiley-face hygienist who glowed like an angel (from the remnants of my aura) showed me into a room and had my lie down in a chair. I thought back to the days of my childhood, when they actually allowed you to sit up.  I liked that a lot better.  When you are flat on your back, everything goes down your throat and feeds the butterflies in your stomach until they are itching to appear a la “Alien.” (If you catch my drift).

Also, lying flat makes rinsing and spitting that much more difficult. A regular cleaning was now the equivalent of 50 sit-ups.  I began to regret not being in shape.

Scary Light

A Treat for the Senses

Once uncomfortably in the chair, the fun starts.  The first thing they do is to hover a mind-numbing light over your head, reminiscent of the one in that Star Trek episode where they have a brainwashing machine that they forget to turn off and they suck out a guy’s mind until he dies (without any bleeding of course, because this was the 1960’s and nobody bled on TV in that decade). Needless to say, this bright light did not make my head feel any better.

Hook     Mace

The next thing they use is some sort of hook, designed either to hold the lip open for easy access to the gums, or to make sure your screams cannot be deciphered due to poor enunciation. Once sufficiently hooked, the scraping of the teeth commences (see above tools for poetic exaggeration and stylistic emphasis).

vaccuum     Belt sander

Once that is accomplished, remnants of Fritos lodged in the cavernous regions of the sub-gums can be hydraulically sucked out; followed by a delicate brushing with a belt sander for added buff.  And, voila, you are done!

Teddy Smile

Let Me Out of Here!

Did I survive?  Just barely. I wobbled to my car; and I don’t even remember driving home.  The rest of the day was spent in a dark, quiet room, praying that my migraine would soon abate.

Unfortunately, the bright shine of my newly-polished teeth cast a glare off the television set that sent waves of pain through the delicate nerve endings of my recently-tortured eyes. Still, don’t my teeth look good!



About Joe

Freelance designer and writer whose goal is to help others by writing about my experiences with fear and anxiety (agoraphobia), health struggles (cancer) and my wonderfully-happy life as a husband and stay-at-home dad. I want to empower everyone to have a happy life.

6 responses »

  1. anfinsenart says:

    Oh, boy, could I relate! Your aura’s look like mine. Do you get nauseous, too? You are an entertaining writer. What else do you write? Articles? Novels? Keep it up!

    • Joe says:

      Yes, I get sensitive to light and sound and have bought of nausea — and all that fun stuff. 🙂 Sometimes they come in streaks, and I am in the middle of one now that has been about 2 weeks long.

      Thank you for the compliment about my writing. Even though I have had things published in anthologies, and have a little something on Amazon.com, I am mostly struggling and unpublished. I like to write humor the most, but write many things. I have written short stories and books for young people, and have done some biographic writing, too. I am just finishing up a rough draft (novel) about taking care of my father right before he died.

      You can see more of what I write on the page here that says “My Writing” or also at this link: http://jvabbate.weebly.com/cv-abbott-book-project.html

      Thanks for asking.

  2. mcsgal says:

    You saw the dentist and had a migraine on the same day – only one bad day instead of two 🙂 Seriously, I know a migraine can be miserable and hope you are feeling better.

  3. Colleen says:

    Hope you’re feeling better. Make sure not to smile near any mirrors — your nice shiny teeth might set your migraine back off. 😀

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