The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Dentist

Before my wisdom tooth extraction, I did a whole bunch of reading to see what I could reasonably expect to happen. I knew going in that this was a chance to reboot. No caffeine, no alcohol, no solid food. Rarely do we get a chance in life with its hectic pace to do this kind of radical reboot; the dental surgery provided a perfect opportunity, a perfect excuse to break a whole bunch of habits all at once and try something new.

One of the key points was that for a while afterwards, I’d be eating mostly non-solid things – soups, broths, puddings, etc. so things like smoothies and soups would be the order of the week. I found out that most processed and refined foods turn into a disgusting sludge when you blend them, as all the binders, fillers, and chemicals separate. Natural foods tend to survive the puree process with flavors intact. Meats also tend not to do too well in a blender, so it’s been a mostly vegetarian diet for me. Most of my meals in the past week have been a mix of rice and vegetables pureed with a broth into a thin gruel, which sounds much worse than it actually is. Today’s lunch, for example, is tomatoes, brown rice, and tomato juice as a sort of thickened soup.

The results have been amazing. In less than a week, I’ve reset my sleep schedule, healed a bunch of minor chronic nagging things like a persistent upset stomach, lost 13 pounds, and generally felt better. The reboot is delivering amazing results. Is there discomfort? Absolutely. You don’t have four teeth yanked out of your head without some level of impact. But the chance to reboot has been worth it, and it’s something I’m going to try to do every 6 or 12 months for a week.

Here’s the interesting part. When I was doing my reading about aftermath and aftereffects of the operation, the vast majority of people were telling stories of endless hunger, of fits of rage and depression at not being able to eat their favorite foods. Some of the commenters and writers were driven to states that I can only describe as near-madness. Instead of embracing the chance for change, they saw it as an unwelcome disruption and the amount of unhappiness they suffered as a result was shocking.

Times of trial and change can either be points of pain and confusion or chances at transformation, at transcendence. So much of life is not good or bad. It just is. How we choose to perceive it, what we choose to do with the opportunity is what determines good or bad, happy or sad, welcome or intrusive. I made the conscious choice beforehand that this would be an experience I could transform into something positive, a way to break habits. When we break our habits, we break a piece of our identities, and that gives us a chance to leave behind the pieces that are unwanted, the pieces that hold us back from moving towards our goals.

Very often, we get so locked into our habits and daily grinds that we don’t even see the chains we’ve imposed on ourselves, and it takes something like dental surgery or another major event to force those habits to break without our consent. Take advantage of those moments! Take advantage of what appear to be problems or troubles and see how you can transform them and yourself into wonderful chances to make needed changes. You’ll be much happier and possibly healthier for it.

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