There are times, gentle reader, when I am a creative mad genius, a magpie in human form, easily sliding from one moment of brilliance to the next. And there are other times when I have a surprising amount of cynicism in me. I don’t like to give voice to the cynicism too often. I am, after all, very nearly surrounded by cynics, all of whom I love, who doubt enough for me as well as themselves, and someone has to play angel’s advocate. I’m happy to be that person. (Literally.)
The Opening Gambit: Cynicism
But every now and again my gut reaction is mistrust and dismissal, and to be clear about this, it’s not my understanding that that reaction is necessarily God saying, ‘hey, that’s a bad idea, steer clear.’ Why? Because I’m getting more and more familiar with recognizing the Voice for God and those times when I do have confirmation that it is the Voice for God saying no… it’s rather unmistakable. (That was understatement. What follows is not.) Everyone’s different, and what it seems like to me might be different for you, but when God says to me, ‘NO, DARLING,’ I’m largely filled with an unmistakable and deep sense of doom.
Okay, that’s dramatic. It’s a dramatic feeling. You could substitute ‘inescapable foreboding’ for ‘doom’ if you prefer.
It’s like when Han Solo at various points in the Star Wars franchise, finds himself slowly admitting out loud, ‘…I’ve got a bad feeling about this.’
(Is my dork showing? No? Excellent. Let’s move on.)
So, I can rationally separate out those moments when I have knee-jerk cynicism from those moments when God is telling me, in all caps, in eight-foot-tall flaming letters that block my path, ‘NO, DARLING.’ And you’d think that me being a rational being, and being able to tell the difference, I would immediately challenge the unwarranted cynicism to see what really motivated it. Alas, as Yudkowsky has said, those moments when you most need your skills as a rationalist, those are the moments when your skills fail you. I have found hindsight to be useful in analysis, however, and so I grow ever closer to the event horizon: being able to know why I think a thing, and whether or not I want to continue thinking it, in the moment in which I am thinking it. (Meditation helps as much as hindsight & analysis, fyi.)
Let’s examine a recent example in the Life of Sare.
When Sare’s darling husband Michael came home from the Dentist’s Office with a trifold brochure detailing how said dentist might be able to help with her Intractable Migraines (actual diagnosis), Sare dismissed it.
What on earth could a dentist have to say that her neurologists, specialists in migraines could be missing?
But of course, this wasn’t a rational question, seeking a series of interesting multidisciplinary answers involving the challenging of internal and confirmation biases, the pressure of the large prescription drug industry, the pros and cons of western medicine in general, and, eventually, a deep and healing dialogue on the nondualistic nature of reality and its implications for the experiences we’re having nowish.
This was a rhetorical question that begged its own, as it turns out, incorrect answer. That answer was ‘Nothing, obviously, and what a stupid idea to begin with.’
Like most situations, when I ask the wrong questions, I tend to get answers that sound useful, but are, in fact, entirely misleading.
It was some months before the voice of cynicism was dismissed. In fact, I needed a new dentist, and it had been a while since I’d been to one, and as my husband had found a good one who was still taking on new patients, that was my natural choice.
So I went there. And I asked about it, this new-fangled migraine treatment, when the dentist himself came to see me. Possibly my face was closed entirely, possibly I had that look that people haunted by something they don’t think they can actually escape from have on their faces when they politely inquire about the possibility of freedom.
Dr. Wood, my dentist, did not have a closed face in return. He did not politely and sedately answer my request for information, for Dr. Wood is the most outgoing, joyful, and enthusiastic person of genius and insight that I’ve ever met.
(Full Disclosure: I actually know many people of genius and insight. The only one in my circle of such acquaintances who could be called, even occasionally, outgoing, joyful, and enthusiastic would be me. And now I know another! Hooray!)
Dr. Wood, with the joy and enthusiasm of a man who knows his treatments work and who has seen people released from chronic pain and suffering, explained what this mystical, magical process called TruDenta was, where it came from, how it developed, and what it wasn’t. Then he asked me about my story.
I watched as I told him most things, but not all (not the true and horrific depths to which I had reached, for they were too frightening and difficult to mention, and we did not have such trust built between us – he would find out about them later on). His open face was a study both of horror and excitement. I had told him but a summary, when he asked me seemingly random, but as it turns out, pertinent questions about my history.
Had I ever had orthodontia? Yes. Had I ever been in a car accident? Yes, several times, one of which was bad. Do I sit a lot at work? Yes, despite the standing desk. Do I use the computer a lot, or do other repetitive things? Yes, and only sometimes with an ergonomic keyboard, and I’ve had trouble with my wrists/arms/shoulders/hands in the past. Do I grind my teeth? No idea. Can I open my mouth widely and comfortably? Nope. Have I ever had a concussion? No, but I was a martial artist when I was younger and I have been hit in the head numerous times. (I’d forgotten to mention being hit in the head with a softball, which happened more than once.)
Each answer seemed to tell him something that was delightful and wonderful to know. I can see the red thread between them quite clearly now, but at the time I only noticed that some of the things happened to deal with muscles, and how to injure them.
He said I sounded like I might be a excellent candidate, but there was a definitive set of tests, an initial assessment, that he wanted me to go through. Since my case was so dreadfully awful, and he wanted to treat me to see if TruDenta would work, even for me, he waved the fee for the testing, which was $100.
I did go through with the initial assessment, and I’m pleased to report that the variety of tests he put me through were not the sort that catered only to confirmation bias. (For those unfamiliar, there is a way we can test and do research that only confirms our own suspicions, but never challenges them. It’s shoddy science, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen anyway, and fool a great variety of people. It’s a little like only being willing to talk to people who agree with you.)
What kind of tests?
He measured my bite. Which as it turns out, was horrible. Did I realize? No. I’m not a dentist, and I was still able to chew my food. (Now I have an excellent, nearly perfect bite, and I can now tell the difference. I’m shocked I was still able to chew my food.)
He measured the flexibility of my neck. Which as it turns out, was horrible. Did I realize? Sort of. I knew I carried stress in my shoulders, and I knew I couldn’t turn my head as far as I used to be able to. I notice this particularly while driving, and needing to change lanes. (Six months ago, I had to turn my whole torso in order to see in my blind spot. Now I can simply turn my head far enough. Life is unexpectedly exciting, in this way.)
He measured the lactic acid build up in my face and neck muscles. (Which as it turns out, was horrible.) This was the only measurement which was not objective, nor done with electronic sensors being interpreted by a computer. This one was done via physical manipulation, and was adjusted for my own particular pain scale, which is ridiculously insensitive. (“On a scale of zero to ten, zero being no pain at all, ten being the worst pain you’ve ever had, how is your headache, Sarah?” “Oh, it’s only a three.” “Why are you at the infusion center if your pain is only a three?” “Uh, nurse, at My Three, I can no longer operate heavy machinery, or a gas stove. And it spikes up to My Seven, at which point I suffer from aphasia and am in screaming agony. But that’s only a seven. It’s gotten much worse, but I can’t walk past seven.”) In every area tested, I registered a concerning or dangerous amount of lactic acid build up, which were the highest two levels. Mostly I was at the highest level. (On the flip side, the strength of my facial muscles, indicating that I smile a lot, was also noted.)
And Dr. Wood confirmed what I had already guessed by that point; I was an excellent candidate for success with TruDenta. The appointment continued on to do some preparatory things, and my first treatment was scheduled a few weeks after that.
This blogpost, The Opening Gambit: Cynicism, is part one of Sare’s Adventures with TruDenta. Stay tuned for part two – The Hidden Bias: Nondualism.
For more information on TruDenta, you can check out their official site here, or wait for part four of this series, entitled The Nuts & Bolts: A spa treatment. If you’re in the WNY area and you would like to have a TruDenta assessment with Dr. Wood, you can find his website here, and his facebook page here. To make an appointment, call his office at (716) 882-0800.
Finally, has Sare been compensated in any way, shape, or form by anyone for this blog series? Nope.