It bubbles forth…

Thank you Anderson, good to know I’m not alone!

Recently had my first visit with a new dentist. Due to previous “incidents” involving Inappropriate and Hard to Harness Laughter at dental offices and unfortunately, even one funeral, these visits can be cause for apprehension. Will it happen again? Will it be today? How far off the chain will I fly? My husband had the appointment just prior to mine so after exchanging nice, normal greetings with the dentist and his assistant, the stage is set for him to believe I am the nice, normal wife of the nice, normal man he has just tended. Knowing full well that nothing could be further from the truth, I wonder, “Should I tell him?” but then shrug it off instead. He has a very nice way about him and a gentle dental lounger-side manner. From this lounger I can see out the 2nd floor windows across trees and low buildings to the ocean a ways off in the distance. Music that is pleasant but not mind-numbing is playing softly, old standards mostly.

The dentist makes teethy small talk during his assessment and graciously compliments the work my previous dentists have done. Because of our affable interchange so far, I’m feeling comfortable and, to some degree, confident that my concerns of another dental office episode being triggered on this visit will go unfounded. But as he is so nice, and his assistant seemingly so new, decide to give fair warning to them both, just in case. I start babbling, “Ahhh, just wanted to let you know, I mean, it may not even happen at all but I have, in the past, had hysterical laughing fits at the dentist but I think I’m okay today and it might have just been the headlamp the dentist was wearing which set it off or the foam blocks they were stuffing my face with but anyway…” The assistant giggles at this admission, clearly not understanding that what I am referring to means much more than a quick snicker but the dentist, obviously quite the equanimous soul, appears unfazed. Good. All seems to be going swimmingly; cool-cucumber dentist, greenhorn assistant who, it must be said, was fairly useless with the placement of the sucky-straw vacuum thing, and lastly me, despite nearly drowning due to aforementioned careless placement of the sucky straw, NOT coming untethered from the spaceship and drifting into the deep space of an uncontrollable, gasping for breath, tears a-streaming laughing fit. Swimmingly that is, until a new song begins and the words register in my trying-to-keep-it-together mind, “Heaven, I’m in heaven…” Boom! Trigger pulled. I’m lost. I start gagging with laughter, the dentist rolls his chair back and all I can manage to emit is quacks and gurgles and squonks as I try to both apologize and explain it was the song, the song! At least one of my crazy gesticulations or garbled noises is understood as the dentist replies, “Ohhhh, the song. Yes, you aren’t really in heaven are you? You’re in hell.” Which somehow wasn’t really an enormous help in quelling the laughter but was nice in that I could stop trying to explain. After, when all had seemingly returned to at least the outskirts of gnormul, I asked the dentist if he had experienced this before in his practice. He may have replied in the affirmative but then also went on to offer advice in the form of acupressure points which could help me to regain control on subsequent episodes. A surprisingly nice dentist. And as well centered as an egg yolk, I think to myself. Once home I try and look up uncontrollable laughing and might be alarmed if I thought I had this –

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA), emotional lability, labile affect or emotional incontinence refers to a neurologic disorder characterized by involuntary crying or uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays.

But I don’t. (Have that.) (And am thinking the term, “emotional incontinence” is brilliant…) What I DO seem to have though is an unpredictably quirky propensity tickled by nervous anxiety to laugh uncontrollably in situations where laughter, even if held more tightly in check, might be cause for the nervous backing away and sidelong glances of those present. Which I’m afraid means no more dentists or funerals for me. Upshot of this whole overly long little story though is if one is feeling blue, one need only google “laughing fit” or uncontrollable laughter” or the like and peruse the images that come up. It’s hard not to smile right back!


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