08/09/2011 11:39 am ET Updated Oct 05, 2011

Pardon My French: Our Heroine Starts to Panic

"Root Canal"

That's one way of putting it. Another thing on my massive to do list, right in between renew passport, open safe deposit box, and paint bathroom, was to schedule as many doctor's appointments as possible before I lose my health insurance -- the most dire symptom of my new joblessness.

First up: Dermatologist. Moles all in good condition, and cancer free. Check. "This isn't so bad" I thought to myself.

Second: Dentist. That rare treat we all look forward to. I have had one bothersome tooth for about 4 years and a deep foreboding dread that it will end up needing a root canal. It is for this reason that I have trained myself to chew only on the right side of my mouth, but, as much as I hate needles and drills and other people's hands in my mouth, I need to sort this damn tooth once and for all.

That terrible tooth it turns out, is ripe for a root canal. Everything is in slow motion as I listen to the doctor say those two horrid words.

I emerge from the endodontist with my face fully numb, swollen, and as far as I can tell, kind of sliding down my neck. I feel panic setting in and I can sense my brain going into overdrive.

The to do list is still immense. I feel that every minute of the day needs to be productive. All of the time spent at home needs to be filled with packing and sorting and being put on hold by various operators as I try to cancel my utilities and newspaper subscriptions.

Each trip out of the apartment must include at least one errand -- shipping boxes, or donating books to the library, something that can be checked off the list.

I actually woke up in the middle of the night feeling so nauseous I thought I might be sick then realized that the pressure I was experiencing in my chest, the feeling of all of my internal organs sort of expanding and pushing on my ribcage. This is what intense anxiety feels like.