Friday, January 22, 2010

It doesn't matter how gentle you are, Dr.

I think it's safe to say that nobody likes the dentist. But I've found an interesting challenge in dentistry these days.

Let me backtrack...

I had braces when I was 12. And before the braces, four molar extractions. All at the same time. Which resulted in a low grade fever and a bloody, drooling mess of a girl. After that, followed by the agony of a year of orthodontic torture in the form of regular brace tightening (which, I'm positive, is some modern relative of medieval torture), there was very little a dentist could do to scare me.

I laughed in the face of the buzzing drill. I scoffed at Novocaine. I rolled my eyes and sighed at any and all scaling, scraping and prodding using pointy little wands.

Until five years ago.

I had dentistry conquered. And smugly so. But then one day I found myself lying on an operating table hearing the words, "We're having a little trouble stopping the bleeding", and everything changed.

My baby died. And hell folded in on me.

There were complications. Nasty, life-threatening complications. And a few days later there was a moment when I was laying splayed out on my hospital bed waiting for an OB to come fix my leaky c-section wound while two other nurses searched desperately for viable veins in each arm in which to pump the drugs keeping the infection at bay when I completely lost it.

And I've never recovered it.

Fertility treatments added to the weight of the cumulative trauma. As did a subsequent lap, and a D&C that required an overnight stay complete with a balloon catheter in my uterus to stop yet another bout of bleeding after yet another loss.

And so now, when the most gentle dentist I've ever known leans over me to do routine (albeit still unpleasant) dental work, it takes deep breathing, an unwavering focus on my happy place, and absolute nerves of steel to keep from succumbing to the panic of not being in control.

Such a familiar panic.

Which is why I've put off dentistry for a while. And why, in turn, I have a solid month of weekly appointments to deal with the neglect.

The mind is ever fascinating. Secret panic kept locked away always manages to snake its way out. But, I suppose, there's nothing like four weeks of immersion therapy to deal with it.


kate said...

ugh. (((((hugs)))))) That's all i got.

Oh, and maybe some Klonopin would help? Haven't tried it myself but i hear it is very effective.

Mrs. Spit said...

Oh sheesh.

Sounds like a bit of PTSD, and no wonder. Send me an email if you want my PTSD coping strategies.

Klonopin might be a bit harder than you want to go, but ativan would also do the trick.

delphi said...

I had tonnes of dental work as a child, plus a very bad parent-trying-to-pull-baby-teeth experience. I panic over cleanings. I totally know the place you are coming from, even though the origins of my anxiety are different. Does your dentist have one of those ceiling mounted TV's? Possible to bring a Colin Firth DVD and plug it in for the duration?

Big hugs.

Anonymous said...

I would seriously be considering some Ativan. I used to take it before the dentist due to a baaaaddddd experience. Just a thought.

Lots of big hugs.

Heather said...

Vallium. I've considered asking when I'm at the dentist. Laughing Gas at the very least. Hang in there. You've "survived" five plus years of horrible months.