About 7 years ago I went to the Dentist – and I didn’t freeze at all during a root canal. Honestly. It was the most pain that I’ve ever been in and I cried through the whole thing. The Dentist basically told me that she’d already given me too much freezing and that I was just going to have to deal. By the end of the appointment I was shaking and tear stained with a poorly filled tooth… and my Dentist asked me not to come back.
Since this appointment what started as a wee bit of Dental anxiety has turned into a massive irrational fear. I went to the Dentist yesterday for the first time in years and when the Dental Assistant came out and asked the man sitting next to me to come on back so that they could get started freezing him… I nearly ran out. It was a really, really close call.
But I reminded myself that my back molar is BROKEN and deserves some serious attention. I also berated myself for being a big old baby and I wished that I’d thought to bring someone with me to keep me from running away. But that would be pretty embarrassing. (“Can you come to the Dentist with me so that I don’t run away? Thanks.”).
My anxiety level was so high though that when the Dentist called me a “bad girl” for having a couple of small cavities I began to cry. I turned bright red, my eyes welled up, spilled over and I lost the ability to speak for several moments. He immediately apologized. I think that the tears made the dental anxiety that I’d warned the receptionist about become suddenly very clear. He grabbed my hand and apologized again, promising that he would make sure I was frozen before he did anything painful. The Dental Assistant picked up my hand on the other side and promised that she would help too.
And I think I died a little bit inside.
I mean: I’m a 30-year-old woman. And I’m having an absolutely ridiculous and over-the-top reaction to something that most people do without any issues. Tell me to get my shit together and stop my whining. It won’t help but at least it’s a reaction that I’m comfortable with.
All the sympathy and coddling? It just made me uncomfortable and embarrassed.
I don’t think I am very good at talking about the emotional stuff. I’m self-aware and I can discuss things that I’ve worked through, the things that I know about myself, or, better yet, others. Talking about those things in my life that are or were difficult? Things that I haven’t figured out how I feel about yet? Those things are difficult, if not impossible, for me to say out loud.
It’s this weird emotional block with me. Embarrassment, tears, uncertainty. I don’t want to expose those. I want to be sure of everything before I present myself to other people.
And I don’t think that any of us are sure of ourselves all the time. (If we are – it probably also indicates an issue).
So I have an appointment at the Dentist next Thursday and I have some pretty pills to help calm me down and a patient Father who will drive me to and from the appointment. (Sadly it isn’t the first time that he has had to do this, lol). I want to cancel because I’m really embarrassed about having had a silly anxiety attack in front of these people but I also know that I have to do this. I have to fix this stupid tooth (to add insult to injury this is the badly filled tooth from 7 years ago). I have to get over this fear of the Dentist before I am 40 and gumming all my food.
It is interesting to me that my reaction to these two kind individuals grabbing my hands and trying to help me was to curl up inside of myself and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. I felt too freaking vulnerable and, to be honest, it made me pretty nauseous.
Is this a sign that I’m some sort of emotionally unavailable freak? Or just that I have a normal reaction to socially unacceptable behaviour such as a crippling-fear-of-the-dentist-at-30?
I think that this blog makes me sound a lot more neurotic than I actually am.
Pray for my tooth.