Kite-Eating Tree

The Whole Tooth

Here, my dear,
this is where
we shake the nightmare free
I didn't realize I had an outright dentist phobia until Paul finally convinced me to go to his dentist instead of mine. I kept saying that I should go to the dentist at some point. I knew exactly how long it had been since I went because my last time was the cleaning I had before my wedding - so basically four years ago. Paul made the appointment for me because I didn't want to, and on the way there I kept fighting to stay the course and actually land in the dentist's office. When they gave me the forms at the front, I had to pay attention to my feet to keep them from running away. When the actually sat me in the chair, I clung to it to anchor myself and I felt stomach sick. They had a little back massager in the chair that kneaded my back left, and right, left and right, and I focused in on that feeling to keep myself grounded. I was honest with them about how I felt and they were compassionate.

I told them it wasn't the noise or the grinding, as long as there was no need for freezing, just the position and the helpless feeling. It's no accident that in the movies when people are strapped to a table with a blinding light over top of them something bad is about to happen... Laying back in that chair I felt the same helplessness I felt when they took out my wisdom teeth. That time when the freezing didn't work. That time when they were supposed to put me out because I was scared, when they bullied me into doing it in the first place when I didn't want to and then bullied me again into doing it anyway that day when it turned out there was no medication to put me out. Because it would have been inconvenient for the dentist to reschedule. That's the big detail I took out of it all.

I should have walked out right there, and if I had been in my right mind, maybe I would have. But as if the whole dental issue wasn't enough, it all happened a day or so after the major emotional trauma of me realizing I had an eating disorder, and I was too raw and wounded and small to speak up for myself. Which makes the whole business rankle me even more. He knew he was pressuring me, and he knew I was terrified. He did nothing to try to soothe my fear, he just told me that I was inconvenient for him. He was angry that I got in his way. Say nothing of health care even, but that's a bad business.

I ended up in that chair in some of the most intense pain of my life, alone, afraid, small, and fragile. And anyone who knows me knows just how unusual it is for me to feel that way. Typically I'm a pretty strong individual.

I've never had a phobia of anything until this one, and I think I'm well on my way to recovery by exposure, but it gave me a new perspective on fear, experiencing a phobia this strong. And a new perspective on dentists. I will certainly never be going back to the dentist I had when I was younger. I would never recommend them to anyone. I will find someone who doesn't view me as a stumbling block on the road to his next appointment, as a coward, or a failure. I want my health care professionals to care about me. And I'm strong enough now to stand up for it.