I’ve just been to the dentist.
On the way home, I began to relax and I could feel the blood flowing back into my fingers – it had all left my extremities to help out at the panic centre – and my heart rate slowly returning to normal.Â Breathing, too.Â Whew.
I know this will strike a chord with many of you. There are so many people who fear going to the dentist that it’s actually quite unusual to find someone who doesn’t.Â Strangely, OH is one of those rare souls.Â I say strangely, because he doesn’t really have very good teeth and he’s had far more work done in his time than I have.Â He was actually written up in a dentists’ journal when he was eleven.Â I kid you not.
Anyway.Â It all started when I went for a six-monthly check-up about ten days ago, and Paul, my dentist, poked at all my teeth and gums with his little metal proddy tools and did the usual dentist thing where they ask you questions while your mouth is full of metal and fingers, and you haven’t a hope of answering, except to say ‘AAaugh!’ or ‘Wwroaall!’Â I think they derive a lot of amusement from that, by the way.
And he felt all along my tongue and around the sides of my mouth and under my lips, and poked all the glands under my jaw and down my neck because he is a very good dentist, and he was the one who picked up on my oral cancer five years ago and referred me to a surgeon, when all my doctor would say was ‘that’s very interesting, let’s see if it clears up, shall we?’ and now he’s responsible for keeping an eye on me and making sure that there’s no problem in that department.
So I was relieved when he told me that all looked just dandy.
‘Excellent!Â I said.Â ‘So, back in six months?’
‘Ah .. I think we’d just better do something about that broken tooth, first’ he said.
‘Wha … ?’Â I cried. Â And then:Â ‘A-ha-ha-ha!Â You’re kidding me, right?’
He’s a funny guy, is Paul.
‘Nope.Â I’m surprised you can’t feel it,’ he said sternly. ‘It’s quite sharp.’
And that’s the thing, you see.Â Since having that little tumour taken off the underside of my tongue, it doesn’t have the same sensitivity along that side as it did.Â In fact, mostly it feels kinda numb – as if the last shot of local anaesthetic is still wearing off.Â So no, I didn’t feel it, although there had been a kind of overall soreness, come to think of it.
Tonight I had to present myself at the evening clinic to get it fixed.Â And I was terrified.
I was so terrified that when I climbed into the chair and he asked me cheerfully how I was doing, I started to cry.Â Me.Â A grown woman.Â But he was very sweet and he handed me a tissue, as OH (who always accompanies me) explained to him how terrified I was, just in case he hadn’t noticed.
After a short pep talk, along the lines of ‘it won’t take a moment’ and ‘you’ll be fine’, and after we’d discussed a shot of local and I’d refused it, I shut my eyes and opened my mouth, and he began.
Yes, yes.Â I know.Â I can hear you all falling off your chairs in amazement, but it’s true.Â He offered the magic stuff, and I said no.
You see, one of the absolute worst things about going to the dentist – and a very close second to actual pain – is the feeling of that needle sliding up into what feels like the base of my brain, and the subsequent feeling of it having left a brick up there, closely followed by three hours of my face and jaw feeling absolutely fucking awful.Â The only thing worse than that is the sensation of it gradually coming back to life, when I tend to find out exactly which bits of my mouth I’ve chewed holes in whilst it was numb.
So when Paul tells me that it’s unlikely I’ll feel a thing because the filling isn’t going to be that deep, I tell him to go ahead without the local because I trust him, and because he promises faithfully to stop if I feel the slightest twinge and he’ll fill me up with anaesthetic anyway.Â And so far, that’s never had to happen.Â The whole process makes me very nervous, but damn! I feel good when I come out and it’s all done.
My advice to all of you, good readers, is this.Â If you have a good dentist that you trust wholeheartedly, give it a try.
Let’s face it. If I can do it – a woman who walks in with fingers like ice, and promptly bursts into tears – then I’m betting you can, too.
But I still say it would be charitable if all dentists everywhere would install a DVD unit with a screen on the ceiling and show Johnny Depp movies while the work was being done.