Monday, February 22, 2010

Time to... "Ohm"... Relax

I have been stressed out beyond what I can normally tolerate... I'm talking sweaty, nauseated, sleepless-for-a-week stressed out. My darling Marble Man has mentioned for a couple of years that I should see a dentist and get checked out. I've managed to put it off, being quite adept at changing the subject. That is, until a couple of months ago.

One day, last December, I received an email from my Dear Heart stating that he'd called UNC's dental faculty practice and found a dentist who specializes in treating patients with dental phobias. He'd gone ahead and made an appointment for me for early January. My stomach sank right before it tied itself tightly into a Gordian knot. It was here... no way to escape without disappointing my Guy.

When my appointment came around, I breathed a sigh of relief because Marble Man came down with the flu and was too sick to go with me (he'd promised, faithfully). I called to reschedule for early February, feeling a HUGE relief that I could put this impending doom in the back of my mind again.

This deep-seated panicky fear began in childhood with a dentist who had no business treating children. He had been a field surgeon in WW2 and believed Novocaine was for pussies. He thought it was funny to put a child in the chair and leave them alone for many long, tick-tocky minutes. For our viewing pleasure, on the opposite wall hung a lithograph depicting a leering, warty barber reaching into the mouth of a writhing man with a pair of pliers. In the background we could hear drills, gurgling, and smell antiseptic chemical odors.

Once a year, our family would pile into the car for the 40 minute drive to the dentist's office and a fun-filled morning of back-to-back appointments. Sometimes the appointments were reserved just for me - I had several sessions for extractions and the lovely side effect of ether-induced puking. I spent those 40 travel minutes in a full-out cold sweat. Unfortunately, I didn't realize my younger brother was having similar reactions. If I'd known, we could have consoled each other.

Throughout the years, there have been other dentists. Seemingly kindly men, they didn't believe me when I told them I could still feel pain, even through Novocaine. Drills ablazin', they'd tell me I was a hysteric, I should just suck it up, that it didn't hurt. But it did.

Fast-forward to last week. I had my first check up in 14 years with a compassionate dentist who spent the whole hour taking history and chatting me up. After checking my pulse and finding it jacked way up, he merely took a visual look around, refraining from using sharp and pointy things. He said we'd go as slowly as I need to go, and suggested I see a psychologist to practice some relaxation techniques to try to learn self-hypnosis.

I had my first psych appointment on Thursday, and I think it will help a lot. We spent an hour working on biofeedback, deep relaxation, and imagery. I'm practicing a couple of times a day with the hope that I've learned enough to get me through tomorrow morning's dental appointment for the second part of my initial check up. This time there's no avoiding the instruments. I take very good care of myself, because my grand evil plan was to never sit in a dentist's chair again for the remainder of my life. So, hopefully, tomorrow I'll hear that I don't need too much work done. Crossing fingers, closing eyes, and deep breathing here... "Ohm"

copyright 2010 Shibori Girl


Doreen said...

Oh, Kate...there are so many others who totally fear the dentist. You are not alone. Just rest assured that things have changed so much in dentistry. There are all kinds of ways to make this so much easier for you. It sounds like you've found a real concerned and caring person to help you through. As a recently retired dental hygienist, I know about the changes (for the better) first hand. Good luck with your appointment tomorrow! I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Snap said...

I'll OHM along with you (sound is good for healing). Hang in there. I had a horrible experience as a child ... many of *my* age did, I believe. Now, I visit every 6 months and no sweat. You can do it!

T.Allen-Mercado said...


That story about your childhood dentist is horrific! Mine was a sweet little man with a comb-over and humorously tight pants. I hope you have many reasons to breathe easy and smile tomorrow. Good thoughts.

Beadwright said...

OK don't freak out. I have been going to the dentist my whole life and even though it is not my most favorite place I would much rather go to the dentist and have a root canal than to the eye doctor. I always say if someone wants secrete information from me just suggest getting close to my eyes and I am spilling it all.

Take it easy and remember to breath. LOL


Gabriela said...

Hello Kate,

Well, I really think that we all have fobias to something.
I personally try to "disconnect" with the whole thing...thinking on things I really like or I need to work on...

How about dreaming a new recipe...something visual...

Good luck!

~ Gabriela ~

Robin said...

My god, what a sadist that first dentist sounds like - and what a blueprint for developing a phobia of dentists. I'm so glad you've found someone so gentle and kind and understanding to help you this time, and what a star your Marble Man is for finding him and gently encouraging you to visit.

Stephanie said...

I can't believe what you and your siblings went through...I had a insensitive dentist as a child too but nothing like this guy.

Good luck with your stress reducing!

I will send the benefits of my yoga practice tonight out to you...


lori vliegen said...

i'm sorry that you've suffered so! i don't know of anyone who actually LIKES to go to the dentist....and if i ever meet one, they're immediately going into the "crazy" category! it sounds like you've finally met someone who understands your feelings about being in the chair.....and i'm glad that you've also met someone who you like....and someone who likes to say "ohm"!
positive thoughts and prayers coming your way for your go girl for facing your demons, kate!! :)))

Andrea - Faded Plains said...

Poor Kate...I'm over hear cheering for ya...and "ohming" with you too.

Fete et Fleur said...

I'm thinking of you, and hope everything went well.


littlepurpleroom said...

Ok before I reveal what a pussy I STILL am after all these years...
Kate THANK YOU ! I LOVE my earrings.
Larry said they were so cool and he visited your blog because he couldn't believe they were clay.
I came to gather a couple of things from your blog to put into the post that will be up tomorrow on my blog about you.

Ok, now i am the biggest baby when it comes to the dentist. Like you, I had a total jerko work on me when I was in reform school (still NOT reformed, so there)he had to do a little something on a molar ( I won't say what because it will freak us all out)and he cracked the tooth next to it. He swore up and down he did not...but I know better. My tongue knows a crack when it feels one ( that sounded weird).
Anyway, fast forward numerous years (won't say how many)and my work covered my dental. I was having a problem as I had not been in a loooong time. I called around to find a dentist. *ring ring*
Them: Doctor so and so's office, may I help you?
Me: Do you have gas?
Them: Oh no, we are a painless dentist.
Me: "click"....

So I finally found one who said yes, and she asked if I was a big baby and I said "hell yeah". When I get up from the dentist chair you can see the outline of my body in sweat. And I cry when I have my teeth cleaned. (really).
So she told me to come in a couple days before my appt and meet with him.
So I did.
he prescribed me some valium and I took one that night and the next day and the next night and 30 min before my appt. And then they gave me the gas and I was on the ceiling and I did not care if they pulled them all out as long as I could take a tank of that glorious gas home with me.
So make sure they have nitrous oxcide if you can take it and you will laugh your ass off. HAHAHAHAHA
Or try the relaxation thing.