Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Entertaining (Embarrassing) Visit to the Dentist

Yesterday I had a dental appointment to get a filling redone. I've had this particular filling since the third grade. The tooth next to it had a small cavity as well. Not bad considering I hadn't been to the dentist since the pediatric dentist kicked me out. I was 18, you do the math!

I know getting a filling is no big deal. Really, I do. But I have white coat anxiety. I get so nervous over going to the doctor if it involves needles and pain. I don't mind having my teeth cleaned, love it in fact. (I don't, however, love any other doctor's appointments even if they are check-ups. Poking and prodding my body does not top my list of fun!) But knowing there were needles and drill was horrible. The only thing that could have made this worse would be cat posters, bird mobiles, and a tank of snakes on display.

So I get to the dentist about 10 minutes early. I'm already thinking about the needle and the drill. The magazines in the waiting room were old and I'd read the People, but nonetheless looked at it again. About 25 minutes after my scheduled appointment I went to ask that my appointment was indeed the time I arrived and informed the receptionist that making me wait only adds to the anxiety. Finally, half hour after my scheduled appointment I'm taken back.

Dr. P comes in and exchanges pleasantries. I inform him I'm nervous and that I'm not a good a good patient. His smarty pants comment is "Well only you can change that." To which I promptly retorted "If you have a miracle therapy, please inform me! My doctor anxiety makes me miserable too!" He had no clue what he was in for.

He numbs my mouth with the liquid stuff and I begin feeling hot all over. I tense up. I try to breathe and tell myself to relax, to no avail. He tells me I'll be surprised by how little it hurts or how little I can feel it. I want to scratch his eyes out.

Here comes the needle. I tense. I tighten. I wince. I act like a baby! Then here it comes, needle number two. For the love of everything good would you quit wiggling my cheek as you shimmy that needle all in my little mouth!?

It will take about 10 minutes for the numbing to take affect and he leaves. I start crying. I'm such a wimp! I'm a you-know-how-old woman and I cry at the dentist. I'm not sobbing boo-hooing, but I have alligator tears welling up in my eyes. I told you I was a wimp.

I had forgotten my MP3 player but after my little numbing fiasco Dr. P offered the radio walkman he keeps on hand. At first I thought I'd be ok, but quickly realized I was joking myself and asked the nurse if I could use it.

About 10 minutes later Dr. P returns and pokes around in my mouth asking if I can feel it. I tell him it's numb but I can still feel the pressure, the sensitivity, and although it doesn't hurt when I chew on my tongue, I can feel that I'm chewing on my tongue. He decides I'm numb and ready to begin procedure. He gets the drill and comes at my mouth.

I hit the ceiling.

Dr. P decides that perhaps I haven't been numbed enough and proceeds to put injection number three in my gum. Then decides the back tooth is obviously ready so he'll work on it. Round two with the drill.

I hit the ceiling.

Frustrated Dr. P gives me a fourth numbing injection. I'm so tense and tight that I got a full body work out with emphasis to the abs and glutes from all of my muscle squeezing. Finally Dr. P asks if I've ever been given nitrous oxide to help with numbing and tension.

"Actually I've gotten it every other time I've been to the dentist."

Dr. P has a very understanding look as if to say "And now I know why!"

He hooks me up to a little laughing gas and immediately I start to feel better. I then begin chatting with the nurse that my pediatric dentist had pretty pink bubble gum scented noses for the laughing gas. I don't really like bubble gum and I have TMJ so I can't chew it but I love the color pink. My pediatric dentist also had marshmallow fluoride treatments that were the bomb. I loved those things. But I hate grape. Not the fruit but the artificial flavor. Beyond that point I don't quite remember what I said to her.

I do remember the drill coming back and being super nervous and anxious about it, yet my body was too relaxed to tense up. I still managed to tense the insides for a little extra ab and glute work out. Look out J-Lo, my bum is hard as a rock.

I normally keep my eyes shut during the dentist because I don't like the light in my eyes and would rather not see what's going in my mouth. The nitrous oxide continues to work and I feel so extremely heavy, like there are lead weights holding down every part of my body.

I know this sounds utterly ridiculous, but I had a total out of body experience. I've been put to sleep before and had laughing gas and this has never happened. But today, well, I was special.

The room was spinning so fast. I felt like I was in the teacups at Disney World and they had morphed to a high speed. Then I thought of all sorts of other amusement park rides and roller coasters that would make me feel that way if they were to go on super high. The scrambler, tilt-a-whirl, ferris wheel, and random roller coasters with lots of loops, like the Georgia Cyclone, all came to mind. I felt light headed and knew that if I just opened my eyes it would all go away, but I couldn't.

Then I started wondering if this is what it's like when people die. Do you just spin around in sublime darkness with random thoughts and not knowing whats going on and not being able to control anything? I started thinking of all of my family and friends. Not because I thought I was dying, but because I wondered if that's what people do when they die. I knew exactly what was going on, but at the same time was in another world.

The next thing I remember was, I think, me snoring and waking myself up! Yes, that's right. I fell asleep at the dentist and woke myself up snoring. Now I'm not a snorer mind you, but when you fall asleep with your mouth gaping open it's bound to happen. So I shuffle a bit to hide the fact I was snoring, as if it weren't obvious. I relax and drift back for a minute and then begin waking up feeling wonderful. When Dr. P put me on the oxygen it was euphoric! I should get a jolt of oxygen every morning.

So the whole process is over. I have raccoon eyes that makes it appear as if I've been beaten while in the chair, I'm numb from my forehead to my knees from the more than normal numbing injections I've received, and slightly embarrassed that I cannot be a big girl at the dentist.

Everything is fine now, just slightly sore from the multiple injections. I'd just like to say that for not being to the dentist for, um, a long (long) time, one little cavity isn't so bad. I'm off to brush and floss now as to not have to repeat the horrible experience above ever again.

1 comment:

girl from the south said...

I was 18, you do the math!

The math really depends on which 21st birthday you're referring to.

Really funny post. I don't think anyone likes needles. Did I tell you about my attempt last spring to give blood?