Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Big-hairy fear be gone!


Hallelujah!
Ring those bells!
The universe smiled a big white toothy grin on me yesterday.

After way way way way too many years of letting my fear of going to the dentist get the better of me, I finally bucked up and went yesterday.

I don't think I've white-knuckled it in a chair like that in a long, long time.  Throughout the day, through clenched teeth and a racing heart, I kept telling myself to just turn it over to the benevolence of the Great Unknowable.

I was sure I had done massive damage through neglect, would be facing weeks and weeks of root canals, fillings, oral surgery, shame, embarrassment, guilt, you name it.

Instead . . .

"You don't have any cavities and you don't need any oral surgery."

I don't?

"No, just put your address on the postcard, which will be your reminder to come back for a cleaning in one year."

One year? Really?

"Really. You're not falling apart."

I spontaneously hopped out of the chair and hugged Elaine, the red-haired dental hygienist who had just spent the better part of an hour cleaning my teeth in a no-nonsense, non-painful, no-shame-no-blame, Minnesota nice kind of way.

And then I waited for the dentist to come in, for the other shoe to drop, for her to deliver the real news, the "bad-cop" part.

In she came, and after poking around for a couple minutes, she said:

"Looks good. Any questions?"

Um, wait. Really? How about those two wisdom teeth?

"I don't think they're a problem. I'll look at them next time, and if everything is still healthy, you may never need to remove them."

Really?

"Really. Any other questions."

Breath? Whitening?

"So, if you're worried about breath, scrape your tongue in morning with a spoon."

Really?

"Well, if your gag reflex is too strong, wait till later. And just buy the whitening strips. No need to pay more for the other things when this will do the same."

Um, OK. I think I'm going to cry.

Laughter.

Exit dentist.

Elaine filled an ordinary ziplock bag with a new toothbrush, floss, and some little mini brush thingies.

"See, I told you you weren't falling apart."

Thank you, Elaine.  I love you. 
Which way is the door?

And I slept like a baby (which is what I've been for way too long!)
. . .

This morning, I feel like someone who just won the lottery, only better.

I don't know who the guardian angel of people who have had a painful dental experience as a child is, but I owe said angel a big one.

Because, poof, just like that, my fear has was removed. No more big hairy deal.

This, my friends, is what I call a miracle.

(Hmmm. . . . I wonder if the Tooth Fairy works in reverse?)

A special thank you to Natalie, who had just the right words for me yesterday.
She often has the perfect words. I hope you'll hear more about her soon!

Photo by Jose Guola

5 comments:

Hilary said...

I so understand that sort of relief.. different issue but same feeling. I'm happy for you. Now smile big! :)

Barb said...

I'm raising my hand - I had a terrible dental experience as a child and now in my 60's, dentistry is still putting the fear into me. I think you did just win the dental lottery -celebrate!

steven said...

kathleen - i dream of dental events like this. you lived it!!! steven

ellen abbott said...

Oh, I'm so glad for you. I don't fear the dentist but I just don't like to go. an accident at 16 sort of broke my teeth and shoved others around and I've been dealing with it ever since.

Julie B. said...

Yay!! So glad you had a good experience at the dentist!

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