It’s a non crafty post from me tonight as I’m celebrating a mini victory towards overcoming my biggest phobia. Those who know me personally also know that I am terrified of the dentist. Today I went to my appointment and didn’t cry, I managed to breathe through my whole check up and ‘allowed’ the dentist to use the various terrifying looking implements on his table to check that my teeth were healthy. Right now you’re probably thinking ‘wow, have a gold star’ (said with a mild hint of sarcasm!), and I don’t mind because what is big for me is nothing to others, equally I know there are other people out there for whom even walking past the dentist’s surgery is a huge step.
I wasn’t always afraid of the dentist, obviously it wasn’t on my list of favourite things to do, but I wasn’t terrified, I was able to have treatments without crying or panicking. One day, for some reason that no one has been able to explain, I went for a standard filling and reacted terribly to the local anaesthetic. I woke up to a dental nurse rubbing my nose and vomited in the sink. (Sorry!) After that I was unable to cope with going to the dentist at all and had to be referred to the special needs dental service. In order to have the necessary treatment I had a general anaesthetic, as they didn’t think I would cope under sedation and my reaction had been unexplained.
Obviously a general anaesthetic was not safe (or appropriate) for regular check ups so I reluctantly kept going every 6 months or so, but refused to let them use any tools other than the mirror. I would have vivid nightmares in the run up to these appointments (think teeth falling out) and have to go and check in the mirror to make sure they weren’t real. I must have been the dentist’s idea of a patient from hell, I never saw the same dentist (they probably drew straws to see whose turn it was to put up with my panicking and tears!)
Eventually the time came where I needed the fillings I’d had done under general anaesthetic checked and topped up, so again I was referred to the special needs service. This time they decided to give me gas and air (if it’s good enough to help with pushing babies out it must be ok for teeth!) and keep me awake as I’d had local anaesthetic for other procedures and been OK with it. A very patient dentist, along with Mr C, saw me though a course of treatment where I got braver and less and less scared (the gas and air made me feel all floaty and lovely, it was a bit of a running joke that once there were three Winnie the Pooh stickers on the ceiling instead of one it was safe to proceed!) I also learned some super breathing techniques from going there, and I use them to get me through the check ups, which I have at my usual dentist. (I breathe in for 10 and out for 10, they said I must have a large lung capacity, either that or I count really fast!)
Fast forward to today, where I had a very short moment of panic before settling into breathing steadily and getting through the appointment. Not even one tear escaped from the corners of my eyes, and the dentist explained each tool before using it so I felt sure about what was happening. (I asked a lot of questions, I’m beginning to see where my 5 year old gets his enquiring mind from!)
I’m trying really hard to overcome this fear, not just for me but for my children (though I manage to hold it together when they are there, and they had their check up yesterday-the 2 year old actually opened her mouth instead of clamping it shut, so my days of prepping her paid off!) It could be a long journey before I’m OK with having a local anaesthetic injection and treatment whilst not sedated, but these baby steps will get me there.
PS the dentist forgot to give me a bravery sticker so I gave myself one, in a glass.
Thanks for reading this slightly random but important post about my own milestones! If you have any tips for being braver, please share them with me.