Thursday, August 02, 2007

Attacking Panic

Take that panic.

I'm still here.

I have the deepest fear about dentists. Of all my phobias, and I have a few, this is one I hold in earnest. Growing up in a small mining town and having parents who had just enough money to get by, dentistry was something that was used to remedy pain, not promote health. We couldn't afford the local doctor of dentistry so we used to go cross the border to Metalaine Falls to see the bargain basement dentist there. It was a hair raising experience. We understood why when we arrived for an appointment to find the dentist office boarded up and local residents telling us that the dentist had been a fraud, a guy with forged dental certificates, who left town before being arrested. He left town with his bags and my confidence in dentists.

So, I go when I'm in pain. Get it done and get out. I have to deal with rising panic for days, horror pictures of dying in the chair, blood spurting from drills gone mad, dance in my head. It's horrible. Then I heard about this dentist in Richmond Hill that volunteered time to practice dentistry with people with severe intellectual and physical disabilities. He was supposed to be a kind and gentle man who did everything he could to make the practice of denstistry accessible to those with deep seated fears like mine.

I go to him rarely. When I have too. My teeth are always a mess when I go and he always admonishes me gently. Like today, "Have you been admonished yet?" "No." "OK, consider it done." Then he straps a thing over my nose and pumps gas in to settle me down. It works. But I'm still aware of what's going on.

Today I had a new hygienist who didn't know my history and my fears.

Before she started I heard my dentist say to her, "Take the time you need, don't rush him through, let him rest when he needs to, everything can be done in an atmosphere of trust and safety. Let him know that you'll be careful and that you care about his experience here. I'll check in occasionally and see how you are both are doing."

I think he thought I was asleep because my eyes were closed and I was drinking deeply of the gas and feeling relaxation, chemical relaxation but relaxation, seep into my bones. I was really touched that he wanted my fear respected, my pace honoured and my experience valued.

These are the kind of people who should be caring for others.

This is what I want for me. So this is what I want for others.

And a message to panic .... nan na na nan na na ... still here.


Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed by the parallels in our such disparate lives; I just recently went to the dentist as well ...

Jenny said...

I HATE going to the dentist. I need a root canal or two done, and while pregnant, it's just not happening. Hopefully, I can hold out until after I have the kid in February, so I can get the IV sedation and get my teeth taken care of.

My last endontist said that I have a true dental phobia. I can definitely sympathize with you.