overcoming fear

I admit it. I have a phobia to dentists and to needles (what a combination, huh)

Last September I had a tooth break off, and the nerve exposed. You can imagine the pain involved with this. Of course this happened on a Friday night, on Labor Day weekend. So no dentists in their offices until Tuesday of the next week. Upon calling around, all dentists were either on extended holiday or busy with other patients. Hell, most wouldn’t even take a new patient anyway. I was forced to visit one of the oldest and cruelest dentists in town.

You may say that I shouldn’t talk about a dentist this way, but this is the same greedy bastard who, when I was just a wee child, drilled my good new adult teeth and filled them, costing my parents oodles of money and subjecting me to many years of dental issues. He was the same dentist who, when I accidentally bit down on his finger (I was eight), he slapped my mouth with the back of his hand. Talk about professional!

Anyway, with this guy being the only ‘dentist’ available and my tooth throbbing with pain, I had not choice but visit him. When I entered the office he came in in a hurry, dressed in his running shoes and jogging suit. He threw on his dentist smock, and went right to deadening my mouth and gums. He left the office without saying a word, and only came back after an hour and a half. He told me to open my mouth, and proceeded to pull the tooth despite my screaming with pain.. My mouth was not deadened. I felt everything. When he finished, I was next to passing out. He put a tiny bit of gauze in my mouth and sent me out.

On the way home, my mouth began to bleed so intensely, I almost gagged on the gauze and blood. I pulled over and spat the thing out, and continued home. I figured my suffering was over and nothing could compare with this pain….Until the next day. I am not sure whether any of you has ever heard of ‘Dry Socket’, but if you have, then you know what I am talking about.

Dry Socket is a complication that sometimes occurs after a tooth is pulled. Dry Socket is a hole in the bone where the tooth was. After a tooth is pulled, a blood clot forms in the socket to protect the bone and nerves underneath. Sometimes that clot can become dislodged or dissolve a couple of days after the extraction. That leaves the bone and nerve exposed to air, food, fluid, and anything else that enters the mouth. (http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dry-socket-symptoms-and-treatment)

Usually this lasts up to six days. It lasted over two weeks for me. I called the dentist office the next day to see whether they could do anything to help. Usually a dentist can stitch the area and it is fine. The dentist retired the day after he pulled my tooth. This came as a surprise to his staff, as they had no idea of his plans. This came as a bigger surprise to me, as now I had nobody to help with the pain. I was instructed to take Motrin and relax. (the commercial “that’s Motrin Pain” became increasingly clear to me at this point, and I expected a television crew to show up any day to film my agony as part of a promotion of Motrin pain reliever,,,)

For two weeks I lay in bed, heavily sedated from the pain reliever. You are talking to a guy who gets drowsy taking tylenol here. After two weeks the pain eventually left, but my fear for dentists grew even greater.

This morning I had a dentist appointment to have another tooth removed. This one was on the other side of my mouth, another molar, same issue. One of the cavities that the nutcase dentist filled all those years ago fell out, and the tooth around it cracked, exposing the nerve. This time however, it was different.

In a true story I had written a while back about the scare I had with a Neuro-Phibular tumor in my face ( if you missed the story, here is a link), I explained how the nerves in my face were cluttered with tumor. Well today I found out that there are side effects from the surgery that I didn’t realize. Sure my face gets a little numb from time to time, and there are times where I cannot feel my right ear, but I never imagined that the surgical procedure the doctor did would have any adverse effects on the nerves in my gums. They did!

The dentist was unable to deaden my gums. She injected my gums and whatever other parts of the mouth the dentist deadens, and nothing. I felt everything. When she realized that I was nearly rising from the chair unknowingly, she stopped. She then injected yet more Novocaine into my gums (another needle, I am terrified of needles, even more so that that of dentists) and still nothing,. She left the room, telling me that she would give it more time, (what she was really doing was consulting with other dentists and her text books), and then coming in to check to see if it was dead yet. Still nothing. Sure my tongue was numb, but my gums around the cavity were still as sensitive as ever. I told her that my lips didn’t feel right, and when she asked what I meant, I said that they don’t feel  nothing like ‘Fat Albert’ lips. She began to laugh. Four needles later and still no numbness.

Maybe it was all the Novocaine, or my two phobias colliding, or a combination of both, but at that point, I began complimenting her on the beautiful eyes she had. I even asked if they were contacts or her natural eye color. Hitting on the dentist, that’s a new one for me, but when terrified, I have been known to do strange things.

Two more needles and still no deadening. Finally she decided to try something different. She injected the actual cavity with another needle, God knows what she put in there, but it hurt like hell. In minutes I did have Fat Albert lips, and my tongue felt like it was swollen twice the size. She didn’t hesitate to go to work on that tooth. “Pull the damn thing, I don’t care if you hit a nerve” I said bravely, but secretly I was praying to God, Allah, Buddah, and whoever would listen to give me the strength to get through this.

Strangely, I felt nothing. Sure I felt the pushing and twisting she was doing to loosen this tooth, but no pain. Finally, after two and a half hours of steady dentist pain, it was out. She said that she never seen much bleeding, so it was doubtful that I would experience Dry socket, but she left me her home and office number if it did.

This was the first time I ever went to a female dentist. I must admit, she was really something. When finished, she gave me a big hug, and told me that although she has only been practicing dentistry for one year, this would no doubt be one of those incidences that you will never forget.

“You won’t forget this one My Love, I am scheduled for a filling next week!” I assured her. I doubt she will be in town on that day.

As for my phobia, I believe that after all this, it will remain a phobia for quite some time. But she was cute, I will give you that…being male, I did what I could to put on my ‘brave face’, but I know she seen right through it. so much for overcoming fear by facing it

9 thoughts on “overcoming fear

  1. Maybe you didn’t overcome the fear, but you were able to get past it.
    Next time you need work like that done, maybe see if the do general anesthetic…

  2. I hate to correct you, but by not succumbing to your fear and going through the procedure, you did overcome it. The fear might be there, but it does not rule you.

    That is an inspiration and the definition of bravery.

  3. A tooth pulled without being numb! Ouch! And Ouch! (that was cringe worthy) I don’t like needles either (I have my dentist gas me before he gets a needle out!) and I personally would want something stronger than Motrin for the pain! (your commercial quip made me giggle, though) I think you should stick with hot~chick dentist – if you gotta be in the dentist chair at least you can enjoy the view!

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