I had a dentist appointment at 10:00 am a few Fridays ago. Around 8:30 that morning, I began to have slight nerves. It was the second appointment to complete putting a new crown in. The last appointment should have lasted an hour but instead it was an excruciating three hours. I now have secure knowledge that I am completely claustrophobic of being trapped in a dental chair with two people in my grill, especially when the drill comes out. (The other most important fact I learned: it takes an hour for Xanax to kick in completely.)
And I judge myself for this.
I have judged myself that I can't buck up, and get through. Everyone else can, right? At times, there is a constant belittling of myself in my mind that I'm not enough. I have awareness of this voice now, and that awareness is the beginning of extinguishing it. And I do so, bit by bit.
It has become apparent that I need "help" to get through dental work over the last few years. I had a panic attack towards the end of a root canal over a year ago because my Xanax dose wasn't appropriate. I bared through until the end because I knew the dentist was almost finished and he would have had to start over. So for this first crown appointment, I took the right dosage but only around 15-20 minutes before I left. I didn't know that I needed an hour.
I just didn't know.
And I judged myself.
As they bustled around me, shots were injected, preparations made and the drill ran to remove the injured tooth came out and, I put my hand up and said I can't do this. I was having full out panic. It feels like the world is closing in and all I want to do is escape. And there was no way, I could gut through it this time. I couldn't breath my way through, I couldn't think positive thoughts. I couldn't imagine happy places and I said no.
Even though we waited over an hour for the medicine to kick in, I still couldn't do it. It's like the full out panic killed the Xanax.
So after my Dr. consulted another physician, our next step was nitrous oxide. I hadn't ever used laughing gas but I knew this work had to be done, and that I shouldn't leave without completing it. It had been hard to come to this appointment. So on comes the small nose mask. (I also don't like being put under either so this was trippy as well) I couldn't stop talking at this point to focus on breathing the gas in as I should have. But you see, the floodgates had opened and my "secret" was out, and it was "way out" and I could talk about it now. There had been a miscommunication with my dentist about dental anxiety and this lack of communication bothered me. In order to clear it up, I would have had to speak up, take up his time and admit my weakness. During a call to reschedule the crown appointment because I didn't want to go back in, I talked to one of his assistants about my anxiety. Turns out she had done a lot of research because her son has it as well, and she was the one who helped get me back into the chair. At least one person in the office understood and that helped. But I still hadn't talked to the dentist.
And I still haven't. And that is okay. I spoke up. I imagine picture perfect scenarios and conversations where I speak my truth and my feelings bravely and eloquently and the other person totally gets it and embraces me (HA HA HA) That is not reality. It's more about setting boundaries and if those aren't respected, you have to back away.
The Dentist doesn't have to understand everything about me. I just have to raise my hand and say, I can't do this. Let's figure out another way.
This is called a boundary.
And it doesn't matter if the other person understands my feelings or not. Not everyone is going to understand and that's the whole point of why you have the boundary in the first place.
This is where I am at this stage of life. I stayed quiet a long time and never wanted to rock the boat. But that is unsufferable. If I don't speak up for myself, who will?
I have pushed myself to do things I never thought I would ever do. Plenty of uncomfortable feelings, have been gutted through. But I will not do so anymore in the dental chair. I will take whatever medicine works and am thankful for it's existence.
And I'm beginning to lessen the judgment.
And in a most unexpected fashion, at the end of the last appointment, I had THE best conversation with my dentist, not about anxiety, but about spiritual practices and the Trinity. I was not anticipating this scenario at all. I simply adore talking about spiritual practices with like minded persons.
Life is full of surprises. This was one of them. I call them God Winks.