Almost unconsciously I am getting myself in order. I have begun following up on referrals for scans given to me eight or nine months ago. Not scary scans – just scans for my lower back/leg thing and bone density in relation to longterm breast feeding (low calcium…) The things I have been waiting for my tax return to cover.
And teeth. I had not been to the dentist for five and a half years. Some people might gasp at that; others won’t think it’s weird at all. M told me that you could go the dentist down the street and just get your teeth cleaned…for a hundred dollars or so. Not inspected with a sharp implement – just cleaned.
So I did. My appointment was last Saturday morning. I filled out the information form in the waiting room confirming all my personal details. At the end of the form it said; “Are there any other issues you would like to make us aware of in relation to having dental treatment?”
I wrote, “I don’t like it ”
When I got into the room and settled back on the chair, the hygienist and the dental nurse told me they loved my comment. They did their best to calm me. I like to think I am pretty good with pain – drugfree childbirth? Done it twice. But the feeling of someone poking about with a noisy instrument in my mouth, unpredictably contacting a sensitive area…does my head in.
I told them that I had never had my teeth cleaned without having anaesthetic injections. I could almost feel their internalised eyeballing. I tried to convince them of my terror and explained that not only had I endured braces for three years, but I had four teeth pulled out at the age of ten…four health teeth, in preparation for the braces.
“Trauma,” nodded the nurse, “a lot of people have difficulty…”
“Just remember to breathe and relax,” said the hygienist, snapping on her gloves with unnecessary vigour.
I lay like an iron rod with zero respiratory function.
“Wiggle your toes,” instructed the hygienist, “and breathe!”
Wiggling my toes was actually helpful. Did you know you’re supposed to wiggle your toes if you really need to urinate – the nerves are the same as those to the bladder, so the wee-urge gets distracted by toe-wiggle…or so a physiotherapist once told me.
“Raise your hand if you need a break,” she said, as I tried to resist another full body spasm. She wasn’t causing me extreme pain, but I was being poked in places that made me jump. She stopped.
“You’re doing really well. But – you’re going to have to try and stay still. This thing is sharp and I don’t want to go through your cheek…”
She started back up and I aimed for semi-comatose. My toes wiggling overtime. Trying to breathe slowly through my nose. Thinking that this really wasn’t much to endure in the scheme of things. Finally she stopped – it had been seventeen minutes and $120. I rinsed and spat, expecting blobs of blood…but the water was clear.
“I’ve done what I can today, but I’d like to finish the clean. Sometimes you can have holes in between your teeth that you can only see on x-rays. So…go to your doctor and ask for a prescription for some valium, and before you come back next time, take half a tablet – also, do you have an iPod?”
“Bring that and listen to something that you like while I do the rest of the clean. OK?”
I staggered out feeling orally violated. And mentally torn – did she really think I needed to go back, or was that just evil up-selling? I am as suspicious of dentists as I am of real estate agents – they have to all encourage you in order to reap more profit. Grrrr. And valium. Valium? That is just too weird…
My appointment is not until mid-March. I asked the ladies at my work yesterday about the valium (we work for a medical specialist). “Oh, don’t worry about getting a prescription said S, “I told X that I was nervous when I had to fly to Sydney last week and he said he’d give me something MUCH better than valium… I’ve got one left – you can have it.”
I am now the proud owner of one 2mg tablet of clonazepam – used for epilepsy and, apparently, anxiety. It is also known as Rivotril or Paxam. I often wonder about the freaky people whose job it is to name medications – there are very few poets among them.
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