When I was 7 years old, my parents took me to an orthodontist to be fitted for a retainer that would be attached to my mouth. The kind that I wouldn't have to take in and out. I'm not exactly sure how this would work, but that is what I understand the goal was. I had always been afraid of the dentist and on this day I forgot to bring my favorite stuffed animal (which I still have by the way) so my mom ran back to our house to get it. While she was gone, the dental assistant was fitting me for the ring that wrapped around the tooth. It was much too tight, so as she pulled the ring off it popped off, out of her hand and onto the back of my tongue. This caused some sort of reflex and I took a deep breath in and down my throat the ring went. I started coughing and jumped up out of the chair and couldn't catch my breath. At one point I was coughing up blood.
I remember this all so vividly. After a few minutes I stopped coughing and calmed down. My mom returned at some point and it was determined that she needed to take me to the hospital. I sort of remember the drive there, but I especially remember being behind the curtain on the hospital bed and desperately trying not to have to get an IV. I remember being so upset about it and then starting to cough and felt the ring move. They did an x-ray and saw that the ring was in my esophagus and determined that I had to have surgery. The plan was to go down my throat with a tube-like vacuum and slowly suck the ring and pull it out. This was the only option that did not include cutting my throat open.
So the procedure was a success. The doctor pulled the ring out without having to cut me at all. I remember waking up and coming out of the anesthesia. The first words out of my mouth were "is it out?"
Needless to say, I have been petrified of the dentist for most of my life. In 2007, after nearly or even over 10 years I can't really be sure, I decided that I really needed to go to the dentist. I started to worry about the health of my mouth and since I had quit smoking, I thought that going to get my teeth cleaned would feel like a great triumph. I went and had no cavities! And the dentist thought that my teeth looked great! I was so afraid of what would happen, and I was pleasantly surprised. Fast forward 3 years (last week) and I'm at my 6 month cleaning. I hear the worst words I have heard in years...
"You have a cavity"
Yikes! What? My teeth are magically perfect regardless of my 10+ years of neglect. I can't have a cavity! And then it hit me. I have to get a filling! Ahhh! This was very scary stuff for me. I started to freak out. When I scheduled the appointment I thought (or hoped) that the hygienist wanted to schedule it for October, perhaps to let myself warm up to the idea. No way, she meant September 8th.
So I completely disassociated myself with the fact that I would be returning to the other side of the dentist building and enjoyed my birthday weekend. Last night I woke up and fought off my desire to google "cavity fillings" and tossed and turned. I went into the office sweaty palmed and nervous. I kept telling myself that I survived many of these when I was younger, so this would be easy. Plus since I didn't feel any pain, I figured it wasn't a terrible cavity.
The dentist was awesome. He told me it was a small cavity and that it wouldn't take long and my teeth look great and so on. He was extremely professional and the whole process was over before I knew it. What a relief! I was petrified of something and faced my fears. I am so grateful that I didn't have a cavity on that first visit and I kept going back. I'm so glad that my dentist is awesome and calming. When it was all said and done I said to him, "well that was painless" and he said "that's the way it should be". That is so true.
So maybe I'll consider getting my wisdom teeth taken out next. Baby steps friends, baby steps.