If you are scared to go to the dentist, this might not be a good post for you, or maybe it will. It’s hard for me to judge that, but be warned. First, I want to try to explain what anxiety feels like. As it got closer to the time of my appointment, I felt the anxiety start up, so I sat back and I listened to my body. Here’s what I felt…
I feel it in my chest, the top of my stomach, like having butterflies and being hungry at the same time. I feel it at the bottom of my throat, as if there is something there, like an air bubble. I feel it on my skin, like my arms and forehead are crawling. It almost feels like I’m sweating, but I’m not. I get light headed. It’s like vertigo when you look down from a high up place – your stomach drops and you feel dizzy.
Stage two was when I got to the dentist office. I feel like I could cry… but I don’t. My face gets red. In most situations that I face, even if actually doing fine and I’m not upset, my anxiety will create red splotches. It makes me feel embarrassed because I can only imagine what other people are thinking. Some people may think I’m upset, have been crying, or am blushing because I’m turned on… but it’s not that. It’s the anxiety. Sometimes the anxiety stems from something good – anticipation but more intense.
I try to ignore it and take my mine of it, but it’s there anyway. When it gets stronger (stage three), I start to hesitate and want to back out of whatever is causing it, but I fight hard not to. I usually face it and deal with it in my own way. I feel like I have a ton of energy that I need to expel; so I clean, fidget, bounce my knee furiously, and sometimes stutter or can’t focus. I start to feel like I’ll explode (either in tears or anger or both). I get very sensitive emotionally and easily angered or upset. In most stage three situations, I do just fine. It’s not a good feeling, but I generally can talk to myself logically (my inner voice), choose to react in a positive way despite how I feel. Sometimes I write about it to release it, or I talk to my friends. This is where having good friends is key ❤ I love you guys!
If it gets real bad (stage four), my hands shake and eventually I can’t breath and that’s when the real panic attack starts. Depending on the type of anxiety, I might go stage five, which I struggle with controlling. I may turn white, stop talking, and my vision gets a black border. I might actually freak out, cry, or what not. Maybe pass out if it’s fear based anxiety. Yes, there are different types of anxiety – fear, dread, anticipation, worry, excitement, anger, etc.
Most of the time, I stay in the realm of stage 1 and 2, and sometimes I end up in stage 3, less frequently is 4, and stage 5 is usually situations like today. A long long time ago, I had a very bad dentist experience. He screwed up my wisdom tooth and I had the worst pain I had ever felt. It ranks up there with my dermoid cyst and ovary removal which tried to kill me. Those were the worst pains I’d ever felt. It rooted a deep fear of going to the dentist… but this time, I was brave. I even braved it alone. A friend took me there and was there for me, but I walked into the dentist office alone. I waited alone. I went back alone. I had that evil wisdom tooth pulled alone (well, there were the dentist’s staff there).
The staff was fantastic and they treated me very well. I was happy with the service. It was extremely hard for me. I had a pretty nasty infection, which they told me upfront that it was going to be hard to anesthetize it. She said the infection would eat away at the anesthesia. So they wanted to give me a good amount and then quickly pull the tooth. My tooth was super wiggly, so we all agreed that it would take less than a minute to pull it. Pulling the tooth out took about 5 seconds… no joke. I felt the pressure and some pain, but it was nothing. That was the easiest part.
However, the hard part was the anesthesia. First, let me say that it only lasted a few seconds. I did not expect the pain that I got. I got three injections and she was very close to the nerves. It shocked my lips and my tongue, like someone zapped it with electricity or cut my lip. It was not pleasant and it was sharp. But it was quick and it did not linger. It drove my anxiety off the roof. Yep, I had tears on my face. It sucked. Yes, I was shaking pretty bad and my breathing was erratic. I did my best to quell it and stay still, and I must say that I did a fine job. I did NOT freak out and create a fuss, no one had to hold me down. I do work hard to manage my anxiety without drugs (Nope, I don’t take meds for my anxiety). They did everything right in comforting me and making me feel safe.
After the procedure, I was shaking for about an hour afterwards. The doctor wants to do a deep cleaning and he wants to prescribe me a Valium to take for that visit. He said they couldn’t do it for this visit because the tooth needed to come out now, but that it will calm my anxiety and they’ll be able to do what they need without me having to go through so much stress. I agreed of course. I don’t medicate my anxiety as a regular thing, but I think in this situation, it’s perfectly fine! I definitely want it. He said that I’d be out of it for a couple of days though. We’re going to meet in two weeks just for a simple cleaning and evaluation, to see how I’m doing.
They said I did very well considering my anxiety disorder. I feel pretty proud of myself. It’s a huge win for me and I got rid of that damn tooth! Oh and they said I have a small mouth. It was funny at the time. I’m sure my dirty minded friends will get a kick out of that!