Monday, August 23, 2010

Conversation in the Chair...
Photo Credit

One of the purposes of this blog is that I get to vent about my medical experiences and it definitely helps. :)

It never fails.

As soon as I open the inside door ...that odor ... the one unique to any dental office I've ever been in ...assaults my mind at the first inhale. It sets the tone for what is to come.

Dental anxiety officially activated.

I am usually a social creature in any medical office waiting room. But, today I realized that I don't do any chatting with any patients ..ever, when in the dentist's office. Instead I go as far away as I can and actually round the corner of the waiting room and sit in the chair farthest away and right near the window. Today, I had the thought that the window could be my great escape route.

And I was only in for a checkup and cleaning.


After waiting a bit, I went up to the desk to let them know I was using the rest room. The hygienist was there and said "Take your time." I said "Thank you and no rush to get me in ..I have a good book with me."

WHAT was I thinking?

Stalling only prolongs the inevitable and I DON'T like being in the dentist office ..even with the pretty decor and wide screen HD TV.

This SeaSpray apparently has a very strong trait of denial capability coursing through her veins.

(When my labor stalled with my first child, they put me on the Pitocin to get my contractions going. After a bit the nurse came in and asked me if the contractions were getting stronger. I was comfortably propped up, flipping magazine pages ...while sucking on my little lemon lollipop when I assuredly said "Oh yes ...they are." Bold faced lie on my part. But one born out of abject fear that came over me in that instant. And the nurse came back in not long after and increased it. But I digress.)

Then I was called in.

Frankly ...I think the right of passage into any ..and I do mean any dental office exam room matter what is being done ...should be that you are given a whiff of the nitrous oxide before entering right at the doorway. Okay ..I know that probably isn't the best way to go. The patient should be sitting in the dental chair first. Then give the laughing gas. I think all patients should be able to laugh their way through a dental appointment. Being an amnesiac or knocking you out would be good too.

(I had it once when I was 14. I don't remember laughing though. I inhaled in a mask and then I woke up when it was over. I don't know why he gave it to me because I never had anything bigger than a root canal done.)

Anyway ...this laughing gas I speak of should be mandatory upon sitting in the chair, I say.

Waking up when the work is done would be great. Then no one would ever have to have anxiety over the dental office experience.

18 sets of x-rays today. I don't remember ever getting that many in one sitting. She said they do it every 5 yrs. They never did it with me. Just the usual amount. I was wondering if I had the world's tiniest mouth having to accommodate the world's largest card board thingies. Sorry ..don't know what they call them. X-ray cards?

The reason I am afraid of even the checkup is because you never know when the hygienist will probe a SENSITIVE spot with that God awful instrument she uses. Like Russian roulette. The suspense is awful and I brace for the moment ..fingers ready to gouge into the chair.

(I have found that it helps if I breathe through some urology procedures. Okay it's always good to breathe. I mean using a breathing technique like when in labor. Actually, it was my urologist who first suggested it when I was having a difficult time relaxing. Hey ...I can certainly relax with the best of em ...but not when it involves my urethra ..I'm just saying. So breathing like that enabled me to focus on breathing and not discomfort and I relaxed... as much as one can in that situation. It worked like a charm. )

Somehow though ...I think that would be counterproductive during a dental procedure. But what can you do for distraction in the dental chair?

The following is the initial conversation between the hygienist and me today:

Me - "Hi."

Hygienist - "Hi ..are you ready?"

"What IS that odor that I smell every time I walk in to this office?" (Great conversation starter SeaSpray. Insult the staff about the office when they have dental tools at their disposal.)

"Odor? I never smell anything."

"I smell it in every dental office. (Good ..diffuse the insult) You're probably used to it."

"Maybe it's the cloths. They have a strong smell" (I think she said cloths ..but I let it go. So I still don't know what it is.)

Hygienist - "So! Are you still nursing?"

Me - "Nursing? Oh ..I haven't nursed in years!"


"Wait a minute aren't talking about breastfeeding are you?"


"Are you thinking I'm a nurse?"


"Oh n-o-o-o ...I pushed the papers for the ER."

Now laughing ..."I was WONDERING ...because my older son just turned 30 and my younger one will be 22 soon. I was gonna say! But I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I could."

Simultaneous laughing she came at me with the scaling instrument and so the Dental Roulette began.

But actually ..the hearty laughter DID relax me considerably first... then I braced.

There is something to be said for the positive effects of laughter.

And per my dentist "Everything looks good."


StorytellERdoc said...


Right on the money...from the get-go about the smell of the dentist office, you had me reading.

Hope this finds you well. well done.


SeaSpray said...

Hi Jim - Thanks.

Hope you're doing well too. :)