I’m not scared of many things. But two things that petrify me are so common in the Phobia guidebook that it’s almost a cliche. Clowns and dentists.
The thing is–you don’t really ever have to go to the circus. Once you reach a certain age if you never propigate there is very little social obligation for you to endure a clown for any reason. But dentists are another story.
I haven’t been to the dentist in a very long time. I don’t generally tell people that because it’s a shameful secret that society frowns upon. Not going to the dentist is like having sex with hookers. You know a bunch of people conduct their life that way, but it’s far from something you brag about and definitely not something you want other people to know about you.
Six months ago my #31 molar broke. (It’s the one in the very back on the lower right hand side.) I was eating a salad, so clearly the tooth wasn’t up to that much. For six months I’ve dealt with it. I’ve chewed on my left hand side. I’ve drunk through straws. I’ve brushed my teeth rigourously and often.
In fact, that’s something I should clear up. I do take good care of my teeth. I brush and floss and use mouthwash and am very circumspect about them. I just don’t go to dentists. Because even driving by a dentist’s office can make me have an anxiety attack, complete with heart pounding in my throat and chest tightening into a visegrip. I figured as long as I brushed, flossed and stayed under 40 I’d be good.
Alas, my tooth broke right in sight of my 40th birthday. And after six months of pretending like everything was okay that side of my face started to swell and ache and–well…it was just gross. My husband reached over to comfort me on Saturday and felt the hard swollen lump and said “Oh my gosh!” And by 1:am on Sunday I knew that I couldn’t put off the dentist any longer.
So today I went for the first time in (let’s just say) a very long while. Thursday morning the tooth comes out in an oral surgeon’s office. Making up for lost time, by the end of the week I’ll have been to the dentist’s office no fewer than 3 times. I made it through the exam with the kind nurse patting me on the shoulder, my whole body shaking like a leaf. But once I got back there the one thing I know how to do–be a patient–kicked in and saw me through.
I’m still not believing this is all happening. I’m loaded up with painkillers and antibiotics for the abscess until Thursday morning. No one has mocked me and called me a loser. They’ve all been very kind. And now there are dental records if I die in a fire.