THE DENTAL CHAIR

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A drive to the city for a periodontal cleaning also means a milligram of Xanax. City driving plus sitting back, or lying back as someone hovers over me, causes a flashback in body memory. My mind, soul or spirit, will not allow the most violent memory to surface. Yet it lies there inside ready to strike and the dental chair brings it so close to the surface. This terror gets harder to bear as the years’ progress.

When actual work is done, more now as my teeth grow old with me, I need more Xanax than a horse. My nervous system is shot, goes through the roof to another galaxy. I need to be driven as I’m too drugged to drive. I am grateful for all who help, the driver, the assistant, the dentist.

As I sat in the chair, the dental assistant, an older, experienced woman, asks, “How are you doing?”

I bend over and sob. They both got right to work. Thankfully that load of Xanax causes a memory lapse. The next thing I remember is slobbering all over the dentist telling him how wonderful he is, and the receptionists too. Ok, not slobbering but radiating relief.  

And in this process I’ve had to ask for help, a good exercise for one who tends not to ask things of others. 

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11 thoughts on “THE DENTAL CHAIR

  1. I have the same thing happen to me when I am in the dentist chair. I keep it to myself and just dissociate during the experience. I would like to share with the dentist. I never thought of taking anything to help alleviate the flashbacks and distress. I will need to think about what I need to do to take care of myself gently during these appointments. Thanks

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  2. I’m terrified of the dentist. I have a wonderful dentist, now, who actually specializes in patients who are afraid of the dentist. I still cancel for no reason, avoid going, freak out, have panic attacks. I dissociate when I’m there. I never linked my past with the dentist until I read this. Now I wonder. Maybe this, too, can be helped, worked through so it’s not as terrifying and I don’t have to keep canceling and feeling like a naughty child every time I cancel. Ugh.

    I’m sorry for this, for you, but I’m really so very thankful for all that you are willing to share.

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  3. I only learnt very recently of why I have always been so terrified of doctor’s and dentist’s appointments! Could never understands irrational fears! Of course now it’s very clear, the helplessness if lying there on the dentist chair brings the abuse and all the feelings surrounded it back to me!! Pap smears!!!! Oh my God! How excruciating they are! I was actually going to post something about my last Pap smear test, you have inspired me to write that post! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Back when my anxiety was very high, I was on 8 mg of Xanax a day and I was still driving. I had four auto accidents in two months. When I ran out before my prescription was refilled, the withdrawal was horrible. Now I take 1mg of Clonazepam during the day, and 3mg at bedtime for a behavioral sleep disorder I have. Also, I no longer drive.

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  5. It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve gone to the dentist. The last time I went I broke down in tears for no reason. Then I got really irritable and told them I’m never coming back. omg, I was/am so embarrassed. My hubby told me to swallow my pride….ughhhhh

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    1. Well, can you think of any ways to be supported enough to the point of starting with a cleaning and check-up. Take a friend and insist she/he come in with you during the visit? You may be surprised how others will accommodate requests. And dentists know all about fear. At first they thought it was about having a bad experience, which they hear often. So if you don’t want to share specifics, that works. They already know many others are very scared.
      So if you could think of ways that may help you get there and stay there at least for a cleaning, that would be a great start…??

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      1. I never had a problem with going before a couple of years ago…so I really don’t get what happened for me. But I just have to get there, not really a problem staying. At least I don’t think it is. I haven’t been to any of my doctors since April…it doesn’t seem like that long ago but I guess it has been! Thanks, I will ponder this 🙂

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