DENTAL FUCKING TERROR

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Why does it have to be so excruciatingly hard to speak up, ask questions, expect respect? Is it really just a muscle that hasn’t been worked— assertiveness? I can fight for my kids, but for me? Forget it.

Is it a part smashed that can never be healed or put back together again, like Humpty-Dumpty? I know what was taken was taken for good… trust, and innocence. But in addition, my voice. I just cannot speak up for myself.

I was taught not to. That lesson eviscerated my spiritual soul, especially when I am vulnerable. Lying back in a dentist’s chair, I am a little girl. I’m being hovered over and abused.

I am meek, scared, hurt and quiet. The repressed memory of a rape that I know occurred, but my subconscious won’t allow memory of, swims below ready to strike like a pool of piranhas.

And others take advantage, even my beloved periodontist. I relay to her that Dr. John said only, “Have ‘her’ take care of it.”

And that’s all he said, not even looking at me as if I existed. He does not explain why he put medication under my gum line. And that was only after finally figuring out why I complained of pain after the last three dental cleanings over the past year. He just says to my hygienist, “Have her take of it.”

Indicating that I go to my periodontist, that is if I were able to read his mind. After the medication wears off a few months later, I do go. Dr. John never explained how soon to see my periodontist after the medication was implanted, nothing. And when I make the appointment, I asked if he sent along the most recent x-rays. He didn’t.

When Dr. Julie, my periodontist, examined me, I relay that Dr. John saw a crack. So she breezily says, “You’ll need gum surgery and I’ll place a graft in there. I’ll also have you sign a release to extract the tooth if needed, but I don’t think it’s that.”

Just like that. I am mute. I go home. And I cry. Dr. John never even sent her a note as to why he referred me there. So when I relay what he said about a crack, Dr. Julie had me sign a release to pull it if she has to. And I did like an obedient child, though something in me was clawing in opposition.

Pull it? Do you not know how fucking hard it is to lie there as you cut me apart, or drill, or whatever fucking whatever? Now you casually say, “And I’ll pull it if need be.” Fuck, what?

But I am mute. And I suffer, and cry, and talk to Samuel who doesn’t know what to say. And if anything seems to make matters worse by suggesting that maybe Dr. John thought I was too medicated to understand.

That only makes me furious with Samuel, “I take Xanax for cleanings at this new place only because the hygienist is so hyper it makes me hyper. I am not a nut case. When I take it, it only calms me to a place you and others are already at. It doesn’t make me loopy. It just calms my nervous system that has launched into the stratosphere. You’ve known me all this time. You know it doesn’t change me. Only when I take a whopping dose to have medical procedures or more complex dental work! How can you say that!”

I give up on him disgusted with his ignorance, and his inability to understand or even try to. The emotions diffuse like melting ice or a cooling volcano as I back away. I need a therapist. I need support.

I cry on the phone to my son on his way to work, even though everything in me tells me not to. He gets to the door of his building in the city with a crying Mother on his hands, and we say good-bye. Now I have to deal with that guilt all day.

But his calm ways, and wise words spur me to call the dentist whose office happens to be closed on Fridays. But I keep at it and call the periodontist.

“Hi, it’s Tracy,” she says.

“Hi Tracy, this is Patricia. I hoped to talk to Dr. Julie Tuesday keeping the phone with me all day in case she called.” I said.

“Oh, I’d give you her cell phone number but she’s at the other office today and she is extremely busy there. Can I help you?” she responds, and her voice sounds as if she means it.

I breathe some relief in and pour out my heart. Between sobs she says, “Take a breath.”

And I do. Then she explains what is going on in my mouth because no one has explained it at all.  

I keep thinking all this is on me. Because I don’t ask questions, they hide in my head, my voice mute. And I’m sure my eyes are full of fear. Maybe that makes them both not talk to me. But I’m not buying it. No matter how scared I am, or how young I might act, it is up to you to explain things to me anyway. 

So Dr. Julie did finally talk to Dr. John and the crack isn’t the tooth but a small crack in a filling on the neighboring tooth. No release for a possible extraction was needed at all which added to my terror ten-fold, terror upon terror. All that could have been avoided if Dr. Fucking John had simply done his job by sending a short note.

My beloved Dr. Julie should have spoken with him first before so easily asking me to sign a release for an extraction, as if it happens every day. It may in her world, but never mine. Losing a body part, even a tooth, would have caused months of emotional pain and loss afterwards. She based it solely on my passing on what I overheard him saying about a crack. A crack that he never bothered to explain to me was in a filling, not a tooth.

He hasn’t the time to talk. With sweat on his brow as his hurriedly does examinations after each cleaning, it’s easy to see he just wants to return to the patient he was working on. That adds to my hesitancy to ask questions. 

So she did what was easiest for her rather than checking with him first. Do I have DOORMAT stapled on my forehead? Often I think I do. I give off this false niceness implanted into me, like a captured prisoner who leans on her captors loving them. The signs shouts, DO WHATEVER YOU WANT. I WILL SMILE AND THANK YOU FOR IT. 

I did say to her, “I don’t know what tooth he was talking about. You’d have to talk to him.”

And she should have. I could have insisted, but who would think they have to tell their specialist to confer with the referring doctor? That is not my job. That is THEIR  fucking job. Dam, fucking, dam. 

How can so much bad care be given to just one person? I need to speak up! Yet I know that when I am vulnerable, in pain, and in that position, that I won’t. I cannot. It is only afterwards at home that the big person comes out to protect little Patricia, because I am all child in that chair.

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14 thoughts on “DENTAL FUCKING TERROR

  1. I understand completely. Advocating for ourselves is a whole different story, especially if you have had trauma in your past. And because you understand how it feels not to have a voice, your voice is powerful for your children. You are doing great! Really!

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    1. Thank you. I called the periodontist this morning and insisted the release be taken out of my records. It was exhausting because others are so bent on pushing forward their own stories. I had to keep repeating how I felt, why, and what I expected next.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I completely understand. I also wear that sign, stapled to my forehead, that says “DOORMAT” when it comes to men. I had a similar experience with my dentist. He just looked in my mouth, said he wasn’t going to touch them, put me on Tylenol 3, and told me to go to an oral surgeon. Which one? I should ask, but I don’t. What do they need to do?, he didn’t say, and I ended up having two adjoining molars extracted, while fully awake. I was just thinking this morning that I need to make an appointment, but I have yet to call…

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  3. Oh, I am so with you, girlfriend. I won’t go into my nightmare dental experiences, but I hear you.

    Much to my surprise, I learned only in the last few years that there are incompetent doctors, bad doctors, burned-out doctors, unethical doctors, doctors not paying attention and making big mistakes, all kinds of medical professionals doing the not-right thing, in addition to the no-doubt many good doctors out there. For so long, I thought they were all perfect. Ha! Don’t get me started.

    Anyway, I so understand the mute response. (I actually think a lot of people who didn’t even have our type of childhoods mutely go along with what doctors, etc. say.) We “survived” by being mute once upon a time. I did anyway. So it’s no wonder we fall back into that mode. But look what you did. You were terrific! You followed up on this. You took care of you and made sure you would be safe. The other people did the wrong thing. You did the right thing. Yay!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you so much.
      I slept so much better last night.
      Even the periodontist I love seems to be overworking herself which must be why she took the shortcut she shouldn’t have.
      Can’t people make a little less money so that they can enjoy their lives and be less stressed?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s called “treat em and street em”. See how many patients I can see in one day, $$$$. Patient care? No, I don’t have time for that, see my assistant maybe she/he will.

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  5. I love this. Is it okay for me to say that? I mean you’re struggling with dental hell and yet you captured it completely. “Dr. Fucking John!” Yes! Dr. Fucking John! I mean really!? What is his deal?

    And the shame spiral, oh, Patricia, the wretched shame spiral. If only you had spoken up you wouldn’t be panicked. If only you had been a better woman you’d have felt okay. If only … but the thing is — dental work is a huge huge huge trigger for sexual abuse survivors. Right?! Having your body meddled with is a huge trigger. I am so frightened and distrust everyone who wants to help me with my body. Really, I am. And dental work is so scary. So it is complex. Right?

    I think you’re doing great. I think you’re doing your best to advocate for yourself. I think we need to keep telling ourselves that it’s smart to ask questions. But, dear God I know that feeling — of standing there thinking, “I don’t want to sign this paper.” Or, “I don’t understand. I want to ask questions. I want it explained. I want to say NO!” But not doing it and knowing you’re going to feel terrible after because you didn’t listen to your gut in the moment and then having to deal with feeling so so awful after because you knew you should have trusted yourself but were too afraid to. I hate that. I hate it because in the moment I even know what I need to do to take care of myself but I don’t do it anyway. Sigh.

    Before Ironman my legs were terribly crampy. I have a massage therapist I use occasionally at home but only if Rob goes with me and has a massage next to me on another table. We didn’t have time so I kept saying I’d let it go. When I got to Texas my legs felt like lead so I finally accepted I needed to have someone help me. I made an appointment at a place that felt okay to me. I had this woman come in and she was seriously scary. She kept saying she only works with athletes and that she has super, super strong hands. Everyone in town knows that there are thousands of people there for the Ironman so she was well aware of why I was there. I said, “I really don’t need deep body work, I just need you to flush the sludge out of my legs.” She didn’t listen. She wanted to show off her athletic expertise (which upon hindsight she truly didn’t have). She kept digging in and I had to keep saying, “That’s too much pressure. I can’t have you work my body that much. I don’t have time to recover from the work.” She kept saying I had 72 hours to recover and I kept saying I had 48 and that wasn’t enough time. I just stayed on that table in a panicked sweat, afraid that she’d destroy months of training and I was mad at myself that I wasn’t telling her to get the fuck off of my body. I tried. I did, but I didn’t do a good enough job.

    There is this balance between believing — no one knows my body as well as I do — and giving our power away to the experts. How do we know when to trust the experts and when to trust ourselves. Who knows better? If I intervene with the expert will I not be taken care of. Will I suffer more? If I trust the expert will they hurt me? I don’t think I will ever figure this out. But I will think of you and Dr. Fucking John always when I am in this situation. I will breathe and try my best to not judge myself for trying my best to take care of myself. It’s not my job to take care of the experts. It’s my job to take care of myself. Even if that means offending someone. I still have to take that risk.

    Love you, Patricia. Take care of those teeth! XOXOOX

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      1. Yes! Thank you. I did! She was the dragon lady. Ha — that’s perfect!! It was such a celebratory day. Crazy weather ranging from 100 degree heat to pretty much a monsoon — they made us stop the run bc the finish line blew away. I had 5 miles left and had to stop dead in my tracks standing in poopy water with tons of people for a long time. Nuts! But I’m feeling proud and accomplished. Trying to write about it now but I always struggle with that. 😘

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