Oh how I long for the boring, uneventful days where life just goes on with no excitement, no worries and no catastrophes. The days where everyone goes about his/her own business without a care in the world. Nice dream, eh? It seems, for me, life is all about drama and things crashing down all around me…and honestly, it’s exhausting.
Just when I thought things are starting to return to “normal”, life is right there waiting with yet another hard punch. This time…it’s all about me. I went to work last Tuesday like any other day, but by the time 1st break rolled around, I was in a tremendous amount of pain. For the remainder of the day, I was popping Advil like Smarties just to make it to the end of my shift. All I could think about was getting home so that I could take something stronger to really kill the pain. That night, I went to bed knowing in the back of my mind what I was most likely up against. By the time I woke up the next morning, the right side of my face had swollen up like a balloon. It was fat and hard and went from my eye to my jawline and my ear to the middle of my upper lip…literally the entire right side of my face. There was no doubt I had a massive abscess. The pain was unbearable. That’s when the fear set in…I had no choice but to call a dentist.
It took every ounce of strength in me to make that call and the paralyzing fear that I had buried for so many years came rushing back like water breaking through the Hoover Dam. My heart was racing and I was starting to panic. Suddenly, I was reduced to that 10 year old kid who was being abused not only by a “family” member, but also by the butcher dentist she was taking me to. How anyone in a “professional” role can do the things he had done to me…a terrified little kid…reaches far beyond my comprehension. They both succeeded in planting and watering the seed which developed into a lifelong traumatizing fear of, not only dentists (although they are the biggest fear), but of healthcare providers in general. Kind of ironic, don’t ya think, that I became a nurse?!?!?! Makes me laugh…a lot!!!
So, later that day, reluctantly off I go to the dentist. I told the woman at the front desk of my fear and neglect at going to the dentist and she assured me that the nice female dentist I was going to see was very gentle. I thanked her for that, although it didn’t really do much to calm my fears. When they called my name, I wanted to vomit. I stood up and started to follow her back…my legs felt as though they each had 100lb weights chained to them. Just seeing that chair made me panic and sweat. As I sat in the chair with white knuckles gripping the arms, Xrays were taken and then the “nice gentle” dentist walked in…she looked like she was 12!!! Once again…panic!!! In all honesty, she was very nice…and gentle…and she was probably in her mid to late 20’s. Still young, right?!?!?! They say it’s good to have young “newbies” because they have all the latest training…but sometimes there is something to be said for old and experienced. Needless to say, she prescribed me 2 antibiotics and an anti inflammatory/pain killer. Then she said I needed to come back once they are done for an extraction…oh God!!!!
Fear is such a powerful emotion! Often it is a good thing. It protects us…steers us away from danger and helps keep us safe. It motivates us…propels us forward so that we grow and learn and eventually become stronger. But fear can also be debilitating and detrimental causing us to withdraw, feel small and sometimes become physically/mentally unwell. Regardless of the cause, fear is such a difficult thing to manage and ultimately overcome. It is all a work in progress and as long as we continue in a forward motion…even if it’s by the tiniest little step…we will eventually get there.