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Friday, August 18, 2017

2 words you never want to hear your dentist say

Oops and uh oh
Yes, I know I'm crazy. We have 8 kids, and for some people that in itself makes us worthy of the title of crazy. So even though I freely admit that I'm that kind of crazy, I'm not really crazy-crazy if you know what I mean.
That is until yesterday.

Right off the bat I'll admit that I'm not sure why I'm sharing this story. I think it's likely a ploy to get a bunch of people to reach out and commiserate with me... tell me it's okay and share my tears. Tell me I'm not as crazy-crazy as it felt. And, yes, there were tears. Lots of them.

Secondly, a disclaimer. I don't claim that any this story is accurate. With the state of things as they were, the crazy-crazy part, my mind was not actually firing on all cylinders. At all. That's kinda the whole point of the story. So I have no idea if what I remember actually happened the way I remember it or not.

That being said, I'm getting old, and evidently the universe needed to remind about the concrete reality of such horrible things. About a year ago at a routine cleaning, my dentist discovered that I had a huge cavity underneath a crown that I had gotten about 10 years prior. Pause here. Yes, it's actually possible to get a huge cavity, that you know nothing about, under a crown. Because there had been a root canal there was no feeling in this tooth, and thus I never felt or suspected a thing. The cavity was so bad that it had eaten about 1/3 of the tooth above the gum line and a good chunk of it under the gum line too. The only solution was to remove the tooth. Getting old is awesome. Not.

Enter the oral surgeon who will from here on out be referred to as OS.

OS proposed that since I'm not that old, (And really, this is the only good part of this story.) that he extract the bad tooth and replace it with an implant. A fake tooth... the first of many fake body parts I assume old people require.

Now, did I mention the part about my dental anxiety? No, I don't think I did. Well, yes, I have real anxiety in relation to anything that has to do with dentists. Like I'm kinda afraid I'm going to die. Irrational? Yes. But it's my reality so I have to deal with it. My family has really strong teeth that are hard to remove when they need to be. Like, let's-just-leave-those-wisdom-teeth-in-there strong. And there may or may not have been a few times in my childhood when I bit the dentist and or the assistant from what in hind sight was fear. Throughout my adult life, I've been able to keep this dentist anxiety under control-ish, and usually the only sign the dentist sees is my clenched fists as he works. But the universe decided it was time to kick it up a notch with OS.

It was a 3 part treatment plan to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant. During the part 1, back in September 2016, OS removed the tooth. He worked in my mouth for about 90 minutes when he projected it would be an hour max. In the end he couldn't get it all out, but he got enough of it out to continue the plan. At one point the dental assistant, now referenced as DA, was holding my head with both hands and OS had his hand on my jaw giving him leverage to pull out pieces of the tooth with pliers. No, REALLY. This happened! And at one point said pliers slipped and not only gouged the other side of my mouth, but chipped a part of another tooth in its path. Oops. I didn't chip that tooth did I? That was already like that, right? OS asked while I had a mouth full of dental equipment and was completely unable to respond. At this point I was in full-fledged panic mode, tears flowing, muscles clenched and snot running. PS-Due to the laws of gravity, running snot when laying back with one's mouth open goes down one's throat, at which time one cannot swallow because of all the crap in one's mouth. Understandably, this hinders the very real requirement of breathing, the very thing I was afraid would happen even before I arrived. OS keeps saying 2 things. 1-Breathe through your nose. and 2- Should we stop? Would you like to take a break? And my only thought was, Dear God, just get this over with! The end result is a removed tooth, another tooth chipped and a bonafide, full-fledged anxiety attack. OS comments as I leave, Next time I think you should take a Valium right before you come. You think?! When it's all over DA walks me out the back door so as not to scare the patients in the waiting room.

Part 2 took place in December 2016 and involved Valium. Good.
And tears. Bad.
And clenched fists and a continued (irrational?) fear about not breathing. More bad.
But I made it through and remember even less of the specifics. So overall the objective is accomplished i.e. I didn't die. 

Part 3 was yesterday. Yesterday was a pretty crappy day to begin with, even without a visit to OS. Let's just say that I was under a lot more stress than usual because of kids and life and bills and stuff and things. Even without the appointment, yesterday and the day before were really crappy. At this point I've canceled and re-scheduled this specific appointment with OS once already... 'cause it's the OS, and I remember what it's like to fear death. Simply put, I hate it, (and I don't use that word lightly) and I have had a anxiety attack every single time so far! So Scheduler Girl, SG, calls me the day prior to confirm my appointment, and I say, Hey, SG, while I have you on the phone can I get something for anxiety? Like a Valium? SG looks at my chart and says something like, Oh this is a really short procedure. It's not that bad. I think you'll be okay without it. 'kay? 20-something SG, who has great telephone skills but I'm assuming absolutely no medical training (or why would she be a SG in the first place) makes the judgment call that I don't need Valium. And because at this point in the phone conversation I'm already silently crying and crazy-crazy and all, I say okay.

So the morning of part 3, I take a antihistamine/decongestant an hour prior to my visit so I can breathe through my nose, which I later discover does not work because I simply CANNOT breath through my nose when laying back. There must be something wrong with me. I drive to the office, and I'm okay. The call me back, and I sit in the chair, and I'm okay. They uncover the tray of sterile tools, and I'm still okay. OS lays me back and numbs me up with shots of numbing stuff... and I totally start to lose it... 'cause I'm a baby. Note that I've already told them, again, that I have anxiety about what's coming, especially the not being able to breathe part. OS reiterates, Just breath through your nose. Ya, right with all that crap in my mouth? I think not, and like I said I'm not sure why but it's just not possible because apparently I'm a broken nose breather. Don't get me wrong, OS is really a nice guy. So he numbs me up and
can't breathe...
so even before it's started we take a 5 minutes break to let me get a hold of myself.

Breathing returns to normal-ish, and we proceed. Because I'm an anal retentive linear rule follower, I again try to breathe through my nose, but this is when I decide that seriously I think there's something wrong with me because I simply cannot do it. It's like that hole that goes from my nose to my wind pipe has a cover on it when I lay back, and I wish I could tell OS this, but of course I can't because my mouth if full of tools and hands and stuff. But amazingly mouth breathing is going okay even with a crap-load of stuff in there. Still I sound like every breath in and out is a wheezing effort. Nevertheless, it's breathing, so even through the tears I'm thankful.

That's when things got bad. Like really bad. That's when DA drops something in my mouth... like a metal cap to a screw or something... and OS says uh oh. Everyone starts to scramble. The dropped something starts to go down my throat, clogging the very little hole that prior to this I was kinda successfully breathing through. OS grabs the sucker thingy from assistant and starts to jab it down my throat trying to "suck up" the screw thingy and pull it back up. But I can feel that metal screw thing only keeps going down further.

I'm literally choking at this point. OS keeps telling me to cough, but there's still a huge amount of stuff in my mouth. I can't cough because there's all those doohickeys in my mouth, and because like I mentioned before I'm broken. I can feel the thing as it just keeps slipping farther down, and OS just keeps jabbing away trying to grab it. After what seems like nothing short of 106 minutes of having my airway blocked, OS starts ripping things out of my mouth, sits me up, and finally I cough. It comes up. DING metal against metal as it clicks against all the sterile instruments on the metal tray. I take a huge breath, like the kind in the movies when the drowning victim suddenly surfaces and can breathe again, And then the mother of all panic attacks sets in... like the kind I have trouble breathing through. Ironic ain't it?! As soon as I can breathe, crazy-crazy me can't breathe. OS asks his 2 assistants to leave the room, and I take yet another while to collect myself. OS keeps saying he's sorry, and I just want this whole thing over.

We finally finish part 3 with an abundance of the constant stream of tears streaming down my face and into my ears. Which at this point is old hat for me and OS. It becomes obvious that OS is ticked at DA and re-does most every step she does. And it's over, yes? No it's not! There's still one more anxiety-producing problem! Because of choking and all and not being able to breathe isn't bad enough for anxiety, crazy-crazy lady, the cherry on top is that with all these breaks to collect myself, now the numbing stuff is wearing off, and OS has yet to finish stitching me up. So yes, I got to feel the the needle going in and through my flesh and the thread pulling through my gums as he tied me up, which (not surprisingly) does not feel good at all.

Honestly, I think OS wanted it done with and me out of there, as much as I did! When it was all over, he apologized again, trying to do damage control. Of all people, the already-panic-stricken person was a bad one for all this to happen to. In the end I could have cared less about where the blame lay and how to make it better next time. I just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.

In 2 weeks I return to the dentist to get a crown. I haven't brought myself to make the appointment yet. But you had better believe there will be Valium involved when I do. And maybe heroin.


  1. OMG. I don’t know what is wrong with me. God is really, really, really going to punish me. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know why, but you had me laughing so hard, I had to stop reading a couple of times because tears were streaming down my face and I could not read. You truly have a fabulous gift of writing. It is not that I am not empathetic, because I just had a very similar thing happen to me so I could really relate to your story. I had a cracked tooth under my crown so they had to cut the crown off to pull the tooth out. I just did not have crazy, horrible, bad stuff happen to me, but I could so imagine that it could happen. What happened was not funny at all. It was traumatic. Maybe the uncomfortable too close for comfort feeling I had just took over. It hit a little too close to home knowing anything can happen.
    I am so, so, sorry you had to go through that horrible experience. And without valium, to boot. I honestly would have had a nervous breakdown because I am subject to panic attacks. I have one more appt with my oral surgeon just to get a final x ray, and you bet I am doing to take a valium.
    I still have to say your story is so well written (yes, I know you’re saying “d__n the fact it was well written!!”) it seems like an exaggerated spoof written for a sit-com. Something like that could not really happen in real life, yet I know it did. It is a complete horror story. You vividly brought it to life
    I really feel so bad that you had to experience just a traumatic procedure. Please forgive me for laughing. I know it is not funny. I don’t even know why I am writing this to you because folks will be asking, how can someone laugh at such a horrible incident? I don’t have an answer for that.
    God Bless and good luck as you finish your procedure. And do NOT forget the valium.

    1. oh I DOOO think it's funny in hind sight... maybe only becuase right now I'm not having a panic attack and the fact that it happened to me of all people! Anyone else probalby would have dealt with it so much better! Right now it's OVER AND DONE and that makes me ecstatically happy! And we've had many good laughs in our house about it in the last 24 hours. The margaritas have helped too. Thank you for the writing compliments too!

  2. OMG that is so horrible! I too have panic attacks at the's like DO NOT put anything, especially your fingers, inside my mouth! One time I bit the dentist, threw all his "stuff" at him & flew out of the building. It was an hour before my husband could find me & another hour trying to persuade me to go back so they could finish up! We had only been married a few months & he was probably rethinking the "for better or worse"!
    I am so hoping the rest of this "ordeal" goes better:)

    1. Oh my goodness, can I PLEASE laugh at that? I WISH I could do that! As a child I definitely bit the assistant and dentist, but not as and adult... not that I haven't thought about it!

  3. OHMYGOODNESS!!!!! Have to admit I was dying laughing when DA drops the thingy...I mean you cannot make this stuff up!!! Bless you my friend. I do believe you will need something stonger with valium next time!!!

  4. Great post~~and can I relate! You captured the essence in a humorous way~but I bet, it wasn't funny at that time.

    1. Nope not funny at the time, but now i can laugh about it. Cause getting "stuck" in the hole of anxiety doom doesn't sound that fun. thank you!

  5. heading to the ER for oxygen... OMG, GAH, OMG, I need a valium or 3. Neveh listen to the desk clerk! Insist on speaking to OD.
    Seriously tho', I always ask to have the heavy weighted xray shield laying on top of me. It really helps. Bless your heart, Bless it. Hope you get a great big DIScount! <3


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