I’ve written a bit about my issues with going to the dentist in the past. It still bugs me that I used to be completely fine with the dentist and now it’s become a huge ordeal for me. I know I need to go 3 times a year and I don’t avoid the appointments because that can lead to more issues than I want to deal with. But it doesn’t make it easier to get through each appointment.
I’ve also written about how taking Vyvanse was supposed to make my panic attacks worse. But for some reason it’s had the opposite effect for the dentist. I’m so grateful that is the case for me, but it doesn’t eliminate all the panic I feel and it’s still a bit of an ordeal for me to go.
I had my cleaning this Monday and I tried my best to be ready for it. I had plenty of teeth nightmares (thinking my teeth are falling out, have massive cavities in them, need them to be pulled out) in the month leading up to the appointment. And when I was brushing my teeth the week before the appointment I seriously thought I saw something that looked like a cavity so I was freaking out. I was dreading the bad news I was expecting to get at the appointment and just tried to get to Monday so I could get it over with.
I had my usual workout in the morning (which was a nice distraction for an hour) and several errands scheduled between the workout and the appointment. But when I was driving over to the dentist I was starting to have a panic attack. But this panic attack wasn’t about being at the dentist. This was about worrying that I would have a panic attack while I was in the middle of the appointment. I literally was panicking about potentially panicking. It wasn’t fun.
As soon as the dental hygienist came to get me, I really felt like I was about to burst into tears. I wasn’t shaking and my breathing was normal, so that was an improvement. And I let her know my concerns so she could try to get me reassured as quickly as possible.
The first thing the hygienist did was check my teeth for any damage. She takes her time doing this because she wants to give me an answer immediately if there are any issues that I should be worried. While she was looking I was pinching my arm as hard as possible to distract me from when felt like impending doom. And once she was done looking she said that everything looked fine (not even something that looks like it could turn into a cavity anytime soon) and got on with the rest of the appointment.
As soon as I got that news, all the fear and panic melted away from my body. I felt completely normal and made it through the rest of the appointment with no issues at all. Even all the stuff I hate (like the scraping stuff) was fine and I felt relaxed.
I keep joking with the hygienist that I’m ready for this panic about the dentist to end. I’m doing significantly better but I’m not back to how I was before the panic attacks started. I feel like the panic attacks are now a fear about potential panic attacks which is a bit better than panicking about the appointment itself. These are baby steps to getting over this issue and while the progress is annoyingly slow for me it’s progress.
Hopefully within the next few years dentist appointments will bring the same lack of panic as any doctor appointment for me (I only panic when I know my blood has to be drawn). Once I can treat these appointments as just a normal part of life, the better.
There is one other thing that may have made this a better appointment than in the past, but that is a story for tomorrow’s post!