November 14, 2007
Birthday's Over, Back to Reality
I'm glad I had a restful day off, 'cause it was "back to reality" pretty quick. Saturday was a crazy, juggling day and so was yesterday.
It's funny: Back when I was just automatically (and unaware of) dissociating all the time, I could juggle so many balls in the air at once without dropping a one. Now, I just get so overwhelmed most of the time. I try not to put more than one major thing on the calendar to accomplish in a day, if I can arrange it. I feel pretty pathetic sometimes. Once upon a time, I was a "successful professional." Oh well. The way I try to look at it now is that my healing and therapy is my "profession." If I can help anybody else, even a little bit, along the way, well that's an added bonus.
I did get a chance to use some of my corporate communications professional-type skills on Saturday. I went to a memorial service and went up in front of everyone at the pulpit and spoke about the person who had passed. It was just off the top of my head, too; I didn't write anything down or prepare at all. Many people told me how touched they were about what I had said. That made me feel good and feel like I had given the person we were remembering a nice gift.
Yesterday was a packed day on the calendar as well. But, the overwhelming piece of it was going to the dentist. I'd put it off as long as I could, but pain drove me in.
I'm really pissed that I'm still so traumatized by going to a dental appointment. I had worked a lot on this fear with my former therapist. I even got a referral by the facilitator of my old incest survivor support group to a dentist who was supposed to have all this training for dealing with survivors and helping them feel safe. Ha! What a joke! I had to have a crown put on a year ago, and it was a nightmare!
With the help of my therapist, I had pinpointed two areas that were key to my terror: reclining in the dental chair and having that bright light in my face. I decided assertiveness was key to my safety. I told all the staff members at this dental office about my survivor status, extreme dental fear, and what I needed to feel safe. I made it very clear that I would expect (and keep reminding) them to raise the chair up and turn the light off whenever it wasn't currently in use during my procedure.
Everyone there respected my requests except for one &%^#@ who had no respect, compassion or kindness about her. She sighed heavily every time I reminded her with my requests, sometimes simply ignoring me as if she hadn't heard. Every time she'd leave the room--leaving me reclined and with the light still shining in my face--I'd either sit up or get out of the chair. When she came back into the room, she'd chide, "What are you doing up?" How many ways do I need to explain this to you, lady?! I was so traumatized, I was literally trembling and you could see my feet and legs shaking (the heartless wench didn't even notice this, of course).
So, now I have a new dentist, referred to me by my current therapist. I took my son in to see him in June. I checked the place out and it felt okay. But, it took me another six months to get up my nerve to go in. The anti-anxiety medication my psychiatrist prescribed me was key. I still felt a bit scared, but the people there were nice yesterday and said that they wouldn't mind at all how many times I reminded them of my keep-safe requests. Actually, yesterday they remembered right away on their own.
So, that's the good news. The bad news is that I will need more procedures. Ya see, I clench my teeth a lot. I don't grind them, but I clench, and the damage is starting to show. My teeth are already worn down pretty good and now they're starting to crack. I could see cracks in them a long time ago, but now they're starting to cause pain, especially when eating. So, I need crack repair.
Also, this new dentist fitted me for a night guard he wants me to wear. I don't know how much I'm clenching my teeth in my sleep. I've noticed it for years when I do it during the day. It's often when I'm angry...or maybe when dissociating, I'm not sure. I asked this guy how to stop during the day. "You just notice and cut it out," he said. Oh, gee, I never would have thought of that! I have a feeling the night guard won't solve the problem. It'll be a miracle if I can feel safe and comfortable enough to wear it to bed anyway.
Even if they seem compassionate and understanding, these dentists really don't know anything about sexual abuse survivors. They really should have some kind of training; it's obviously sorely needed! Here are a couple of online links about dental fear and survivors, if you want to check them out: www.dentalfearcentral.org and www.sidran.org/dental.html. These are listed under "Resources: Survivor Issues" on my dot com site, www.survivorscanthrive.com.
I know Rising Rainbow was talking about dental and doctor fear on her blog the other day. If there are any others out there that are in the same boat as us, you have my sympathy, understanding, compassion and empathy. Take gentle care, all.
hope you find one just like ours.
peace and blessings
But I like my new dentist. She is petite with little hands and having smaller hands in my mouth helps a lot.
I'm with you they need to be taught how to deal with survivors. I developed my fear as an adult because of the way I was treated by insensitive dentists.
I have to go back the day before Thanksgiving to get my crown. I'm already dreading it. lol
Happy belated birthday.
Like you, I am learning not to schedule so many things at once. I just postponed my filling because there were too many other things going on that week.
One small trick I've found is to take a book with me. Then I ask to sit up and read whenever they are not in there working on me. It really helps.
Prayers as you go through all of this teeth work.
(you have my email if you want to chat more about night guards and clenching things)
Good for you for asserting yourself by making your needs known. There will always be at least one heartless staff member, won't there? It's like some sort of universal law or something.
You have more courage than I, speaking at a memorial. You obviously derived a sense of satisfaction out of doing so. Good for you!
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