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(Back) In The Dentist’s Chair (Day 8)

Today I went to the dentist. It’s probably been at least 3 years since I last visited one. To be fair I moved around quite a bit during the pandemic so it seemed silly to visit any kind of doctor or dentist when I knew there was a good chance I’d be somewhere else in a matter of months. Plus it wasn’t exactly an “essential” visit given the other, more critical medical issues transpiring around the world at the time, soooo I didn’t go.

I know, I know, it probably sounds like a lot of excuses and to be fair, there’s definitely a part of me that was grateful for the (somewhat valid) excuse to skimp out on my visits to the dentist and/or doctor but that time has since passed. So off to the dentist I went!

I hyped this first visit up SO much in my mind. You know when you haven’t done something in a while, you’re just overcome with nerves when you finally return to it? Take your first visit back to the gym after significant time off for example. You imagine all of the things that can (and likely will) go wrong. You imagine the worst case scenario essentially.

Isn’t it kind of funny to think about the fact that a lot of us avoid things like the dentist or doctor yet by avoiding them we thereby make our eventual visit that much WORSE because by that time something is likely actually wrong? Seems a bit backward when you say it out loud. Well needless to say I was expecting today’s visit to be exactly that. WORSE than even what I hyped it up in my mind to be.

Since it was a new dentist’s office I had to do the full x-ray workup before the actual cleaning. Sitting in the chair with that weighted vest over my chest and lap took me back. I remember being a little girl, sitting in that same chair (different state, different dentist obviously) being told to bite down on that god awful folded over tab that was wrapped in plastic, silently suffering as I tried not to drool all over myself, or worse yet, choke on this foreign object in my poor little mouth. ICK. I’m happy to report there have been some significant upgrades since then and while the x-rays were still somewhat uncomfortable, they were no where near the same level of discomfort inflicted by that stupid, uncomfortable, mouth tab.

Once the x-rays were complete, the dentist came in and reviewed them with her dental hygienist. Of course they immediately started speaking in dental jargon that I didn’t understand at all but assumed it meant all of my teeth had cavities and the only solution was some severely painful, hours long surgery. Clearly that’s what they were saying. Had to be.

Would you believe my surprise when the dentist thanked me for making her job so easy and said everything looks great especially considering I haven’t had a proper teeth cleaning since before the pandemic, and left the room. EVERYTHING LOOKS GREAT. So you mean I get to keep all my teeth and don’t have to endure a severely painful hours long surgery because my entire mouth is in fact NOT inflicted with cavities????

Despite my unnecessary anxiety leading up to my dentist visit, it was actually a pleasant experience. I mean I even left the office cracking jokes with the staff. Who am I?! Someone with perfect teeth that’s who!!!! Okay, okay I’ll stop.

I guess the point of me sharing my dental trials and tribulations - minus the trials and tribulations part since I have perfect teeth after all. HAH! (Okay now I’m really done). But my point is not only to remind each of us to take our health seriously and ensure that we’re staying up to date on our visits to the dentist and doctors and all the things but to remind ourselves that it’s not always as bad as we hype it up to be. In fact, most things in life aren’t. Whether it’s a presentation you’re giving at work, that new workout you’ve been wanting to try, or a visit to the dentist, it is rarely (if ever) as bad as you’ve made it out to be in your mind.

When I was a little girl I remember I was so afraid of going to the doctor and getting shots. I used to lay in my bed at night pinching my arm SO hard in preparation for the fated jab. Would you believe it if I told you my pinch was always SIGNIFICANTLY worse than the actual shot? Now I’m not recommending you use this as a coping mechanism and inflict any kind of physical or mental pain on yourself in order to prepare for that next challenge in your life but I am telling you that you got this. You always got this. And I promise you, PROMISE, it’s never as bad as you think it is. Whatever ‘it’ is…Promise.

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