The Wall

If I made a list of 1,000 ways I’d like to spend my day, having a root canal wouldn’t make the cut.  I’m nervous during even routine visits to the dentist, where the only thing they remove from my teeth is a little bit of unwanted tartar.  Major procedures where they actually drill into my teeth to remove nerves or advanced decay usually terrify me, and make me wish I had a nice big bottle of Valium handy.  Or morphine.  Or enough anesthetic to knock out a hippo.

So I’d been feeling pretty darned proud of myself lately, what with getting through two root canals in less than a week and managing to handle myself with a certain amount of grace and dignity during both of them.  I did not curse at the dentist, try to exit the chair before the procedure was over, or threaten anyone with grievous bodily harm if they hurt me at all.  I was polite and cooperative, if a bit tense, and even thanked both the dentist and her assistant for their good work before I left the office.

All of which is to say that I had convinced myself that I was finally okay with major dental procedures, and no longer the sort of person who had a hard time sleeping the night before even a minor filling was scheduled.  I won’t go as far as saying that I was looking forward to the three crowns I have to get next week, but I wasn’t overly nervous about them either.  So it came as a complete shock to me just how strongly I reacted last night when I discovered that there was a chance I might actually need a third root canal  before the week was up.

If you’ve ever seen a two-year old throw a temper tantrum, you can probably picture the hissy fit I threw last night.  I stomped around the house, said all the curse words that I had held back during the previous root canals, snapped at my husband when he tried to reason with me, and even cried just a little bit. Eventually, not unlike a two-year old, I took to my bed and slept it off. Apparently, I wasn’t handling things quite as well as I had thought.

What I had assumed was a major change in my feelings about dental procedures was actually just a case of my sucking it up and doing what needed to be done.  Two of my teeth needed a root canal, and so I had two root canals, and behaved like an adult during the process.  But underneath that calm demeanor was a person who is very anxious whenever she sits down in the dental chair, and that person was counting on the fact that there were no more root canals in her near future.  The possibility that I might have to endure another one was more than I could handle last night, and so I had just a bit of a melt-down.

Of course, once I woke up this morning, I had calmed down and realized that I could, in fact, handle whatever procedures, dental or otherwise, I am still facing.  And even though I was just a little embarrassed by my behavior last night, I also realized that it really isn’t anything to be embarrassed about.  No matter how much we try to be strong and cope with whatever life throws at us, there are times when it is just going to feel like too much.  And those are the times when we “hit the wall,” emotionally speaking.  We vent, we cry, we withdraw a bit, and stop pretending to be stronger than we really are.  It’s just part of being human.

And eventually, we find the courage to pick ourselves up and keep right on going, which is all that really matters anyway.

58 thoughts on “The Wall

  1. Been there….. done that…. and yes…. 3 times. My mind just wanders back to the dentist visits in the 60’s where the drilling equipment was on the end of a series of arms… and belt driven! Did they do root canals back then? Probably not… just gassed you and ripped everything out! Something to be said for appreciating progress!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think it is very hard to be a dentist and have so many people be afraid of you. The staff I dealt with at the specialist’s office were very nice and very professional. So I did my best to let them know I appreciated that.

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  2. OMG!!!! I think anyone would reacted as you did, if not much worse! Hang in there and remember that your dentist is not (intentionally) torturing you. Plus on the bright side he or she is probably going to Hawaii (or maybe Europe) for vacation this year!🌺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Louise! Now I remember (even more) why I like you so very much. And yes, even with dental insurance and a discount, I’m still quite sure I’m funding a fun vacation or two!

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  3. Oh Ann! You are human and reacted like most anyone would. Root canals are not fun – but you are being a trooper. I hope the third one – if needed – goes as well as the first two. As much as I hate these procedures too (and I’ve had two myself) – the thing that really kills me is the COST! That is enough to cause anyone to throw a Hissy Fit!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just read the last comment – $3000! Shocked. Coincidentally, I just saw a couple of photos of a pop up dental clinic somewhere in the US where people queued for hours in the heat to get free treatment from (I think) dental students. NHS dental care, unlike medical treatment, is not free at the point of use here but we’d never be looking at that sort of price. Anyway, this isn’t helping – wishing you well for the rest of the treatment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dental insurance here is expensive and doesn’t cover much, unfortunately. The regular visits and filings aren’t nearly so costly, but the crowns are extremely expensive. Most dentists have to allow their patients to have payment plans. And unfortunately, two root canals, three crowns and a new night guard is a whole lot of expensive work all done in the same month, and it adds up to a pretty big sum!

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  5. I wonder if you had known going in that you needed three procedures, you wouldn’t have had your meltdown. But you were braced for two, bore up well, and relaxed after the fact. And there was a price to pay for that holding back of anxiety and fear. It makes prefect sense to me that the surprise of the third treatment would have felt unfair, or that you had been blindsided.
    I used to have issues with fibroid tumors – really gross and painful side effects that I will not detail here. Suffice to say, I have vivid memories of stamping my feet and raging at the indignity and hardship on one or two occasions. Sometimes, no matter how much maturity we bring to our problems, there are times when the balance tips and the only response is a tantrum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Maggie. You understand exactly what I felt! At first I was prepared for three, but relaxed my guard when I thought I was going to have a third (still might, but it turns out I probably won’t), and so was completely unprepared for the possibility that there was more to come. And the uncertainty of exactly what was wrong and what was needed to help made it worse, so all that pent up fear and frustration came out. I think you are right in that all of us need to have a tantrum now and then, especially when faced with things like fibroid tumors and root canals. Seriously, thanks for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The best advice for going into the dental surgeon’s office is to NOT act like an adult. It is times like those when you should channel your inner-B&*^%.

    They will knock you out and keep you knocked out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s because, whether we feel it or not, we know they are putting sharp objects in our mouths, and we can’t see what they are doing. It’s sort of like being awake during an operation, behind a screen. I honestly feel sorry for dentists because they are constantly treating people who would rather not be treated, and that has to be hard! Luckily, I have a good dentist, and that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Ann.
    I think of the dentist as a place
    I am voluntarily visiting, to be tortured.
    I don’t have to sit in the dreaded chair,
    surrounded by stainless steel Jack hammers
    and awfully long drills.
    No, not me.
    I could be running for the hills.
    But I don’t.
    I sit there, praying the pain killer doesn’t stop
    working, before he’s finished.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Been there with you, Ann. A couple of years ago, I also had three done in a short period of time so I laughed at your meltdown because I understood…:) I remember when it happened and as I was feeling sorry for myself, I thought about others who would trade places with me in a heartbeat. That always brought me back to reality. But when you’re goi g through it you do t want to hear it..:) you just focus on the discomfort and inconvenience.
    Hopefully it’s all over now and they won’t be anymore in the future ..;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, thinking about people who are going through chemo and stuff like that does help me put it in perspective! I think I needed to have that little acknowledgment that I really felt overwhelmed, but that’s not a mind-set I want to keep. I try to remember to be thankful that I have a good dentist and can afford dental care, and to stop worrying so much about all the stuff that can go wrong. That’s the dentist’s job to deal with, and I’ll get through this with my wimpy self! Thanks, George…it does help to hear that someone else who went through it understands!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I really feel for you, Ann. I hope you don’t have to have much more treatment. I used to be so petrified of visiting the dentist, I think, mainly because I was very unfairly introduced to my first filling when I was eight years old which wasn’t a pleasant experience although, I do remember they give me a little phial of blue liquid which tasted revolting but did make my head go very woozy. I am now the proud owner (ahem!) of several crowns, top and bottom partial dental plates, a gum guard and more fillings than teeth, Fortunately, I haven’t had any root canal treatments in the last few years. After that lot, I have, thankfully, become fairly immune to pre-dental panic. However, having said that, I have found many alternative experiences to have panic attacks and meltdowns about. I don’t think we ever outgrow fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With the procedures you’ve already done, believe me, you have nothing to fear from a root canal! The procedure itself wasn’t painful, but I was pretty sore afterwards and one of the teeth is still a bit sensitive. I have the restorative work to do next week, and if that goes well, I should be done for a while! If not, I’ll just get through it!
      And I think you are right, there’s a part of us that never outgrows our fears! We just learn to cope with them. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I hate root canals! But,…I hate how I feel without one even more. In other words, the lesser of two evils IS the dentist, but we don’t have to like it! The worse trick played on me regarding root canals was when I had to have a re-root canal. I was having some “slight” tenderness with this one tooth. The dentist did an x-ray, and showed where when the original root canal had been done that particular orthodontist had just missed getting all the infection out of one of the canals. So, I had to allow someone to go back in there and clean it out before the whole thing had me howling in pain. I was not happy! So, I say tantrum on!!! (Btw, hello friend! I have missed your posts! I recently re-activated my account).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I had thought happened to one of my teeth, and why I would have to have another one. When I called they said some tenderness is normal, as I haven’t had the restorative work done yet and they did another x-ray during the root canal and a scan afterwards. But still, I don’t think they know for sure, so only time will tell. The crowns are scheduled for Monday, three at one time, so we’ll see.
      And I’m so glad you have reactivated your account. I’ve missed you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have missed you too!

        It was about five years after the root canal when I had to have it redone. That particular root canal, a molar, when it was originally done, was REALLY bad! Bad enough to where I thought my tooth was going to explode (and part of me wished it would!) Bad enough to where I literally (I am not kidding about this!) had fantasies of tying a string to my tooth, the other end to the bumper of my car, and asking someone to slowly drive the car away from me, so the damn tooth would be yanked out! Bad enough to where the scene from “Castaway”, where Tom Hanks knocks out a tooth with a rock and a ice skating blade, suddenly made perfect sense! 😀 Yes, it was that bad! But,….immediately upon having the root canal I felt great! Tired from the days of pain, but great! Compare that to December 2015. A front tooth needed a root canal. It wasn’t horrible yet, with regards to pain, so I got it looked at before it could get bad. It was an incredibly EASY procedure! The front teeth, or at least that particular kind of front tooth, have only one root, compared to the four(?) of a molar. It was over and done with so fast!!! But,….to be honest, the pain was worse after the root canal with that tooth. No clue why. I felt that someone had played a really cruel joke on me, to be honest! Here, I was trying to stay ahead of the pain, and it was worse AFTER the procedure! First time that’s ever happened. Ugh!
        And, as usual, I have written a book. haha I hope you are feeling better soon, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, that was helpful to know! The tooth I have that is still sensitive to pressure just had the root canal a little over three weeks ago, and doesn’t have a new crown on it yet. I am also a night-grinder and have sinus issues, which means my upper molars hurt under normal conditions. They did another x-ray when they sealed it up, and a scan a week later, and then my regular dentist did another x-ray a week after that, so I think (hope) I am okay with that tooth. If not, I’ll just suck it up and have it “re-root canal!”

          And I agree, that the pain we feel after a dental (or medical) procedure doesn’t really make sense. I’ve had crowns that were fine as soon as the numbness wore off, and some that were sore for a few days afterwards. You just never know! Thanks for sharing your experience, it really does help!

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  11. Good for you! It does seem like there’s a “suck it up” limit, and that once you reach that, reserves are just gone. At least that’s the way it works with me. You’ll get through this.

    Although you’re talking to someone who’s decided that she never has to have a root canal again. If the tooth gets that bad, I have them knock it out and put an implant in. So maybe I have no moral high ground.

    I still think you’ll do okay. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I was talking to a friend the other day who has one son who is a dentist, and another son who makes the dental hardware like crowns, etc., and she said that the latest buzz is that implants are the way of the future. So that means you have no problem with the moral high ground, you’re just a trail blazer! Thanks, as always, for the support!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I believe that fear of being a defenseless being when sitting in a dental chair is universal, no matter how tough some people pretend to be. And then there is the fear of the bill for all the pain that one has endured. I am glad to read that your teeth will not bother you for a while,,Ann!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh yes, I can totally relate! Having any work done on either my teeth or my eyes just totally freaks me out! Reading this post I am shaking my head yes yes yes. My kind of woman 🙂 Same, same.

    So here we are based in Sri Lanka and the crown on one of my teeth chips. What to do?? Yes yes people tell me there ARE good dentists here, but I am inclined to wait seeing as we will be in the U.S. visiting family in a months time. That was BEFORE I found out the cost of a new crown in the U.S. So I had to suck it up and gather all my strength to go into the dentist here and get it done for hmmm $350 instead of $1,500 or more. Just THAT alone made me feel better.

    And much like you, I realized that I could endure it all better than I imagined and that I think is the key. Sometimes our imagination is worse than reality. We are stronger than we think, HA!

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is crazy the difference between costs from one country to another! I wonder why a crown is so much more here? I would have made the same choice!
      And thanks for sharing this story. I agree that we really are much stronger than we think we are, and that our imagination is often much worse than reality. I tend to think of all the things that could go wrong, and then worry about them. But in this instance, with my teeth, I finally calmed down by just realizing that I had a good dentist, so if something went wrong, I could trust him to deal with them. And, just like you, the procedures weren’t anywhere near as bad as I thought they’d be.

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  14. I hope this doesn’t sound superficial, but I honestly think that a good night’s sleep ‘fixes’ the brain and helps make things a whole lot better (all assuming you can sleep). But yes, there are so many things that we all battle our way through on a day to day basis and that, if we were to stop to think and worry about them all, would just prevent us living.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It doesn’t sound superficial at all, and I think it’s also true. Sometimes we just need to “recharge” and sleep does that for us. I don’t know about you, but if I’m awake at night, worrying about something, the whole situation seems hopeless. But when I finally fall asleep, I’ll wake up the next morning and think, “It’s not so bad, I’ll can handle that!” So I think sleep does make all the difference!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, aaaagh, I can absolutely relate to all of this. I had two root canals done just before our big trip and have to go back for the crowns next month. No fun whatsoever, both in the mouth and especially in the hip pocket!

    Liked by 1 person

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