Hey Mom- Keep Calm and Go To The Dentist, But Don’t You Dare Show Me a Needle!

Sometimes as Moms we forget that we have to take care of ourselves.  We put our children and their needs as the priority and let the rest slide.  But I’ll tell you a secret, sometimes we use it as an excuse to avoid what we don’t want to do.  At what age can you expect that you will overcome your childhood phobias and fears?  Do you admit to them, or fake it for fear of embarrassment or ridicule? I went with avoidance, it was simply easier.

I had been doing that for a while when it came to going to the Dentist.

I made sure my children went to the Dentist. I even have one in braces, so there are regular orthodontist appointments as well. The last time I had a full cleaning was probably 10 years ago.  I went in 3 years ago to have a cleaning, it had to be done in two stages and I never went back for the second part simply because I just didn’t want to.

Going to the dentist isn’t a big deal you say?   You know what, you are absolutely right. Actually, I can do the cleaning, it’s the potential that more work is needed, fillings or anything that requires needles that keeps me away.

As a child, I had no enamel on my teeth.  I had appointments constantly for fillings. I remember the feeling of a numb mouth from Novocain. I hated that feeling. I remember the smell the drill made as it dug out the damaged part of my tooth. A gross smell of grinding and friction. And most of all I remember the pinch in my mouth when they gave me the shots of Novocain.

I had a strong fear and dislike of needles. It was the norm for me to scream and cry at the doctor’s office if I needed a shot. It was even worse if I needed blood drawn. I’m fairly certain I hold the record at my hospital for the number of people it took to hold me down. One or more on each leg, one holding my head, one holding each arm, my mother sitting on me and the person who was actually trying to draw my blood. I would often faint or become extremely light headed after the blood was drawn which didn’t help.  My dentist was smart.  He always told me to close my eyes before he did the shot.  It pinched, it hurt and I didn’t like it, but I honestly had no idea what he was doing to me. That’s the only reason he got away with it.  UNTIL… the one day he forgot to have me close my eyes and pulled the needle out in front of me. BIG MISTAKE!   My mother could hear me screaming from the waiting room. She rushed in to find the dentist straddled over me with a needle that was bent from jamming it into the roof of my mouth.  Needless to say, that was my LAST visit

My dentist was smart.  He always told me to close my eyes before he did the shot.  It pinched, it hurt and I didn’t like it, but I honestly had no idea what he was doing to me. That’s the only reason he got away with it.  UNTIL… the one day he forgot to have me close my eyes and pulled the needle out in front of me. BIG MISTAKE!   My mother could hear me screaming from the waiting room. She rushed in to find the dentist straddled over me with a needle that was bent from jamming it into the roof of my mouth.  Needless to say, that was my LAST visit with that dentist.

My mother found a new dentist for me and the first time I saw him he talked to me about what I didn’t like going to the dentist.  I told him I didn’t like needles or Novocain.  After looking at my mouth he told me so much of what I needed done was “surface work” that I probably didn’t even need Novocain. I had asked my previous dentist if I had to have the Novocain and he had said absolutely yes, it couldn’t be done without it. My new dentist became MY HERO.  He made me the best deal ever.  He said we could start the filling without Novocain and if at any time I felt pain and wanted the Novocain he could stop, give me the shot and then start after it kicked in.  NEVER again did I have Novocain. I have to admit that he changed my view of going to the dentist.

Shouldn’t that be the fix you say, aren’t you okay now? Well, no…you see the whole “let me jab you in the mouth until I can get the Novocain in there” completely upped my fear of needles.

I had to see an oral surgeon because my mouth was so small and crowded that I had to have extra teeth pulled to make room in my mouth. That was done with something to put me out.  A total of four teeth pulled two each time. I still fought, I think it took longer to put me out then it did to remove the teeth. Then at 15 I had to have my wisdom teeth out. This was done in the hospital under anesthesia. OH MAN, an IV.   IVs are worse.  Because I have such tiny veins that don’t cooperate my record for failed attempts at an IV is 16. 16 tries with 8 different people before they got the IV in and running.  That sounds crazy doesn’t it? 16 times, I was too sick to care the day that happened. Aside from that really bad situation, the average IV start is about 4 tries.  No wonder I hate needles, right?

At 24 I became pregnant with my first child. At that point, I was sort of embarrassed about my fear of needles. I had gotten to the point where I could lay down with someone holding my hand and get my blood drawn, but only after I stopped them a half a dozen times. Hey, any progress is better than none.  Before my pregnancy was done I actually graduated to sitting in a chair with someone holding my hand, mostly due in part to the world’s most amazing phlebotomist who had the magic ability of actually drawing my blood without me even feeling it. The morning after my daughter was born a hospital phlebotomist came to my room to draw my blood.  I was alone, no one with me. I asked if they could come back. NOPE. I had to give myself a pep talk “you’re a mother now, you wouldn’t want your daughter to see you being a weenie”, I did it. My blood was drawn, and amazingly, I survived.  I graduated to having my blood drawn by myself from that day forward. I don’t like it. I still get slightly light headed at just the smell of the alcohol wipe cleaning my arm makes me nervous, and unfortunately, I have very small veins and often the first stick is a miss. My average for a blood draw is 3 attempts before there is success.

I try very hard to be strong for my children when they need shots, blood draws or IVs. I try not to let them see me sweat. You have to be strong, brave and draw from somewhere deep inside.   I have to look away, or I am on the floor. But, I always hold their hand, whisper sweetly in their ear and try to distract them from what is going on. It is apparent that my children did not get their bravery from me because both girls have been champs in this department.  Not running around, no screaming or crying, no sitting on them.  My Bonus children are the same, true champs.  It’s hard to swallow that these young children are braver than me.

So I got up the nerve to get my cleaning at the Dentist done about 3 weeks ago after my daughter had hers, and wouldn’t you know it….a cavity!  CRAP! Even after 32 years of not needing any dental procedures all those feelings came rushing back. The anxiety was overwhelming.  The dental hygienist picked up on it right away. She told me the Dentist would be more than willing to write me a prescription for anxiety to take the morning of my appointment.  DARN RIGHT, I took that offer instantly.

I fretted every day leading up to my appointment. My darling husband took me to appointment and I took the prescription given.  It did give me a calmer feeling, but I was well aware of everything that was happening.  The Dental assistant put some gel on the inside of my mouth where the filing was going to be to numb the area before the Novocain injections. GENUIS, why didn’t they do that when I was a child? When the Dentist came in to start, he told me sweetly to close my eyes, knowing that if I saw the needle it would likely be over. That numbing gel worked great, except for the one shot that I felt. The Dentist apologized profusely.  He was determined to give me the best experience possible and help me get past my fear. He did great!

So this is what I learned, I still hate Novocain. That feeling is just icky!  I don’t like the smells associated with drilling your teeth. Not all Dentists are mean, and most of all, I learned that I can do it. I did it. I survived.  I am still embarrassed to say that these situations affect me the way they do, but I am proud to say I didn’t wimp out and before I left the Dentist’s office I made my appointment for my next cleaning.  Am I over my phobia, nope, but can I survive it…YES.

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Stephenie Gamach

Hello, My Name is Stephenie and I am a stay-at-home Mom raising a blended family with 4 children, ages 21, 15, 11 and 9.   Bringing two families together comes with its own successes and struggles follow along and see how my Blended Life Makes Me a Very Happy Wife.
 

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