“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

“He folded his fear into a perfect rose. He held it out in the palm of his hand. She took it from him and put it in her hair.”
― Arundhati RoyThe God of Small Things

You can run a search on the word “fear” and find it peppered throughout this blog.  What is a year of adventure if not a campaign to conquer fear?  Note: this is not a complaint: For someone who proclaims to be afraid of everything this attitude can only help.  Fear is but a trick of the mind, right?  And I’ve celebrated fantastic victories.  I’ve battled fear!  Defeated fear!  I’ve committed to quiet asides with fear, and went so far as to share certain fears.  To be FAIR (get it?!) I’m a stronger woman for it, and I feel forever changed.  But, through it all I’ve been selective.  You see, skydiving and trapeze swinging and frozen baptisms all feel like childs play in comparison to the one pursuit I’ve kept at bay.  Because now, inevitably and begrudgingly, I’ve found myself in the place I fear the most:

Dear reader, I had to visit the dentist.40435_897073625260_1968649_n

Please understand that I’m not in the habit of admonishing dentists.  In fact, if I’m to be honest, the only dentists I’ve known have been lovely – leaving me trauma-free, and smile ready.  So why the ire?  Why do I consider this THE FEAR of ALL FEARS?  And when I say FEAR I am not in jest.  Think sleepless nights and mid-day panic.  Think expertly chewed nails and avoidance for a long, long time.  I’m ashamed to admit 6 years too long.  All for a profession that has only ever been kind to me in the past.

I mean it when I say that it’s me, not them.

That’s because this doesn’t have to do with dentists, and has everything to do with needles.  

There is no greater understatement than to say I don’t like needles.  I loathe them.  So scared of them am I that I cannot watch one on TV.  I would sooner attend a medical appointment if I knew the cure was a punch in the face than a blood draw.  The mere thought of a needle piercing my skin drives me to panic, and so I’ve become crafty.  And, much to the chagrin of my husband who sees NO VALUE in avoidance, I’ve controlled for needle invasion.

This isn’t great.  This means I haven’t had a blood draw in a very long time and I haven’t seen the dentist beyond occasional cleanings.  While I’ve lived without cavities for most my life, my luck was coming to an end and an aching pain and newfound sense of adventure (this time I wasn’t loving Team52) brought me to my senses.

Queue the kindest dentist in the world! A simple google search was all I needed to find someone willing to work with my anxiety.  For readers in anguish, I compared a lot of different dental sites.  I called my dental insurance to ask after practitioners with sensitivities toward phobic patients.  When you do schedule an appointment, don’t be afraid to request a simple meet-and-great.  If you are so frightened that you couldn’t possibly conceive of having your teeth touched, ask to sit in the chair.  Have the dentist talk through what he or she would do in a standard setting.  From an exposure stand point, familiarizing yourself with your settings and setting realistic expectations goes a long way toward fear reduction.

I brought my husband, but wouldn’t you know he had a dental emergency and required assistance far away from me.  So he won’t be the hero of this show.  Instead, I’m the hero! Because after a long stint of comfortable avoidance I not only visited the dentist, but I had 2 cavities filled.

Double cavities means double novacaine means double panic.  But I’d done all I prescribe to a needle phobic.  I met my dentist in advance.  We talked through the points of procedure.  I took a xanax.  I queued up some lyric rich music on my phone.  I breathed.  I relaxed.  I trusted.

I don’t even like writing this part but it must be said: in went the needle.  And my response?

“Oh.”

In that I felt nothing.  Honestly, hand-to-heart, my dentist (who should be sainted – cannonized as a living legend among medical workers) was quick and thoughtful in his approach.  Nothing hurt.  Nothing felt out of my control.  Nothing surprised me.

All the while EVERYTHING changed.  I did the thing I’d kept myself from doing for 16 long years.  And I’m here to tell tale as a stronger, wiser, and more tooth responsible woman.  This was my equivalent of looking into the barrel of a gun.  To further work that analogy I don’t know that I can easily stare into it moving forward.  It’s still there, my fear.  It lingers and has a hold on me.  But I now know I am capable of quieting it.  That I can trust in the aid of another and believe that nothing bad will come of it.  And more than anything I can take care of myself in the ways I’d want my loved ones to do.

“He folded his fear into a perfect rose. He held it out in the palm of his hand. She took it from him and put it in her hair.”

I feel like I’m wearing a crown of roses amidst a field of growing flowers.

Advertisements