Well, just about everything is more fun than a root canal. Just ask me, I tried to have one today. My saga with tooth #18 started 4 weeks ago while we were on vacation. It hadn't bothered me too much since I started on an antibiotic so I didn't worry too much about today's procedure. I've had quite a few root canals in the past and only one had been uncomfortable so I figured that once the injection was over, I'd be fine. That blissful ignorance ended pretty soon into the procedure as this was obviously going to be the second troublesome root canal in my life. I felt numb, until she started opening the tooth. Then the party started. The tooth was apparently very inflamed and basically laughed at Dr. Madison and her anesthetic.
While I can't say I enjoyed the discomfort, I can say that Dr. Madison and her assistant Amanda kept me entertained. They were completely compassionate, but kept a great, natural flow of conversation going. It was obvious that they were comfortable with each other and the other people working in the office. Even in the midst of my worrisome predicament, their great working relationship and compatibility cut through my anxiety. Everyone in the office had a warm welcoming attitude that was noticeable immediately.
Why is this good? It kept me from really focusing on anticipating more pain, and maybe even from becoming overwhelmed by stress. They couldn't finish and had to just medicate and send me on my way until Wednesday. As I drove home I thought about patients that we saw just that week that had been fearful and anxious. Experiencing those feelings myself made me realize I probably hadn't really empathized with them as much as I should have. I was sympathetic and tried to reassure them, but I could have empathized more. Sitting in their seat today made me determined to take more time to try to help patients when they are stressed or frightened rather than just write them off as over-reacting. I realized today that being in the patient's seat can be a vulnerable and nerve-wracking experience. True compassion and empathy can ease that anxiety. Sure, most things are more fun than a root canal, but caring professionals like Dr. Madison and Amanda can make an unpleasant situation a lot easier to take.