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Anxiety, Angst, and Apprehension

Posted Mar 30 2010 6:18am

I have a confession to make.  Even with all my years of patient empowerment work I hate when I have to confront a medical/dental professional.  I get the entire conversation written in my head like a bad Broadway play, full of villains, twists and turns, and someone coming out of it worse off than when they started…usually me.

I had some dental work done a couple of weeks ago and 24 hours after the work I noticed that it didn’t feel good.  I had some pain and the right side of my mouth that was never sensitive before was not sensitive to hot and cold.  Of course as timing would have it the office had closed for vacation so I had 10 days to have this mess swirling around n my brain.

My biggest obstacle, and maybe you can understand, was the shift that takes place from everything being okay to being less than perfect.  I felt like the dentist had let me down, not that she didn’t anything wrong professionally ( at least not to my knowledge).  Thee was definitely a sense of dread that I felt as I picked up the phone to call the office the first morning they were open for business.

I asked the receptionist to speak with the doctor.  She asked what was wrong and knowing the work I had done speculated (scary when the receptionist speculates), but I figured if she was going to get me to the doctor she could speculate to her heart’s content.  Fortunately, she got me in yesterday afternoon.

The dental hygenist asked me what the problem was so I told her.  My next words were the most telling.  In a discouraged tone I asked, “Please make it better”.  The dentist came in and told me what she felt the problem might be and proceed to make the necessary adjustments. 

So what about the sensitivity to hot and cold?  The dentist told me that she had some work done and that her teeth became sensitive to hot and cold and it resolved itself over time…it took a year.  Now I’m once again in the dread space but we’ll take it one day at a time.  I must have the same procedure done on the other three quadrants of my mouth.  Better wait or I’ll never be able to eat again.

I know you’ve been waiting for the moral of the story so here it is:  It’s natural to feel apprehensive when needing to confront a medical professional.  We’ve elevated the doctors on extremely high pedestals and all we have to go on is our bodily experience.  Here’s the important point.  Your bodily, emotional, and spiritual experience is all that matters.  If there’s a problem it’s up to the medical professional to fix it.  This gets back into the need for doctors and dentists to do a better job of informing their patients about results of procedures.  If the dentist had told me what might happen at least I wouldn’t have freaked out and had 10 days to stew in my own juices.  The partnership has got to get better.


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