I try not to skip weeks in my blog, but I was away last Monday and these days I refuse to overdue it when my plate is full. Baby steps.
In my last post I talked about going to the dentist as an act of self physical care. Turns out my routine cleaning showed that a crown that had been placed on my tooth over 8 years ago had come loose. They were going to have to replace it, as it was quite possible that decay was creeping up under that crown. DECAY.
I’ll admit my first thought was, “RUN.” They told me it would take two visits to replace the crown. All I kept thinking was, “I’ll make the appointment to humor them and then I won’t come.” And yes, this was just after writing the blog post about taking care of your physical self. My fear of dentists is NOOOOO joke.
But I made it to the appointment and showed up (today) because I did some prep work ahead of time. It occurred to be I could go into this appointment like I do on rainy days. Playlists at the ready, treats (not food treats) lined up throughout the day, saved podcasts for day like today, and a little help from pharmaceuticals.
Allow me to elaborate. I realized a long time ago that dental appointments are on my most hated “things to do” list. My anxiety is typically through the roof and my pre-appointment panic is hard to manage. So a couple years back, I confessed this to my doctor. He prescribed Xanax for my dental appointments. I remember being both hesitant and relieved when I got the prescription. There was a small part of me that was frustrated that I had to rely on something other than myself. But I gave it a shot, and today my pre-appointment panic was manageable as was my anxiety in the appointment.
Now, I know that some of you may immediately tune out when you read this. Obviously an anti-anxiety medication is not for everyone, especially if you don’t experience anxiety. But if I didn’t include that in those post I would not have been truthful about my experience. Taking a Xanax before my appointment was part of my process for coming prepared.
Secondly, I advocated for myself. When I sat in the dental chair I spelled it out for the dentist and dental assistant. I explained that I was terrified of dental appointments but was going to do my best. I told them I was on Xanax so that they weren’t unaware. And finally I asked if I could play a podcast while they worked on my mouth, to distract me. To my shock, they said, “Of course!” It had never occurred to me prior to that appointment, that this was something I could even ask for. But as I walked in the room, I realized that I had nothing to lose. If they said no, I’d adapt.
And lastly, I had something to look forward to. Remember when you were a kid and the dentist would give you cheap plastic rings or stickers when you finished your appointment? No? That was just my dentist? Well, I made sure that I had some sort of treat lined up for myself, so I could focus on that during the tough parts of the visit. I’d visualize getting to listen to the podcast I’d saved, or practicing a new song on the guitar.
Now, in my case this was just a simple dentist appointment. But I encourage you to no longer go with the mantra “grin and bear it” when it comes to taking care of yourself. Know thyself. If you find yourself canceling medical/dental/therapy appointments for reasons that are based merely on fear, I urge you to push through that discomfort. Figure out what is the right equation for you, to get to those appointments.
Do you need a friend there with you? Is the appointment by a bookstore you love? Do you need a playlist for the appointment or after the appointment?
Whatever you need, know that you are not alone. It’s scary taking care of yourself, but if you don’t who will?
Take care of YOU.