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Friday, June 26, 2009

PTSD, dentistry and learning to understand the "why's" of it today and this time tomorrow

My experience yesterday at the dentist went far better than I'd ever imagined. Did it come without fear, tears and dread? No. I could hardly sleep the night before. I had such anxiety my chest felt like it was stepping on land minds every time my heart beat. The most relief I felt was while blogging and posting pictures of Opie Wan Kenobi. ~~~ OK, that, and yucking myself up at how corny I am. Pitiful isn't it when you laugh like a loon at your own goofiness. But laughing is what helps me most of all to put things in perspective.~~~

I also read an article when researching one of the meds, Triazolam, I was to take the next morning just prior to my visit to dental land, that made me cry, and feel a huge sense of relief at the same time. One of the hardest things to understand about PTSD is that it affects you in ways you don't always connect the dots to with certain behaviors.

I could NOT figure out why WhY? why? why??? why? wHy why.... I was having such a hard time facing going to the dentist. It seemed magnified in my mind, and heart. I felt like a baby, an idiot, unable to control the flooding my mind had with thoughts of doom, and overwhelmed by a sincere wish to runaway, isolate, hide in the tree house forever more--broken toof and all.

Here's an excerpt from the article I read that helped me (below) and a great link to check out if you have dental phobias like me . The medication I used was Triazolam. Sedation Dental Care

What is dental phobia and why do so many people hate the dentist?
Dental phobia
is a severe fear of the dentist that over time causes loss of teeth because of the patients inability to go to the dentist and receive regular care. The heart of the matter is that dental phobia can rob patients of their self esteem as they become embarrassed about the appearance of their teeth and withdraw from friends, coworkers and loved ones.

Why do people hate and fear the dentist ? Fear of the dentist is most commonly something that patients learn from traumatic personal dental experiences. If these experiences occur as a child and are accompanied by a real sense of panic, the resulting reaction to the dentist may become deep seated, visceral and life-long. Such patients don't feel safe in the dental chair. Patients recall of their traumatic childhood experiences often includes being held down against their will, being yelled at, pain and terror. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people, who suffer abuse as children, may have life-long alterations in their response to stress. If a patient suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the dental office may be just one of many situations where such patients feel unsafe. Patients who suffer from panic attacks associated with dental care will do anything not to have that awful feeling again. Sedation, which can block the panic response, can be particularly helpful for dental patients with anxiety attacks.


Superman picked me up yesterday morning and had to talk me out of taking the Triazolam close to 23 times earlier than I was supposed to during the car ride to the dentist. I secretly wanted him to carry me into the dental office & plop my drugged, limp body into the dental chair. Being in control is something I fight to have all the time now since the accident. I hate not feeling in control. But the thought of having a drug to help me numb my fears was appealing. I doubt I'll have to go to a rehab any time soon but for this case I was ready to be medicated. I waited until the time I was told to take the med which meant I had to walk into the office on my own two legs, wobbly knees, and all.

It's probably a tell-tale sign you are the patient when the receptionist greets you with, "Ohhhhh, good morning. YOU must be the one with the appointment. Oh my, you look scared. It will be OK. Hi, I'm....." As she introduces herself to me, she shakes my hand, and looks like she wants to hug every little fear right out of me.

I started bawling right then and there, YES I did.... and the tears flowed like a leak in a garden hose for the next 25-30 minutes....until the nitrous and the happy pill, Triazolam, started working. The staff stood by me with compassion, never rushed me into anything, handed me tissues to dab my sprinklers gone wild, and allowed Superman to stay with me the entire time. He never took his hand off my foot or leg. Not once the entire time.

It took almost 3 hours to clean my toofs, repair my broken molar, remove 3 old fillings of bad, bad, bad silver, and refill, and shape my new toof. I fell asleep a couple of times with the good Dr. Caring-Kind-Gentle Doggie Houser at my side, and staff, calmly working away....stopping anytime I looked the least bit ready to claw my way out of the chair, and telling me what an awesome patient I was.... (ohhhhhh, flattery and excellent meds will get you anywhere with me... I am such a compliment ho....)

I have never EVER EvEr EVerrrrr had such a pleasant trip to the dentist.

For all of you who expressed the same anxiety that robbed my sleep, and peace of mind, about going to a dentist.... do yourselves a HUGE favor. Find one who uses oral sedation, and go.

Your smile is worth it....

I am learning daily about me and this "Dis-Ease" called PTSD. I'm learning to conquer, cope with it, and am discovering its covert ways. And everyday I uncover a little more about the Whys.... Each time I do, I stop beating myself up for not having control over every single minute of my life. Letting go is growth. Allowing myself to feel is healing. Tears are cleansing. And fears can become little pip-squeaks when you face them....

Sharing the journey with you is the BEST medicine. Thank you for reading.


  1. Lille I'm so glad it went well! Look at you, beautiful! Thanks for the tip, I'm going to have to see about the oral sedation during the dentist's visit, because 3 hours in the chair? eek.

  2. What a beautiful picture! Thank you for sharing this story. One of the many things that I love about blogging is the friendship and fellowship I have found here. After I read your story 20 or 30 times I will try to be strong and find a dentist like the one you described. I am in need of dental care and just talking about it makes me cry as well, I suffer from panic attacks and agoraphobia which doesn't help. I will try to be inspired by you. Thanks Anne

  3. Did you ever think that it's not the PTSD and you are just a big baby? Just kiddin'! I'm so glad you had a good experience! I prayed for you peace of mind.

    Once I found out that all dentist don't torture patients, I kept my check-up appts. But I still get nervous because of sensitivity. My old dentist let me have happy gas, but my new one wants me to be a big girl. But he is gentle and good. The root canals helped a ton!

    BTW... That is way too beautiful a smile to hide behind a broken toof!

    PS I'm still waiting. If I were a cat, I'd be dead... You know the old adage, "curiosity killed..."

  4. quite an exceptional post. I am grateful that I do not suffer from PTSD. My heart goes out ot you. I do like my dentist which is a good thing. I had a dentist as a child who was not gentle.

  5. I'm so glad it all went well and what a smile.
    I don't know what it is about blogging that seems to free you. I wonder what I did before it.

  6. Good for you!! I went to the dentist after just getting the basic work done for years and losing teeth because of it, I'm keeping one that I thought sure was a goner. Keep up the good work!

  7. You are SO brave!!! Good for you for taking care of yourself, being gentle, and going through with something that was so scary, but so important.

    *lots of love*

  8. Good for you, well done! That must have been so hard. We're all proud of you.

  9. Me too I am before but after it, it was just ok, it is not that painful. I am just afraid of the injection.

    Vision Board

  10. That's good to hear and everything went well. Your blog reminds me of my past experience with my dentist when I was still a kid, when he pulled a molar and the anesthesia didn't work much on me. MY GOSH! I was screaming that time and after that...patients waiting outside the clinic were all gone! LOL.:)

    Have a nice day Lille


  11. Thanks for becoming a follower of the cafe,, returning the favor!

  12. Oh wow. I'm glad as is everyone else that everything went well for you. That had to be such a huge thing for you do. You should be really proud. I can see what these people mean when they say you are an inspiration. I can't say I know what it's like, but I give you a lot of credit. Keep on keeping on. And I'll also have to make sure I keep reading on, make sure you get your 101 things to do done. (As you can probably tell, I'm new to your blog. But I really like it. Thank you for sharing.)

  13. Congrats on facing your fear and thank you so much for sharing your experience. I had no idea you could get such a pill and will have to see if the Irish dental service uses such a thing... I have a huge blood phobia caused by my past dental experiences and pass out instantly at the slightest smell of disenfectant, or even a certain light (the type used in surgeries...) It is so bad I can't even help my kid if she gets a nosebleed or cuts her leg..... I have often contemplated hypnosis or something similar as I avoid the doctors like the plague because of it...
    thank you so much for bringing something to my awareness that I could only dream exsisted!
    Everyone who feels the mortal fear of dentistry can read you story and find strength.. Thank you soo much! :-D

  14. Good for you! I'm glad things went well. I have 'dental phobia' really badly - can't even get on the phone without having a panic attack. I keep trying though and I know one day I'll get there. I'm pleased you overcame it x

  15. Hi Lille Diane,

    What a story thanks for sharing it and thanks for your beautiful photo.


  16. Way to be brave. Great pic!!

  17. No matter how we face our fears, it is so wonderful when you do. You had such great support from the staff and Superman.
    What a beautiful smile - you did it!!

  18. i SO have dental phobia... thank goodness i'm not the only one....

  19. You are indeed very brave. I'm afraid of going to the dentist too - even though my father is a dental surgeon!

    Thanks a lot for your kind words about my brother's health and for allowing me to reuse the images of that magnificent male lion you photographed. I'll notify you when I use them. Take care and have a good week :)

  20. ~~~Thank you everyone! I was detained, in a delightful way, at Superman's Fortress. It was a long week last week, and sometimes you just need to get away.

    ~~~MzzLily... yes I am a big baby LOL too funny!

    ~~~ For all the new visitors, thank you for leaving comments. I dearly love to read what everyone says.

    ~~~I hope this post has helped you learn about new options available in dentistry. And especially give you courage to seek a kind dentist to assist you overcome your fears. I know how hard it is just to make a phone call to a dentist. It was worth the anxiety flare ups I experienced making the calls to find the right one for me.


  21. The most WONDERFUL thing happened today! Ali rode out to the mailbox and found a surprise for me! I'm following the instructions...
    'When God Ran' first. I'll be back!

    I'm sooo excited! I thought I had your e-mail...

  22. What a great Post! I'm glad you had a not so terrible experience at the dentist. I could only imagine how you really felt because I don't really have a problem with the dentist. I do however have a problem with the bill afterward. Ugh I need to make an appointment soon. One of my wisdom teeth is pushing through. I agree that sharing is the best medicine because just having my blog and sharing my life with all of you has made me feel a lot better about myself, emotionally. I think that is more important right?
    Hope you having a great week.

  23. Great music.

    Your dentist experience was too close for comfort -- glad you explained it.


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