It’s not that I don’t like the dentist (she’s very nice), but that I don’t like dental work.  Of all the health-related things I have to do on a daily/monthly/yearly basis, dental works tops the list of “ooh, no thank you.”  Daily finger pricks and infusion sets and injections – bring it on.  Scraping a metal pick around in my mouth filled with overly-sensitive, fragile-flower fangs?  Please do not.

But dental visits are important, even if I hate them.  Growing older has made me more apt to follow through on the appointments I’d rather skip because I finally understand how long I get to keep certain body parts (teeth, skin, eyeballs, etc) and how I’d like all my parts to remain well and good for as long as possible.  So I make my dental appointments, and I keep them.

Things crop up, though, that I can’t anticipate.  Like over the weekend, when a ceramic filling popped off one of my teeth.  (These fillings were done many years ago and I hate them.  More on their stupid existence here.)  While it wasn’t painful to be broken, it kept me from being able to eat normally and I knew it was going to be a tender process to fix that little sucker.

My appointment was this morning, and when I woke up to Snowmahgod going on outside (fluffy snowflakes, strong winds, and enough ice to send my car all over the road), I figured I’d bought myself a pass on pain, since the dentist’s office was closed, right?

“We’re here!  We’re still on for your appointment for this morning, Mrs. Sparling,” said the receptionist when she answered the phone at their office.

“Oh!  Oh, that’s great!  I can’t wait to see you guys!” I replied, trying to conceal my trepidation with exuberance.

After the treacherous sled ride drive from my house to the dentist’s office, I settled into the dentist’s chair and prepared to become comfortably numb.  Only, three novocaine shots later, I wasn’t quite there.

“Can you feel this?” the dentist asked, gently touching my wounded tooth.


“I’m really surprised.  We need to do a lidocaine block.  I was hoping not to use that, because it pinches to administer, but the novocaine isn’t working as well as I’d hope.”  She grinned ruefully.  “You don’t hate us, do you?”

“No way.”  And it’s true, because even though we weren’t to the drilling/fixing part yet, the dentist’s concerns were for my comfort, which directly affected her ability to do her job.  (I’m pretty sure it isn’t easy to work on small teeth on a jumpy, lurching patient.)  “Do whatever you need, and thanks for making sure I won’t feel this.”

“Some people need more than others when it comes to the novocaine.  It depends on your body’s metabolism, the way the nerves are mapped, and other factors.  You’ve said that dental work is painful for you, and that pain keeps you from wanting to make and follow through on appointments.  I am glad you keep coming back, despite how uncomfortable it can be.  I want this to be as easy for you as possible so we can keep you healthy,” the dentist said as she prepared the injection.

A few minutes later, my jaw was entirely numb and my face had that disconcerting dental droop to it.  My tooth was fixed and looked great, thanks to the talent and patience of my dentist.

“Thanks for toughing it out,” she said as she removed her gloves.  “You have a cleaning in a few weeks, so I’ll see you then, but if this new cap gives you any trouble, call the office and we’ll get you right in to fix it up.”

“Fank you,” I said, and drooled to show my affection.  “I appwefiate it a wot.”

And off I went, unable to smile with my entire mouth, but inside, I was grinning because I have a healthcare professional on my team who makes it easy to work past the fear in order to be healthy.

[Here’s hoping the novocaine nonsense wears off by 4 pm EST, which is when I’ll be chatting live on TuDiabetes, alongside Jeff Hitchcock, talking about the Spare A Rose campaign.]