3 Dec
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Worry and a Toothache

tooth with a crown

I’m anxious by nature, simultaneously eager for the next step and worry-prone. I’ve learned to deal with anxiety more adequately as I age.  My husband, who has witnessed more than his fair share of me handling things poorly, may disagree. He knows I can work myself to the point of no sleep, bad dreams, crankiness and tears. My worries can spiral to Armageddon proportions if I don’t reign the anxious thoughts in.

I’ve attempted over the last 13 years to talk with our children at different stages about worrying. A handful of times someone will vent a concern or show signs of anxiety, and they know their mom will understand. Whatever they’re worried about I probably have been or am currently sharing the same anxious thoughts. It seems all four of them are more laid-back like their dad. Hallelujah! Dealing with anxiety is tiring and can consume you.

A couple of weeks ago one of my molars began aching. It was painful to eat on one side of my mouth, and I knew the dentist had to be called. My dentist is a perfectly nice man. His staff is lovely. I enjoy my cleanings and catching up with my hygienist. However, the thought of dental work sends me into a tizzy. I had a less-than-stellar wisdom tooth removal in high school. One of my sinuses was perforated. There were a lot of stitches in my mouth, and the swelling was ridiculous. I went almost a decade after that before I even stepped foot in a dentist office again. It wasn’t until we graduated from college and were married that Craig convinced me it was time to brave a visit.

I sat in the exam chair two weeks ago listening as I was told I needed a crown. I looked through a pamphlet explaining the process and could feel my stomach churning. I nodded, smiled and peppered the dentist with questions. He had no idea I was ready to bolt from his office and take my chances with eating on one side forever. It was all I could do to stay seated and act like a reasonable adult who just wants the best for her body. It wasn’t until he touched on the topic of root canals that I decided to commit to having a crown placed on my molar. I made my appointment, quickly walked to the car and called Craig. My anxiety coping skills had vanished. Poof. Craig is adept at reeling me back in to a sensible view on life.

This week I had the first of two appointments for my crown. I tossed and turned the night before the procedure. A couple of friends texted, reminding me I can handle hard things. I adore people who let me feel all my feelings without judgement. I walked to school with our younger kids before my appointment. As I gave hugs saying goodbye, our 11-year-old asked what time my appointment was and said he would pray for me to be calm (if he remembered to look at the clock). As much as I despise feeling anxious, I appreciate others tending my tender heart and mind through anxious moments.

It was fine. I metabolize the numbing medicine quickly, which makes it the only thing my body is capable of metabolizing quickly. Someone should really invent a quiet dental drill. I’m getting my kids on this now. Quieter drills would be a dental anxiety game-changer. The staff knows people don’t enjoy dental work. I didn’t have to tell anyone I really didn’t want to be there. I was met with soothing voices and genuine care, not just for my mouth but my feelings as well. Even with all that, this crown better work because I am not having a root canal.

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