Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner
judith

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Sometimes we don't want the attention.

I see a therapist once a month primarily for one reason: to have someone listen to me, give me her complete attention.

I felt, oddly, some of the same warmth that comes from that focus, today, in the dental surgeon's office. There were four people giving me all of their attention for 2-1/4 hours, three of whom held various instruments in my mouth most of that time.

The way this dental office operates can have this kind of effect. The dentist jokes with his assistants and they joke back, but it is always gentle joking, and surrounded by many polite requests, expressions of appreciation, recognition of good work among them all. I come in for many of these expressions, too. Although the best I can do is lie there being still and open my mouth to allow insertion and removal of rubber blocks , close my eyes when Dr. D is stitching (he worries that he might goof and stab my eyeball), and murmur when they ask if I'm doing all right, still they will tell me I'm doing really well, I'm a great patient, throughout the procedure. The assistant also touched me when she had a free hand, patted me on the shoulder reassuringly when she could.

So I did feel some appreciation of the attention. But I wouldn't recommend this way of getting it.

I had been here before, knew it wasn't a great way to spend a few hours, but also knew I could handle it. And yet I still felt my heart beat take off almost as soon as the work began. It felt almost like a panic attack. I was not particularly worried, couldn't associate the feeling with any thoughts I was having, so it surprised me. After that initial rush, I noticed my heart beat racing a few more times, but not quite as high.

More often, I caught myself tensing up and took deep slow breaths to relax. I did this countless times, from the first prick of the needle (I believe there were eight more), through the hammering of my jaw (I felt like a construction site) to the "smoothing" of the donor and receiver sites, to the final stitching.

Afterwards, Dr. D said something complimentary about how well I had handled it, adding "Most patients don't much like this procedure. There is so much going on." I would have said I didn't exactly like it either, but my jaw was swollen, my lips were numb, I was holding an ice pack to my face, I wasn't speaking so well then.

I have been good about the ice, except for a trip with Mary to Borders later in the afternoon, where I finally asked her to get me a glass of ice and wrapped it in a napkin to press to my face. The Vicodan was wearing off at the time too, so I was in the right state to feel sorry for myself.

After Mary and Joey headed for Morro Bay to take in a baseball game, I drove to the pharmacy for my prescriptions and then on home, where I downed more Vicodan and grabbed an ice pack. I feel much better now. My face is not as swollen as it was the first time we went through this, but it is swollen on both sides instead of just one (Dr D went to the other side for the donation this time, because the bone there is older, a better "texture", he said, more likely to react right, bond well). Only the middle of my mouth doesn't hurt right now. That's not great but it's not awful either. The gum tissue is not stretched the way it was the last time, no tension there. There is greater hope that it will stay stitched this time.

I made cream of potato soup while my mouth was un-numbing this afternoon, and Mary and Joey and I all had some. I later had a few bites of a vegetarian chile we bought at Borders, and a bite of a lemon bar. Tonight, ice cream! There are indeed some pleasant side effects. I feel a kind of hope here, like maybe this time
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