Since my work travel schedule had a little break in it this month, it was time to get some things taken care of. This week, it was a visit to the dentist, for a root canal and a crown.
So yeah, if you want to know if I’m enjoying my time at home, not as much as you might imagine. 😉
The thing that having a root canal this week reminded me of though, is how much of a process something that is good for you can be. Like many abuse survivors, I have issues with going to the dentist office. On top of that, I also had the “pleasure” of a pediatric dentist who considered Novocaine and other numbing agents to be too dangerous for children to be given.
So yeah, he drilled and pulled teeth with no numbing at all. On 5 and 6 year old me. I feel pain in my mouth just writing that.
I don’t often diagnose myself with anything, especially something as complex as PTSD, but I’m pretty sure I have dental PTSD. So, for me to need a crown, and eventually a root canal, you have to consider a couple of things:
- My tooth has been bothering me a great deal, for a long time.
- I now have a dentist who knows all about my past, and has a plan for treating me. Really, the whole staff is awesome about all of it.
- That plan involves being sedated, starting the night before my appointment, continuing with more sedatives an hour prior, gas during the procedure, a numbing gel, shots of Novocaine, and then painkillers to take after all of that wears off.
So yeah, it’s a process. But in the end, the process is both what I need to do in order to get the help I need, and necessary because the alternative of not dealing with it is untenable.
Sounds an awful lot dealing with abuse and mental health problems, doesn’t it?
Yes sometimes dealing with the past can be a process. There’s not much that is easy about it, and one of the first things you have to do is come up with a plan that you can live with. But, once that plan is in place, it’s important to stick with it, because the alternative is not tenable.
Using my process as a metaphor there are a couple of things that come to mind.
- Sure you could consider my use of meds to be a sign of weakness, or a reliance on drugs. You can have that opinion if you want to, these aren’t your teeth, and my past isn’t your past. I know that I’m doing what I have to do in order to deal with a problem. That is strength, not weakness. Also, reliance on medications in order to make sure I don’t have a panic attack that prevents me from getting this taken care of is simply what I need to do. Just like when I spent a few years taking antidepressants so that I could go through therapy without the risk of being suicidal. Again, it’s simply doing what you have to do.
- I have a team of people, starting with my wife, who has to drive me back and forth due to the medications, and the staff at the dentist office who understand what I am dealing with, and support me in doing what I need to do.
- Even with all of that, a root canal still sucks. No one would tell you otherwise. But you get one for the greater good to yourself. Healing, going to therapy, possibly being medicated, all of it sort of sucks too. We do it anyway because of the end result. That’s the important thing. If it were easy, we wouldn’t make such a big deal about child abuse survivors, and we wouldn’t have something like National Suicide Prevention Day, tomorrow. People would just go get better, no worries! It doesn’t work that way.
Sometimes, problems need to be dealt with at the root level, and that isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to require a plan, some help, and probably a little bit of pain in order to get to the end result you want.
That end result? Totally worth it, though.