Well, I faced something today that I've been pretty scared about for a long time.
I got a root canal.
My poor tooth on the upper back left side had been hurting for about 2 years. Yes, I put it off for 2 years. It was so slight and infrequent at first...then I learned how to only chew on the right side of my mouth...before long that was just the norm and I barely noticed the twinge of pain in my tooth.
I should have faced it a long time ago. I tried to face it once about a year ago. I went to a dentist and even went to the endodontist he recommended, but I could never make the appointment for the actual root canal.
Finally, I had a good friend who is currently in dental school recommend the best dentist ever. This trusted dentist could do the root canal without even referring me to a specialist. I went in to get my teeth checked, and for the first time I felt like I received a clear picture of the problem and how to remedy it. I felt like I was in very capable hands. It wasn't completely certain if I would need a filling or a root canal, but the signs were pointing to the worst case scenario.
I made the appointment for early May but fell sick the day before and had to cancel. Part of me was a bit relieved because I was dreading this possible root canal. I rescheduled for today, and since I didn't get sick last night...I had to go in and face it.
I arrived feeling nervous. I told the dental assistant about that and said "yes" to her offer of nitrous oxide. I also made it clear to the assistant and dentist that I wanted them to err on the side of "too numb" instead of "not numb enough." I really did not want to feel this.
Now, it's been a while since I had any dental work done, but I think they had that gas turned as high as it goes because within 2 minutes I totally busted out laughing. And this was no giggle, but I was hysterically laughing with tears streaming down my face. I was kind of out of it but I could tell the dentist and assistant were cracking up about it, too. It took me several minutes to calm down I was laughing so hard. Turns out that really helped me break the nervousness I had been feeling. I was ready to get this thing over with.
The shots were fine. I wasn't worried about them at all. My main concern was that halfway through the drilling I would suddenly feel some kind of sharp terrible pain. So every once and a while I'd ask "If I haven't felt anything yet, is it likely I am going to feel anything soon?" The dentist was sweet to reassure me that if I had not felt anything yet then he was positive it wasn't going to happen. That helped me calm down and endure the long procedure. I would be interested to know what all he was doing to my tooth, if only it wasn't my mouth. I think I would find it fascinating, but in this case ignorance is truly bliss. If I had known or even if I found out now what was going on I don't think I could mentally handle it.
Finally, the work came to an end, the temporary filling was in place, the gas was removed, and I was free to go. I survived one of my biggest fears! It turns out I had nothing to be worried about. It didn't hurt at all, and there is only some slight pain (from the shots I think, not the tooth work) after the fact.
I'm feeling a bit proud of myself tonight. I really didn't want to do that. I mean, it was hard! I was terrified about having a root canal. It took every ounce of my energy, self-control, and faith to face it this morning. But I did it, and now it's over.
I guess it's true what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I do feel stronger tonight after facing a fear. Maybe whatever the next fear is, it will be a little easier because of my success today. Who knows.