Yesterday I had my 6-months' dental check-up and came home with the usual samples....
....but with one less tooth. I knew I had a bad tooth. At my last 6-months' appointment I'd pointed out the tooth I suspected was causing the pain but my dentist, even with an x-ray, could not see anything wrong with it. The pain eventually went away as long as I didn't chew on that side, but now I could feel a difference in that tooth with my tongue.
My appointment was supposed to have been two weeks ago but the hygienist was out so it was rescheduled with a different doctor in the office for yesterday--someone I'd never seen before. So when he told me it couldn't be saved because there was too much filling and not enough tooth I felt the panic rising in me. I have an innate distrust of doctors as well as some bad experiences to reinforce my distrust. The new-to-me dentist was explaining my choices--do nothing and risk infection along with not being able to chew on that side of my mouth vs. pull it and probably require a bone transplant so a post could be implanted to secure a crown to fill the gap. At this point I sorta drifted out of my body in order to cope with having to make a decision that held no good options as far as I was concerned. On top of that, was he sure the tooth couldn't be dealt with any other way?
I was left alone for a few moments while he went to check his schedule and the availability of his assistant and the room where the tooth would be pulled if I should decide to have it done right then and there. It was then the song I posted the other day came floating through my head....♫Still, My Soul Be Still....God, You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken...♫ Then things began to change.
The hygienist returned and I voiced my concerns aloud to her. She was careful not to offer me her opinion. So I decided to request a new x-ray to confirm the diagnosis. If he still maintained it needed pulling, I would go home and wait for my regular dentist to look at it upon his return and give me a second opinion.
I moved to the new room, had the x-ray, and once the technician left the room gathered up my belongings and went to the front desk so I could inform the receptionist of my plan. There I discovered the doctor looking at the x-ray on his lap top telling the hygienist what he saw. I could tell by the look on the assistant's, hygienist's, and receptionist's faces, who all had seen my arrival at the front desk, that I was not being a "good patient" because I had not remained in the treatment room. When my presence was pointed out to the doctor he called me over to look at the x-ray myself. He pointed out the areas of infection--which just looked like shadows to me--and the hairline crack--which I couldn't see at all. But in that moment I knew what I had to do--have it removed and the sooner the better.
He conceded that I didn't have to have a crown if I didn't want one since it was at the end of the row and would not affect the rest of my teeth. But once in the chair and given the Novocain to numb the area he proceeded to tell me all the things that could go wrong while trying to wrestle that tooth out, so I still wasn't out of the woods....the woods where fear lurked. But I settled back in the chair and allowed the words of the song to wash over me in my head. It was interesting that the dentist at that point told his assistant he had a Billy Joel song going through his head. It seems there was some competition in the troposphere! But my song won out. I relaxed despite all that was going on inside my mouth. Now, a day later, my mouth almost feels back to normal and I'm so glad I took care of it while I was still there--no extra 60-mile roundtrip back to the dentist--no build-up of anxiety of what was to happen.
Father, thank you for holding my hand when I felt anxious about making the right decision and that I didn't bolt like I felt like doing. And then when I did make a decision I had immediate peace about it.
Link to Scripture: http://niv.scripturetext.com/psalms/62.htm
Take Action: American Dental Association Advocacy