One thursday morning in 1997 I was sitting at morning assembly at my boarding school (it wasn’t as fancy as it sounds). I was tonguing around inside my mouth, applied a little pressure to my front teeth. That’s when I hear a small crunch, and the next thing I know I’m holding a piece of tooth in my hand.
I’ve always been terrified of dentists. I can’t remember how or why it got to be that way, but it’s just one of those things. My last memory of visiting a dentist is sorta kinda like what I imagine dying is like. Being blinded by stark white light, blood pounding so hard it causes a headache, while lying down unable to move. Not exactly the thing you want to actively pursue.
This irrational fear has motivated one poor decision after the other. It’s coming up on 11 years since I’ve last set foot in a dentists office. As a result, my teeth … well, let me put it this way; Aleppo is in better shape.
And while it started as fear and phobia, shame has since creeped through the door those two bastards kicked open. And it’s been compounded as time went by. I feel self-conscious about my smile, which is filled with discolouring and chipped teeth. And so it became easier to justify not doing something about it. And that excuse moved onto a financial one, as it became readily apparent that the work needed was going to be ridiculously expensive. And so the situation deteriorated.
I really want to be able to smile again. Smile without thinking about what others might think. Especially since I have so much to smile about these days. My business is doing well, I have the Doctor in my life (and she is just amazing) and the days are looking brighter and brighter, even as we’re moving towards winter.
So now I’m facing the demons Shame and Fear. They’ve been riding me for more than twenty years. I’m terrified, and anxious, and excited, and nervous. But something has to change. And so on Sunday I’m taking the first of three trips to Poland, for extensive dental surgery. Wish me luck.