Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time for Dentists to Talk to Doctors

Hello Friends:

So this is something of an experiment. Not the dentist - I've done that before. The experiment is trying to blog when really depressed. Up to this point I've blogged at the moderately depressed level, and then punted when truly in the dark land. I'm trying to keep the tone here in Anxiety Land sort of upbeat, and I'll admit that for most of the time that is actually how I feel. I had this idea that I shouldn't blog depressed since I'd sound stupifyingly stupified. Or maybe just pathetic. Or too emo. I like a little emo, being a closet goth, but too much emo makes me feel like I'm still a teenager. I hated being a teenager. More than twenty years later and I still hate it.

Anyway, the point is this. As it stands, if I don't blog depressed you might not hear from me again for another two months (which may or may not be a bad thing). So here goes.


The dentists really need to get the doctors up to speed about how to deal with freaked out people. I made a point of talking about 'dealing with the crazed' when I was at the dentist on Monday. The receptionists, hygenists, and the dentist herself all have had some level of training, however informal, in dealing with scared people. Apparently, the idea that 'nobody likes dentists' is well known. Axiomatic. We all know it, they know it, and they work hard to get and keep clients in spite of it. And that means learning how to deal with anxiety disorders in patients.

I wonder how it is the doctors have not figured out that nobody likes them.

From the time I walk in the door at my dentist, everyone is smiling. The receptionist knows my name, and remembers I have 'issues'. They all say lots of soothing things as I go back to 'the chair'. Here is some of the conversation, assuming you define that word loosely.

- "Can I take your purse?" "Ah, yes, if you don't put it on the floor." (No problem)
- "We'll be using this room right there." "I can't touch the door knob." (No problem)
- "Anything we can do to make you more comfortable?" "Yeah, I need breaks sometimes, I want that topical anesthetic you use on the five year-olds, you need to constantly be telling me what you are going to do before you do it, and I want to control that suction-thingy myself. And by the way, point that x-ray machine away from me." (All no problem)
- "I'm going to floss your teeth now." "Nope, nobody flosses my teeth but me." (No problem)

And then, after much of this, I get to leave. Everyone tells me how great I did. And even though I have to come back for another cleaning in three months, I'm feeling dramatically better about making the appointment. It has taken them only a few visits to gain a certain amount of trust and confidence from me. When I say I want something, it happens. No matter how wacky it sounds, or how baffling my behavior, they all make it seem totally normal, and take me seriously.

So, again, why is it so very different at the doctor? The dentist pokes in your mouth, sure, but the doctors are constantly taking blood, prodding intimate places, and asking personal questions. How is it they don't try three times as hard as the dentists to make up for this? Is it simply because people can put off the dentist for ages, if they want, but everyone ends up at the doctor, eventually?

Well, not sure. And I don't have any witty words to end with, either. I just wish really hard that someone would close the gap on this. If there is a whole profession (dentistry) that accommodates anxious people with ease and normalcy, there is no reason for any other profession to fall behind. And those same skills make the place nice for everyone, not just us crazy people. You'd think it would just be market driven.

Oh, wait. I do have something to say in closing. Would you check out that pic up there? Pictures of women in corsets never cease to amaze me. I thought it had to be fake and then I saw her waist. Yes, I've forced my kidneys into my lungs, and my intestines are now in my uterus, but I keep my teeth all pearly white. Yep.

Dear God, talk about body issues. How did men feel it was safe to even touch creatures that looked like that? They look like they'd snap right across the middle. The news reel, "A local woman sneezed tonight while brushing her teeth. Distraught husband finds upper half still smiling." When I'm feeling bad about all the stupid things I do to try to meet some stupid society's stupid idea of beauty, I'll think of her. What I'm doing will still be stupid, but I won't feel so alone.

Your Hostess With Neuroses


Andy said...

I'm glad you had a good experience with the dentist. My dad _hated_ going to the dentist, always put it off. And as a result, usually ended up having to do major work.

I'm not sure why dentists and doctors are so different. Perhpas it's a function of the typical size of a practice? The dentists I've been to as long as I can remember were just 1 or _maybe_ 2 dentists in a suite, with a relatively high hygienist/worker to patient ratio. So it feels less like you're a cog in a factory, like when you're going to a GP with 9 other doctors and everybody's fallen behind, which propagates. So there's both an initial frustration (at being late) and perhaps a bit of an unconscious desire on the doctor's part to rush people through so as not to fall further behind...

But maybe I'm way off base here.

I see the dentist myself next week...

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey Andy - Maybe it is a factor of how many staff are in a practice. But I still maintain that the dentists prove the doctors could do a better job dealing with those of us with anxiety disorders. I don't think they do poorly at it because they are rushed, I actually think they do poorly at it because it is not valued. Harsh, but that's how it seems to me. The dentist staff are all aware, and have ways and means of dealing. The doctor's staff seem surprised and even put out when anxiety rears its head.

Either way, I hope you have an easy time with your teeth next week, and thanks for reading/commenting!

Dymphna said...

My dh has an anxiety disorder and goes to a sedation dentist.

Myself, I have a "thing" about the eye doctor. Unfortunately, I am at high risk for glaucoma. I really need to find an eye doctor who can deal with me. I agree with Blue--doctors tend to get personally insulted when anxiety appears.

Also, I need to get blood taken soon. I've learned to insist that I be lying down while they do it.

And, yeah. Body issues. Our culture is good at stirring those up.

Dymphna said...

Sorry. You *are* "Blue". I'm not operating up to par today.

The Blue Morpho said...

Hello Dymphna: Thanks for reading and commenting. Sorry you are having sub-par days, yourself. That's one of the things that always frustrates me about these disorders; never being able to predict when I'll be able to cope or instead be in bed all day.

I've never tried the sedation dentistry. I'm afraid of the drugs they use (no surprise). But I just might try it the next time I need major work done. I used to be afraid of the Ativan I take so I can fly, and now I love the stuff. I wouldn't be able to get on a plane without it.

I actually found a good eye doctor at a Lens Crafters. Well, good in the sense that she's understanding, friendly, and never in a rush. Who knows about her technical competence since I'm not an eye doctor myself. But as much as I hate the process, she does make it easier. I've a freckle on my retina that we are watching, and so I really can't miss eye appointments, either. But I feel very jumpy and vulnerable having to stare into various machines, and have things moving so close to my eyes.

Dymphna said...

I'm the same way about my eyes. I have to get blood drawn tomorrow and I'm hoping they let me lay down. If they only have chairs, I may have to lie on the floor! Should be fun!

The Blue Morpho said...

Hello Dymphna: I didn't get to ask before, but how did the bloodwork go? Were they nice to you? There's no way I'd lie down on the floor in a medical facility - my OCD's would be screaming about germs the whole time :) Hope you didn't have to resort to that.

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