Thursday, July 14, 2011

Golden moment 45, written for July 13

Yesterday's golden moment may surprise some of you, but my golden moment was a gum graft.
Anyone out there have anxiety about dental work? I know I do. In fact, I feel quite justified in my anxiety over dental work. I had eight years of braces, (With no breaks people, they were on my teeth for 8 years straight) I had two major jaw surgeries, the first one lasted 8 hours and I couldn't talk, or eat solid food for about three months afterwards. It involved a bone graft from my hip to my jaw, laughing after having a chunk of bone scraped from your hip is excruciating. I gave birth without any drugs, or medication to ease off the pain, and I can tell you the graft was FAR worse than anything I felt in labor. Like a knife stabbing me it hurt so bad. I was afraid to sleep at night because I couldn't breathe very well, I was so swollen. In fact, the swelling did not go down completely for a whole year. Though the bruising did end eventually. Then, after all that, my jaw actually re-opened. And my teeth went crooked again. Not as bad as before surgery, but I do not have perfect teeth. I could actually bite normally for a short time, but the over bite just opened itself up again, and the doctor said it was so rare he hardly ever mentions it. But it only seems to happen to women between the ages of 18 and 25 or something, some weird fluke where the body just wants to reverse the effects of the surgery. And that statistic happened to be me. The second was only a four hour procedure and I don't think it was nearly as bad as the first. I don't remember much about it. Oh, and after I finally got my braces off, and teeth implants in, guess what, I had 18 cavities. I don't think I need to convince you any more that I have some SERIOUS anxiety surrounding dental work. I have literally gone in to have my teeth cleaned only to start hyper-ventalating and having a panic attack.

So you can imagine some of the trepidation I felt surrounding the gum graft I had to have done yesterday. But let me tell you what I did. When I had the thought "I DON'T WANT TO HAVE THIS GUM GRAFT DONE!" I actually decided to turn it around to "I want to have this gum graft done" and I found three truths in that. My truths were:

I want to take care of my teeth.
I love the office my periodontist works in, there are beautiful views of the forrest wetland outside her floor to ceiling windows
I really like my periodontist and look forward to visiting with her again.

As I walked into the office, or sat down in the chair and felt anxiety start to rise within me, I asked myself "Are you in pain? Are you safe? Is there really any danger here?" Every-time I had to answer, no to these questions and then I just told myself to relax.

At one point during the procedure my periodontist and her assistant were telling me a story that just made me laugh!  And I found myself marveling at the fact that despite having dental work done, I was happy enough to be laughing!

Whenever I felt my fists clench, my stomach tighten, or my lower back arch I asked myself the questions again, "Am I in pain? Is there really any danger here?" The answer always came up no, and once again I could relax.

The graft went beautifully, that hour was up before I knew it. When I went to get up, I had a drop in blood pressure and thought I would pass out, but my periodontist and her assistant were angelic as they put a cold lavender scented wash cloth on my forehead and slowly leaned my chair back for me. It took me a while to get my blood pressure high enough for me to get up without fainting but they were so sweet and let me take all the time I needed.

As I drove home I thought about the incredible blessing it was to have access to such good care, to be in such a comfortable setting, and to have such a kind periodontist who truly had a passion for her work.

That night, my periodontist called to check up on me. (I know, she is AMAZING!) And I told her that I was doing great, and that my gum graft that day had truly been one of the most enjoyable dental experiences I've ever had. In fact, I can honestly say it was a very nice afternoon.

My amazing mother in law has been kind enough to watch my toddler so I've had almost two full days to just rest and heal.

Discovering my power to just let go of such incredible anxiety astounded me. It was like cleaning up layers of clutter. The more you pick up the more you discover that there is something beautiful hidden beneath all the junk. It was like that with my thoughts, all I had to do was question the reality of my thought. "I'm anxious" really? Is that true, are you in PAIN right now? When I answered, honestly I could say "No" and then there was peace. Even if I had been in pain, I think it would have been okay. I would have gone from there, but I could deal with it without the stress, and fear factor.

Finding this within me, was incredible, it was so freeing and so peaceful. I learned so much from this experience. Everything was just wonderful. And that, was golden.

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