Today I went to the dentist. I almost didn’t, but I knew I had to. For several months I could feel impending dental doom. With my tongue, I traced and retraced the already sensitive space between the top of my tooth and my gum line, feeling a widening gap that felt more zingy and twingy and oh-my-god-don’t-touch-me-y. Lately my hot coffees and cold beers have been two necessary evils. Pleasure mixed with pain. I went in to the appointment worried that at this rate by the time I hit my sixties or seventies my teeth would be like those of a neglected pet guinea pig who has been unable to wear down their dentition, only my teeth would appear to be extending upwards, due to excessive gum erosion, instead of uninterrupted downward growth. As it turns out, I have a bit of recession, but nothing too out of the ordinary, and the real culprit is just that I’m highly sensitive.
Story of my life.
As I sat reclined on the chair, my hands were clenched and my glasses fogged up, and beams of light from the fluorescent bulb created little rainbows as they passed through beads of sweat that had collected on the dentist-appointed specs. Even though the sensitivity paste had been slathered on and the numbing gel applied carefully on top of that, I still couldn’t help but anticipate the horrific scraping and zinging of impending nerve pain. As she was cleaning the wine and coffee stains from my soon-to-be pearly whites, Corrine, my favorite dental hygienist (and the only person on this planet I will let near my teeth) sensed my non-verbal cues and asked me,
“Can you feel anything?”
“Nope. I just need to relax”.
Story of my life.
My anxieties are always high and I’m perpetually taking everything more personally than I probably should. The problem is that for many of us sensitive folks it probably looks like we don’t care. We get hurt and try to hide it and then at a certain point we feel we keep get beaten down and then we lash out. Act like an asshole. Leave the ones who inadvertently hurt us feeling a sting of their own. They are confused and feel we’re being unreasonable and the cycle continues.
I used to be like this with my teeth. I avoided the dentist for a couple of years (horrible idea, I absolutely do not recommend this plan of action to anyone) because of my sensitivity pain and when I finally went back in I immediately demanded Novocaine, probably at a much higher volume, and octave, than was considered appropriate for speaking indoors. Thankfully, Corrine saw my pain through my assholery and as it turned out she came up with some much better alternatives than shots in the gums. But, most people aren’t as perceptive as Corrine. It would be easy to misunderstand why I avoided going back, some might think I was a lazy schlob who didn’t give a shit about hygiene at all, or they might think I was a hypochondriac who just wants all the medical attention on me, or they might think I’m just an ass who likes to yell at people and make them feel bad. But that’s not the case. I was just in pain and afraid of more pain and neither of those feelings tend to result in our best behavior.
So, while I’m not one for resolutions, I am one for continuously trying to improve oneself. I’m resolving to work on my sensitivities. As in, not avoiding them until the problem compounds, and not acting like an asshole because of them.
Today I got a special varnish application on my teeth to help with the dental sensitivity issue. Wish me luck in dealing with my heightened reactivity in the other areas of my life.