Yes, a trip to the dentist. You read that title correctly, it did. It changed my entire perspective on what it means to live, on the concept of quality of life, on settling for circumstances that are within my power to change, on facing fears and phobias, staring them in the face, giving them the finger and moving forward.
All that from a trip to the dentist? Yes! I know it sounds like an exaggeration, right? I can hear you now, “People go to the dentist all the time and they don’t have epiphanies, I mean, it’s the dentist”. I agree, but to understand what this experience did for me I’ll have to give you a little background first. The first thing to know is that I hate the dentist (or at least I did), with a deep passion. But, in the name of awareness, let’s be clear: hate is a defense mechanism against fear. So, if I’m being completely honest then I’ll say it for what it is: I fear the dentist, and as such, I hate the dentist. The novocaine, the novocaine needle, the drill, the bib, all of it. I’ve had issues with my teeth my entire life, from cavities as a child to braces as a preteen and teen, to wisdom teeth, more cavities, extractions, root canals, crowns, to crowns coming off and needing to be replaced, to oral surgery..it has been a saga. And very rarely, I can count on one hand, has the experience been remotely pleasant.
For example, my teeth are very sensitive and I usually require more novocaine than, I guess, the average person would. I’m guessing that’s the case by the response I always got from the dentist when I’d tell them, “Uh, yes, actually I can feel the drill.”, only to be met with disbelief and frustration from the dentist because novocaine costs money. Sometimes they would give me more, other times they would tell me that it was in my head or just the pressure from the drill and then proceed as if my pain and discomfort was imagined, when in fact it was unimaginable.
As a result of these experiences, not only was I not a fan of the dentist to put it mildly, but I didn’t trust them. I considered the dental industry a scam and a sham. If I take my car to the mechanic and he/she takes out the carburetor, he/she has to put it back in. As far as I know, there’s not a separate charge for that. So if I need to have a root canal that will leave my tooth a shell that could potentially break and cause me more problems, why am I getting charged separately for the crown? But that’s another discussion, so I’ll move on.
My overall point is that with my history of dental suffering, you could say I’m a bit jaded. Now, I’m also human, a work in progress, evolving and learning the lessons that this life journey has to teach me, both painful and joyful. But, suffice to say I avoid the dentist like the plague. Historically, I do not go unless I’m in A LOT of pain or discomfort. The flip side being that I do everything in my power to NOT have to go i.e. brushing twice daily, flossing, mouthwash, plus I’ve done oil pulling, baking soda and other natural remedies. But the times come when I have to go, when I cannot avoid it, when I have no choice, and even THEN, I will put it off for as long as I possibly can.
So now we’re up to speed on where I stand with the dentist, let me explain how I correlate this most recent experience with an epiphany about my perspective on life and living. At the beginning of 2016 I made a promise to myself to find more peace with my physical body. Do yoga, workout, improve my diet and become more concerned overall with my PHYSICAL health. It is not easy all the time, because hey, I love sugar and carbs. I’m 42 and haven’t worked out in years let alone been to a gym or yoga studio, but I’m getting there. Close to the end of last year I felt some sensitivity in my bottom molar on the left, every time I’d bite down. It didn’t hurt but it definitely didn’t feel “normal”. My solution? Stop chewing on that side. Made perfect sense for a few months..who needs to chew on BOTH sides anyway, amiright? No, I’m not. Because eventually the right side got tired AND began to hurt when I bit down too hard. So what do you do when you can’t chew on EITHER side? You suck it up and go to the dentist.
Now I’ll skip the ordeal it was to find a dentist that takes my health insurance, that I liked, that had good reviews online. It was surprisingly difficult, and actually took almost three months, but I finally found one with good reviews, not too far away. I make the appointment with an apprehension I can’t describe, and I walk the fifteen minutes or so like I’m walking the plank. But I was resolved to do it. And guess what? It was the most pleasant experience I’ve had at the dentist to date. And I was floored, shocked even! And then I had to go back two weeks later to have more work done, and again with the pleasant experience. But the true epiphany came after, when there was no more pain or discomfort and I could chew again on both sides.
Me. After the dentist that day. Actually that's not me but that's how I felt.
There was no more issue, it had been taken care of, and this discomfort that I’d been living with because of a fear, justifiable or not, was gone. Just like that. And all it took was action on my part, a choice made to consciously face my fear. Remember, I wasn’t in any pain, and I probably could have continued the way I was for at least a few more months. But I made the choice to fix something, to heal. And with that choice, I was set free. And not just from the discomfort, potential pain, or not being able to really chew and enjoy eating, but also from fear. I was released from a deep aversion that had afflicted me almost my entire life.
In choosing to not settle for the pain any longer, in choosing to get the help I needed, in choosing to love mySELF enough to take necessary action to improve my day to day life experience, in choosing to do something as simple as going to the dentist, my quality of life improved exponentially.
The process of awakening and healing can manifest in so many different ways as we face our fears and struggles, and learn to overcome them. And there are gems and nuggets of wisdom just waiting for us to find in even the most mundane of circumstances. And that is how a trip to the dentist changed EVERYTHING.