Thursday, 14 August 2014

Katrine, the gin in her ear, and the dentist


Katrine, the gin in her ear, and the dentist
14 August 2014

It is a well-documented fact, that my sister has an extreme fear of dentists. 

No, I don’t think you understand.  Extreme.

Now to be fair, as a profession, dentists are generally not all that well liked.  Which hardly seems fair to them. 

They don’t hurt people on purpose.  In fact, in order to prevent hurting people, they give them an injection, that anaesthetises them.  Minimising pain. 

In addition, they’re usually kind enough to wait before commencing with drilling work, until the drugs have kicked in and your mouth is blessedly numb.

So do they deserve all this bad press?  All this paranoia?

Well, yes. 

I’ve got my own theory.  It’s not so much the pain, as the creepy noises when they’re drilling away and working.  The awkward conversation they’re trying to make, while you’ve got a spit-sucker and numerous dental equipment in your mouth, and you can’t answer back properly.  The dentist smell.  The silly little pictures on the ceiling, or the mobiles they have dangling from the roof.  The stomach churning you experience in the waiting room, listening to someone else having some work done in the chair.  The stupid little cups, with mouth wash, that you end up dribbling down your chin.  That idiotic fat-tongue feeling afterwards.  For me there’s definitely a correlation between the fat-ness of my tongue and my IQ.  The fatter and clumsier my tongue feels, the more intellectually challenged I become.  And act.

Yes, so it’s perfectly clear – I’m not really a dentist fan per se.  Or should I say, either.

Yet, I don’t have the whole irrational fear thing going for me.  I mentally take a slice of time, the bit while I’ll be at the dentist, and I put it in a bubble.  I remove my body from my brain, disconnect, and simply get on with it.  I don’t think about it before the time.  And to be honest, I’m never really hurt at the dentist.  Actually I rather like my dentist a lot.  She’s kind and gentle.  And she understands my garbled talking while I’ve got the spit-sucker and dental equipment in my mouth.  I’m guessing that learning how to really listen to people with speech impediments, forms a large part of dental training and school.

But my sister, Katrine?  Well, she takes dentist-fear to a whole new level.

She cries when she makes the appointment.  A few times.  Usually over the phone to the receptionist.  Then in remembrance of having made the appointment, she cries.  Numerous times.  Dread fills her stomach and wets her palms.

The day before an appointment is usually the worst.  For her and her family.  She’ll break down a few times.  Crying intermittently.  But by now, her family understands.  Her husband and kids humour her.  Tease her.  Yet treat her with empathy and kindness at the same time.

The drive to the dentist is interspersed with tears.  And she normally succumbs to a fresh outburst of tears, upon entering the reception area.  Often blubbering on the shoulder of the receptionist.

I remember when she had to have her wisdom teeth removed.  She came to stay with us, and I took her and fetched her from the dentist, and was basically there to hold her hand and calm her down.  We had reason to phone the dentist’s rooms before the removal, just to double check some or other detail.  Can’t quite remember what.  But we needed to ask the dentist something about the painkillers she had to use, or something like that.  And upon explaining our need to get some info, the receptionist put her hand over the telephone receiver and told the dentist in a loud stage whisper, “It’s Mrs Auld – the one that cries so much”.  True story.

Part of Katrine’s process in between crying, is indulging in excited and fast nervous chatter.  Talking about anything and everything.  Usually too fast.  Not making all that much sense.  I believe adrenaline kicks in and she powers on, on pure hysteria.  Hoping that the sound of her own voice will calm her down.  It doesn’t work.

While over in England, she had cause to go to the dentist again.  A familiar dentist, she’d used before. 

She followed her usual pattern.  Tears.  Anxiety.  Stress.  Fear.  Nervous chatter.

And then, in an effort to calm her nerves before her appointment, she decided to go down to the municipal pool with her daughter, for a swim.  She assumed it would be both relaxing and distracting.

However, she got water in her ear.  And couldn’t hear a blessed thing.  Now she’s pretty deaf at the best of times.  Having water in her ear, simply amplified (very funny), the problem.

I think she just felt off kilter.  And terribly out of sorts.  Not in control.

Now she’d heard this old wives story about getting water out of your ear.  Supposedly the density of alcohol is different than the density of water.  Which would help to burst the water bubble trapped in your ear, leaving you water-free once more and able to hear perfectly.

And so, mere minutes before leaving for the dentist, she asked her stepson Cory, to quickly give her a hand.  The first liquor she grabbed hold of was a bottle of Gin.  Cory happily obliged, tipped a bit in her ear, and I’m assuming didn’t spill too much in the process.

However, marvellous though this plan seemed on paper, it didn’t work.  The water was still in her ear.  She still couldn’t hear.  She was still crying.  She was still scared.  She still chattered nervously and way too fast.

And now she stank of alcohol too.

I believe she cried in reception when she got there.  Cried in the chair, when it was finally her turn.  Kept on saying pardon, cause she couldn’t hear.  Kept on giggling nervously in between.

She was mortified when she realised that the dentist must think she’s really odd.  Apart from the crying and babbling that is.  And then she tried to explain why she reeked of alcohol.

“I’ve got some Gin in my ear.”

I believe he gave her a very, very odd look.  Most likely mentally making a note, “Sure she’s a young mother – must remember to phone Health and Safety.  She doesn’t sound all that stable.”

Recognising his very strange look, Katrine then compounded it by waving her arms around, pointing at her ears, and saying, “I’ll take it any way I can get it.  Just shove it in.”  Yes, that would be the nervous chatter I told you about.

I’m surmising that by this stage he was visualising rehab at the very least.

However, I suppose on some level, he was rather used to her by now.  Having lived through more than one consultation before.

She eventually joined the dots between the reeking of alcohol, the wild gesticulating, the odd expression, the tears, the excessive chatting, and the bubbling too. 

And upon explaining the situation to him properly, he burst out laughing.  And thought it was very, very funny.
Which I believe in turn made him question not only her dental health, but her mental health too.

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  1. I had forgotten this story! Indeed very funny!! No matter what you say, you somehow seen to be in trouble!!
    I have been to the dentist with joke!!

  2. Well written. My fear of dentists lead me to become a dental nurse. I remember making my appointment the first one of the day, not to have to live in fear for hours.

  3. only our Katrine !!!!!! stunning story xxx