#Metoo in the Dentist’s Chair
If the dental assistant put one more thing in my mouth I was going to have a meltdown. When he took the tray of goop out of my mouth, I felt a sense of relief. I had handled the lower impressions for my new nightguard just fine. My former dentist would only do lower impressions on me and make lower night guards due to my strong gag reflex.
“That wasn’t so bad,” I said with a big smile.
The male dental assistant looked at me and smiled. “The bottom is the easiest. Now it’s time for the top,” he said while plopping what looked like enough goop to choke me to death into a tray.
I felt prickly anxiety in my neck and face. “I thought she said we were doing a bottom nightguard.” This is what my dentist had said.
“We are, but the lab needs a top and bottom impression to make it fit correctly.” With that, he brought the tray to my mouth and I opened obediently.
It wasn’t the dental assistant’s fault that I had tears in my eyes as soon as that tray was in my mouth. It wasn’t his fault that I was immediately three year-old Lisa, sitting in my grandma’s living room with my teen step-uncle who was forcing me to perform fellatio. I’m sure this dental dude (never did get his name) was not a child molester or a middle-aged woman molester, but my body was not sure of that. My brain was certain I was in danger so the fight or flight chemicals fired up.
I began to cry and gag. I pulled the tray out and pushed his arm away. “I’m sorry!” I said, while crying and gagging. “Just get a woman please! It’s not you. Get a woman.”
I have always been calmer around female medical and dental professionals. It is one of the reasons why I had switched to this dentist. She always managed to make me feel comfortable, as she did this time, too.
The dentist came in the room and side hugged me as I sat in the dental recliner. Then, she told me she needed the impression and she was going to do it herself. I think I cried harder because she was being so nice to me. She grabbed a new tray of goop and had me lean all the way forward. She told me to look out the window, and then she put the tray in my mouth slowly and began talking to me and the female assistant in the room about all of the office gossip. I don’t know if any of it was true or not, but it held my attention learning about the lives of the people in the office.
When she took the tray out of my mouth, she patted my back and kissed the top of my head. I know it’s not standard procedure for your dentist to kiss you, but she understood my fear and anxiety and she wanted to let me know I was safe there.
That is how sexual abuse, or really any abuse in childhood, works. It never goes away. There are many things in life that can bring an adult survivor right back to that fear and pain. No matter how well the person is doing in their adult life, that panic can come back with almost no notice. This wasn’t the first time a medical or dental procedure put me into a panic. In the past, there had been failed uterine biopsy, an aborted barium enema, and a Sigmoid scope that never happened. I learned early in my adulthood that I needed to be knocked out for most things involving orifices. This particular episode at the dentist was my last meltdown. That day, I decided to go back on daily medication. It has helped a lot.
It was also around that time that I decided to share my story with others. I would like other people who have experienced abuse to know they are not alone. I know this book will not make some members of my outer circle happy, but I’m telling my truth anyway. This is what happened and I’ve been chasing normal ever since.
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