Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Phobias

Yesterday evening we had an unexpected visit from John, a friend of ours who looked very pale so I asked him if he was all right.

‘I’ve just come from the dentist,’ he said, sinking onto a chair with evident relief. ‘He said I might have to have several teeth out and I’ve been so worried, I haven’t been able to sleep, and then I get stressed out and my stomach plays up and I haven’t known what to do.’

Himself, being of a practical, forthright nature, said, ‘It’s all mind over matter, John. You just need to programme your brain and stop all this.’

‘It’s not like that,’ I said. ‘Remember my panic attacks? Poor John, you’ve had a horrible time. I know just how you feel.’

John looked mightily relieved that I understood, and started telling us various instances in his childhood when he’d been badly hurt by a dentist culminating in this terrible fear of needles. No wonder the poor fellow’s in such a state over it all now. It’s been festering all these years.

John’s 68 and very much of the thinking that such things as phobias don’t exist, so I’m delighted he was able to tell the dentist of his fears. We share the same dentist who’s a lovely fellow and has said he can give John Valium next time, and a numbing gel for the injection, because he has an exceptionally low pain threshold.

‘I feel so stupid,’ John said, gulping down a glass of wine with shaking hands. ‘A great big bloke like me being frightened of a little needle. It doesn’t make sense.’

‘No,’ I said. ‘But when has logic had anything to do with it?’

I do feel for him. I can remember all too well the feelings of shame and inadequacy I had when I had panic attacks, but being a six foot plus bloke who’s always been physically active all his life must make it seem even worse. Still, at least he could come and talk to us about it.

‘If there was anything I could change about myself, it would be this phobia,’ John said. ‘I hate having to live with it.’

Himself looked up and grinned. ‘Remember that cartoon?’ he said with a twinkle in his blue eyes. ‘The patient’s sitting in the dentist’s chair and the dentist has a needle in his hand, so the patient grabs him by the balls.
The caption is, “We’re not going to hurt each other, are we?”

I was relieved to see that John gave a smile. A faint one, but it was there.

13 comments:

The Rotten Correspondent said...

Okay, the cartoon cracked me up!

My husband is also terrified of dentists, also going back to a bad dental experience as a younger adult. He practically has to be sedated half to death to even sit in the chair.

And I agree with you about the panic attacks. As a "survivor" of them, so to speak, I find it gives me enormous empathy for anxiety in others. It is NOT a good feeling.

Flowerpot said...

sorry you've had panic attacks as well, correspondent. Horrible. And also sorry your husband is terrified of dentists. Not that any of us LIKE them, but abject terror is different.

Lizzie said...

Hi Flowerpot - I've just called by from Penny's blog. I had a friend who had to have a general anaesthetic before she could have a dentist even look into her mouth! Don't know how she must get on these days (we lost touch a while ago.)
BTW - well done on your book.

Flowerpot said...

Lizzie - pleased to meet you and please call this way again! don't blame your poor friend - I've had a spate of having teeth out this year and it nearly got to that stage!

Graham & Prince said...

I'm so glad you've put a picture of Mollie up - she looks a real little sweetheart! And I love the one with the cat.....

Dee said...

Dentists - not my favourite people to visit I'll admit. I have to say though that I have been to a couple of very very good ones, no pain whatsoever, even when rather major things were done.

The 'standoff' picture is cracking me up!

Flowerpot said...

Graham, P & T - I originally posted these pictures in May when I first set up the blog, but given that the animals are so much part of our lives, I felt they deserved greater status on my blog! Yes, Moll is a sweetie - a strong minded one at that, but then you know all about terriers. And the cat - well, he came first so he's the Boss. Or so he thinks.

Flowerpot said...

Dee - yes, I love the Standoff one. As I said to Graham, the cat is The Boss - he was here first which was why we couldn't get a rescue dog - it wouldn't have been fair on Bussie. Not that the animals rule our lives or anything...

Rebecca Taunton said...

Phobias can be dreadful things and I can well understand one of dentists, even though I've always been lucky and been to dentists that have never hurt me.

In the past I've had panic attacks; i agree that it makes you more sympathetic to other's fears.

RT

Flowerpot said...

RT - I think at some level we're all frightened of dentists - after all, someone poking around our mouths is incredibly invasive, isn't it?

Miss Understood said...

My stepdad has to have a general anaesthetic before he even opens his mouth. He's a hulk of a man too. It must be awful to be that terrified.

Flowerpot said...

MissU, glad to see you again. Isn't it strange - it seems to be mostly men who are terrified of dentists.

Akelamalu said...

Oh don't get me going on Dentists - I have white knuckles when I'm having a check-up!