I’ve started this post about 10 times but I think I’ve just been awash with work since coming back.

To fill you in, the day after my last post, after I booked to go into the dentist, my condition worsened greatly.  I had a streaming nose, a headache and the toothache just seemed to intensify by the hour. There was no sleeping going on, a lot of painkillers being taken and quite a bit of crying happening.  I felt so helpless to relieve the pain and the more sleepless hours I had, the more difficult it became to cope.



Sunday morning I phoned NHS24 and then the Lothian Dental Advice service, and got myself an appointment for the emergency dentist.  It says a lot about the pain I was in that I couldn’t bring myself to wait any longer. I was going to jump head-on into one of my worst fears – one of the worst situations for me to get myself into.

When I phoned and organised the appointment, I mentioned my fears. I have a problem, however, with saying this without tears, which is kinda funny in retrospect. I mean, I could right now, but I had this ridiculous problem where I would choke whenever I tried to express that I was scared.

They got the point.

I believe she put a note on my file, because when I went into the room (Dave in tow, bless him), they were unbelievably kind and gentle with me, and explained absolutely everything as they went, and while I felt like a small child in that chair that day, I appreciated it so much.



They explained that the crown had broken on the wisdom tooth, and that it was badly infected and needed to be extracted.  After it was pulled she explained that there was “communication” into the sinus cavity, and that was why I had a runny nose and headache, and an awful taste in my mouth.

I was told to rest, not to lie flat, to take ibuprofen and decongestants and was given high-dose antibiotics.  I went to bed.

For a week.



I spent some time on the couch, but mostly I was in bed, sleeping for around 3 hours at a time, sitting propped up, counting the hours between each drug intake.  The pain in my tooth (or where it was, rather) lasted barely any time at all, but the sinus infection raged like crazy through me.  The headache was almost unbearable at times, I was weak and dizzy and so tired, but the worst was the infection coming into my nose and mouth.  I wasn’t allowed to blow my nose, only to wipe if needed, and honestly. I’ve had meningitis. I’ve had pneumonia.  Hell, I’ve had vestibular neuronitis.  All of them were more pleasant than this.  I don’t want to gross y’all out, but it was like having bin juice in my nose and mouth. Or pus-y water. Or something.  It was downright disgusting and after a few days it became seriously depressing.



Despite the joy of eating as much icecream as I could, I spent quite a bit of time crying.  Then I spent quite a bit of time chastising myself for crying.  But I just desperately needed sleep and relief from the pain and the.. discharge.  Once it finally did start to ease and I felt human again, I vowed to never again take for granted not being in pain. I’m typing this right now, pain-free, and I’m so grateful.



And the main positive out of all this? (because I am nothing if not disgustingly positive), I went to my new dentist on the Wednesday, and I wasn’t scared.  I lay in the chair and felt like most other dentist-goers, feeling nervous but not terrified. And despite the fact that my other upper wisdom tooth needs to be pulled in a few weeks? the rest of my teeth are fine.  Like, honestly. Who goes 10 years without a dentist and gets no fillings? I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.



Once I was up and moving again, I put my effort into improving my immune system, yet again.  Vitamins and manuka honey and sleeping at a reasonable hour and getting back into exercise. I’d stopped running because my shoes were terribly unsupportive, so I got myself some new shoes. They’re kinda like running on air.

Oh and I refinanced my debt, which is going to save me like £500.  And I sold some stuff and upgraded my iPad.  That has given me a wee happy boost.



We’ve also had some good times with family lately – Dave’s brother and his wee family are moving back to NZ in September so we’ve tried to get together a bit lately.  Dave’s brother turned 40 and then wee Imogen turned 4, so we’ve had a few celebrations.



And the weather has been pretty good to us, too.  So I’m trying to put that week behind me and focus on the now.

I’m also now the world’s most obsessive teeth-cleaner.







Facing fears



I decided (possibly naively) that this year I was going to face some of my fears. Bold move!  But I turned 30 and thought: now or never.

I’d like to say I don’t have many fears.  But I do.  And as a start, I wanted to tackle 2 of the biggest ones.




That, good friends, is a picture of the entrance to my loft.  Behind the trap door is the entrance to our office/spare bedroom, so you can see how bright and sunny a day it is. Up in the loft, it is pure darkness.

I’d like to say that I was a little girl who was terrified of the dark who grew up to be a woman who scoffed at it, but I’m not.  I don’t know if it’s the films I’ve tortured myself with my whole life or my over-active imagination (probably both), but I still struggle with the darkness.



I used to, as a child, read under the covers for hours and hours with a light – any light I could find. I’d get tired enough that I couldn’t stay awake, and then I could finally sleep. As I got older I have used lamps, hallway lighting (coming a bit into my bedroom) or, well, Dave to help me sleep in the darkness.  When he is on shift, the hallway light stays on until he is home.  He makes me feel safe enough to handle the dark the rest of the time.



I don’t know anyone else with these issues. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just because I don’t ask anyone about it, but I doubt that the majority of my friends panic when they hear a weird noise and burst into tears when in their panic they can’t find a light switch.

So I’m working on it.  My first step is that I tell myself it’s okay. I try to breathe normally. I let my eyes adjust for longer.  I know evil presences are not in my home, and things are fine.  It’s working a wee bit.  I came down from the loft last week holding a box in my hands and I was so very very close to dropping it and jumping down from the ladder just so I could get away from the loft.  Instead, I  took deep breaths, carried on slowly down, and slowly used the pole to close the trap-door.  It was small, but a step.



My other, major, more pressing issue is my fear of the dentist.  I’ve discussed this before, but it’s not a nervousness or a hassle to go, it is panic attack territory. Crying in public territory. Taking 6 months to work up the courage to walk in territory.

When I was a kid, I had a dentist. She wasn’t kind. She wasn’t gentle. And she didn’t believe me when I told her I was in pain: that her injections were not working. She didn’t believe that she had cut the side of my gums when she slipped with her drills until she realised how much I was bleeding. She told me to “stop crying”, that I was “being a baby” and that she’d treated kids in Guatemala who were braver than I.



I’ve never forgotten that feeling – being told that my feelings and fears were invalid, that I was stupid and small and a baby for putting my hand up to say I was in pain.  I lived in fear of this every time I went, and together with the fact that I knew it would cost me thousands (living in America and then New Zealand, where socialised medicine unfortunately does not cover dentistry), I eventually stopped going.  I think it has been well over a decade since I last went.



Well. Today, I walked in. I’ve been in pain for days, and I’ve been so scared to do anything about it, but I can’t put it off anymore.  Luckily, we have the NHS, so it will be affordable, and everyone I met when I registered today seemed nice.  I asked for an appointment with a dentist who was good with nervous people, and hopefully she will be. I go back on Wednesday.



Part of the motivation for all of this fear-facing is that it’s likely that I might be pregnant at some point next year and become a mother, and if I can’t look after my own teeth or cope with my own home then how am I going to chase away the big bad for my little ones? How am I going to convince them that dental hygiene is important if my teeth are rotting away and I’m ignoring the pain?

And I think what makes me break down over these issues and cry is that I am so hurt by these two things that are so very irrational. I know there is nothing in my loft or waiting in the dark for me and I know that I need to look after my teeth and not all dentists are horrible, but my own brain is fighting me on it.  It’s like my own mind is failing me, and that is so disappointing.  I need to stand up and say that I am bigger than these fears.

I need to be able to be brave.  And so I go.  Wish me luck.