Yesterday, I had to go to the dentist. It was the first time since the accident and I knew I had to have that uncomfortable conversation with the person who cleans my teeth that I have PTSD and might cry. A 28-year-old, crying because of some toothpaste between her teeth, how humiliating.
The PTSD symptoms have been getting worse over the last couple of months. Lately, I have been having more issues with loud sounds, restlessness, falling asleep, anxiety, grit between my teeth, avoidance, and irritation. At first, I thought it was just because the semester and school year were starting. I am at a new job and am working at my other side jobs as well. The Fall tends to be one of the busiest times of year for me, but it wasn’t that. I started to notice the patterns, I read more about how I was feeling, and felt relieved to know I wasn’t the only one. And to be honest, the stress might be bringing it out more. For those of you that have a loved one who suffers from PTSD or for those of you that just want to understand it more, I’ve included a couple of websites at the bottom of this entry that helped me and my husband.
Thankfully, the person who cleaned my teeth was the nicest, sweetest, and most understanding person I could have asked to see that day. She was filling in (or “subbing” as we call it in my profession.) She sat and listened to me, asked me details about my accident, provided me with some comfort and affirmation that I am lucky to be alive, and took the time to explain to the doctor that I needed to have an exam as I “had some changes in my health since my last visit.” She gave me back my dignity. During the exam, I felt again that relief again. The sense of calm and care bestowed upon me as they did X-rays, visual inspections, and physical movements on my teeth. Their slow, methodical practice as they were making sure everything was as it should be was the same method and feeling I had when the EMTs arrived and checked me over. I was so glad to have someone taking care of me. Despite the anxiety and uncomfortable feeling of it all, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm.
The exam and x-rays were fine. Everything looked normal. I still might have inflammation in the nerve on the left side of my face (where the airbag hit), but none of their exams confirmed that.
The only moment of my PTSD revealing itself was at the end. She cleaned my teeth and the toothpaste that was rinsed felt again like the debris in my mouth. Again I felt the fear, the confusion of whether or not I was going to be okay. I could barely comprehend what the dentist was saying to me. I heard her, I just wasn’t able to respond to her requests of letting her rinse more. I shed a few tears, I told her what was going on and again she helped me. Thank God.
Now that I am sitting here writing this, I believe she was supposed to be there that day to help me through that. She was the one that was supposed to give me strength and dignity to move forward. I am so relieved.