Thursday, May 31, 2012

Project: Don't Faint -- Report


I lined up a generous friend to drop me off and collect me from dental school, in case I didn't leave in driving condition.  In case.  The kind friend sat with me while I waited for my student to call me from the waiting room.  

My student came. 

We smiled nervously at eachother, the student and me.  We made small talk.  We momentarily turned our backs on the fatty elephant in the room (not my friend, idiomatically!); the elephant being the fact that the last time we'd parted one another's company, I'd been on a gurney.

The tutor for the floor gave me a knowing smile as we passed en route to ground zero, nodding over an open folder in my direction as he spoke with someone else.

Then we acknowledged fatty.

We agreed today would be different.

The tutor came over and agreed today would be different.  He told me to breathe.  To relax.  It would be fine.

I reclined in the chair.  My student asked me how I was feeling; was I ready?  I told her I would never been excited, but I was ready.

I put in headphones.  I listened to The Invention of Hugo Cabret (audiobook) and took deep breaths.  I wiggled my toes and fingers.  I went to my happy place.  I was still scared.  I was determined to be fine.  Deep breaths.

She spread topical anasthetic across my gums.  The taste was that taste; the taste that preceded the series of unfortunate events.  Her gloves smelled exactly as I'd remembered.  It all sounded the same.  I honed in on Hugo.  Hugo's footsteps at the station.  Hugo winding clocks.  Hugo...Hugo...  I became aware of the tink-tink of the syringe being lifted from the tray.


It wasn't pleasant...but it was done.

My student sat back and smiled, "You did great!"  I could tell she'd been nervous too, and said so.  I smiled and made some comment about how we'd both overcome a bad memory -- as I imagine it wasn't the best for her last time either.

She stood, explaining it was time to ready everything required for the actual procedure, and reviewed my notes behind me.

I closed my eyes.  I thought about Hugo.  There was still drilling to come -- and while this would not induce passing out, it's horrible in its own way...and I would rather be at the railway station.

I realised I had been laying still, alone, for quite some time without my student asking me to open my mouth.  I couldn't hear her flicking through papers, or tinkling instruments.  I opened my eyes.  I couldn't see my student.  Then came the unsettling déjà vu (she'd excused herself after the first injection last time, without explanation, to collect another syringe after the first proved unstable).

I told myself she must be collecting things she needed for the filling -- that the explanation she'd given applied to leaving the immediate vicinity.
The tutor approached.

Tutor: "How's it going here?"

Me: "A lot better than last time, for sure."

Tutor: "And what are you listening to?"

Me:  "Another book."

Tutor:  "You and your books."

[insert small talk about me and books here]  

Tutor:  "The truth is, [Yourstudent] has gone out for a minute because she's upset."

Me: Dumbfounded. Did I offend her?  Did calling her out on her nerves unsettle her?  Has *she* been unable to shake the negative associations of last time?

Tutor:  "You see...she's numbed the wrong side."  He motioned towards my left upper lip and winced sympathetically.

The man wasn't kidding.

Me: "Oh dear."

Tutor: "You have nothing to worry about with [Yourstudent], she does great work, but she gets herself very worked up about her relationship with her patients, and when she realised what had happened here, she excused herself.  I've asked her to take a moment and collect her emotions."

Me:  "Well, you can tell her we've broken the ice, I'm an expert now."

My tutor left.

My student returned.

She apologised.

And we repeated the earlier exercise (breathing, wiggling of digits etcetera) without incident.

3 hours later, I decided the drilling is much, much worse than the needle.  (Yup, that was the length of the appointment.)

But I finished the book.  /feeble smile

The poor girl.
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