Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

So, Here We Go Again

with 10 comments

I’ve been having a day.

Let me fill you in a little–Greg tends to be a jumpy kid.  He’s jumpy in situations with new people, and always with having to go to the doctor or the dentist.

When we’ve got good luck, whoever is seeing him just sort of joshes him along for a while, and he relaxes a bit, and everything goes as planned.

Every once in a while we get somebody who takes one look at him, decides he has a “disorder,” and then starts demanding that we put him on anti-anxiety medication immediately!  Because he’s suffering!

And once we get to that point, of course, he IS suffering.  He’s having a complete and total meltdown, in tears, unable to stop shaking, the whole bit. 

At which point the “medical professional” goes–there, proves it, what’s wrong with you that you aren’t getting him pills?

Well, welcome to Greg’s visit to the dentist today. 

It was bad enough to begin with, because Greg hadn’t been to the dentist in a while, and he also hadn’t been brushing his teeth in a while, and he was nervous about what he was going to hear, nervous about a new dentist, nervous about a lot of things.

I picked the dentist I picked because she’d worked on a very difficult problem in my mouth, and I figured if this was going to be as bad as I thought it might be, I could be sure that she’d do a very good job.  She’s a  very good–hell, a first rate–dentist.

But the visit was a disaster.  By the time Greg had been in the chair for five minutes, she’d reduced him to a quivering mass.  By the time he’d been there for ten, she’d reduced him to tears.

At that point, she ordered him out of the room and delivered a lecture to me on how I must see he was “suffering” and that if it was her child she’d have him on anti-anxiety meds, and his mouth was so bad he should never have been allowed to have his eye surgery.

That one floored me.  I mean–what?  Sorry, no.  He’d been checked out by three doctors for surgery.  And I know lots of people with mouths in much worse states than his who have had much more serious surgery than his. 

We all got home completely blown away, with Greg upset beyond words, but not the anxiety-upset he was exhibiting in her office. 

Instead, he was just furious, and he is now adamant–he will not only not go back to this dentist, he will not go back to any dentist, ever, period. 

I’ll talk him out of that one, but I really need to know.

Why do people behave this way?  Really?  If she’d listened to him instead of barging around shouting, she’d have found out some things she needed to know. 

Instead, she’s lost what is going to be a lot of work. 

Because I don’t ever want to see her again, either.

Written by janeh

May 23rd, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Responses to 'So, Here We Go Again'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'So, Here We Go Again'.

  1. Well, people don’t always listen to what they’re told or react appropriately. Sometimes it’s a matter of operating on autopilot, but of course in a professional consultation, one hopes that’s not what is happening.

    What I think happens a lot is that person A treats person B as person A would like to be treated, not realizing that person B has a very different personality – or unable to identify the differences from various speech and behavioural cues. The hearty types tell everyone stressed out about a dentist visit to buck up and act their age whether the target is responding well to that approach, or would do better with some calming and coaxing instead.


    23 May 11 at 5:56 pm

  2. Welcome to the world of the little tin god. Professions in which there is only one expert in a room–education, ministry and some types of medicine, for instance–sometimes attract people who begin by over-riding contrary opinions and end by disregarding interests and feelings. They’re the experts, you see, and have paper to prove it. They may be perfectly competent, but they can’t handle being disagreed with or otherwise thwarted. No people skills, and very much inclined to be the Great and Powerful Oz.

    I don’t think dentists are especially prone to it–at least the ones I know haven’t been–but there’s no working with such people once you’ve crossed them. Just be grateful you can go find another dentist. But ask around and try to find one who is known to work well with nervous youngsters. Each bad experience makes it trickier.


    23 May 11 at 6:24 pm

  3. As usual, I agree with Robert. It does sound as if the dentist is suffering from the God (or Goddess) complex.

    BTW, how old is Greg? I hope it doesn’t take an abscessed tooth to teach him to care for his teeth.


    23 May 11 at 6:48 pm

  4. Going back to yesterdday’s blog about Trollope

    Amazon Kindle has “The Way we live now”, “barchester Towers” and “The Warden” for free! I’ve downloaded all three.


    23 May 11 at 8:17 pm

  5. I find it is really most often Cheryl’s second paragraph.

    Except for surgeons. They have god complexes.



    23 May 11 at 9:29 pm

  6. Wow, sorry about the bad dental experience. I once had a dentist “fire” me as a patient because I hadn’t gone and had a tooth extracted the moment he told me to, and then DARED to return to him for a problem with the tooth. He did this in the office. In front of his staff and other patients. I complained to the Dental Board, but got no satisfaction.

    But now I have a kind and caring dentist who always takes the time to listen first, talk to me, and then do the procedures as painlessly as possible.

    I don’t think Greg needs medication, but it might not be a bad idea to take him to a (good) cognitive therapist to get him over his situational anxiety. (the therapist I have worked with identifies specific problems, works to get that resolved, and then says “you’re done!” it’s not Eternal Therapy)

    Certainly Greg can’t go through the rest of his life stressing over every self-maintenance activity he has to do. It’s going to lead to neglect of body, health, finances, home, everything, if allowed to persist or progress.

    There are GOOD people in every profession, the trick is to find them. Even your friends might not recognize a doctor or dentist who will work well with Greg, because they don’t have his issues and so don’t interact with their doctor’s in the same way. It might take several tries. And in the meantime, Greg’s teeth are deteriorating. :/ I’d hate to see him with dentures at 25. Tell him people with dentures have to see the dentist more often. ;)


    23 May 11 at 10:41 pm

  7. Dentists! Ugh!

    We’ve been very fortunate with our dentists over the years. The ones I encountered in the air force were, with only one exception, outstanding. Our long-standing (25+ years)family dentist is a very gentle Indian guy who, I’m sure, feels every twinge even more than we do.

    But our sons have been blessed with perfect teeth at least into their early 40s when one of them had a small cavity appear which was quickly remedied. For this I credit the fact that the water supplies in all significant Australian communities have been fluoridated, lo these many long years, despite a few early “anti” campaigns by the usual suspect fanatical ratbag fringe.

    We count our blessings every day.


    23 May 11 at 11:04 pm

  8. The anti-fluoridation forces have resurfaced in Canada – my own dentist has always been strongly in favour of fluoridation, being old enough to remember treating children with neglected teeth and no fluoridation.

    Based on my mother’s current problems, dentures are a LOT of trouble, and should be avoided if possible!

    When I was a child, there were two dentists in the nearest ‘big town’ who took it in turns to come to my home town to offer clinics, and my parents, being modern and conscientious about such things, saw to it that we had regular check-ups and treatments, something I certainly didn’t appreciate at the time. In fact, although the work on my (pre-fluoridation) mouth was later described as ‘good, solid old-fashioned dentistry’ by my present dentist, it was bad enough having it done that I became very anxious – not as bad as Greg, but bad enough – at the idea of going to dentists. The only thing that scared me more was neglecting my teeth long enough so that agonizing toothache forced me into the dentist’s chair.

    I also had bad sibling envy because my next-youngest sister always seemed to need little or nothing done to her teeth.

    And then the first year I was away from home a filling fell out leaving a sharp edge that cut into my tongue! I felt panicky and full of consternation! So I called my mother’s old friend who was my emergency contact and she suggested a dentist who turned out to be a fairly recent immigrant from Scotland; a very nice man who must have been younger than I thought at the time since he’s still my dentist, and I hope will never retire, although he must be getting near that age now. He’s so nice and calm and patient! They do exist, and with modern technology, they aren’t limited to ‘good old-fashioned dentistry’!


    24 May 11 at 6:12 am

  9. I had a thought. Greg must have gotten along with the eye doctors. They know his behavior and needs for care. Ask THEM for a referral to a dentist whose clinical style will work for Greg. If they’re not available, they have staff who also worked with Greg.


    24 May 11 at 12:47 pm

  10. I taught myself to do self-hypnosis as a kid to deal with dental anxiety and pain. I also have a prescription for Xanax now that I just take as needed. (Don’t use it for dentists anymore, but I may need it when my mom visits next week!) And asking for recommendations for the “dental phobic” will convey what you need, whether it is or is not strictly true.



    24 May 11 at 8:27 pm

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bad Behavior has blocked 385 access attempts in the last 7 days.