"Okay- let's do this," said my dentist, smiling at me as he put on his gloves and reached for the drill.
A few years ago, my knuckles would have already been white as I clenched the arm rests and squeezed my eyes shut.
This week? I was o.k. I wasn't thrilled, of course, but anxious isn't a word which comes to mind either. Why the change?
I like and trust my dentist. His positive reinforcement at cleanings has helped me improve my overall dental health. And we've been through things together: broken teeth, a root canal, a handful of fillings some of which were in awkward spots, and most recently an exam and x-ray because I was terrified I'd broken my jaw. He is kind, funny, and has a way of putting even the biggest dentist-phobe at ease. Most importantly, he does his job well. He's up to date on and uses the latest techniques and technology. I've never experienced measurable pain during a procedure. He works fast and efficiently to minimize my discomfort. And everything he's done so far has turned out just fine.
So yesterday, as the drill revved up to clear the way for a new crown due to a broken tooth from the aforementioned fall and not-broken jaw, I took a deep breath and assumed everything would turn out just fine.
I white knuckled it through countless dentist appointments for the first 35 years of my life. I dreaded them and often postponed them. I put off taking care of dental problems because I was so uncomfortable. And when I went for a cleaning I often left feeling even worse, having been chastised for the state of my gums or the cavity in my wisdom tooth. It turns out I just hadn't found the right dentist.
This week's experience reminded me of the equal importance of finding a good endocrinologist. We don't dread those appointments either. We like the doctor. We receive positive reinforcement for the work we do at home to maintain diabetes health. We've been through stuff together: new schools and nurses, first independent site changes, growth spurts, starting a dexcom, and now the beginnings of puberty. He is smart, kind, funny and very concerned for my daughter's health and overall well being. He's given us countless effective suggestions over the years. My daughter's diabetes management is, with his help, just fine.
I know there are people out there who do not realize what having a good endocrinologist feels like. They dread their appointments. They falsify data so they don't get yelled at. They leave feeling hopeless. They receive little or no useful advice from the doctor. They float through years of diabetes care assuming they're entirely at fault for high A1C's or endless rounds of lows. They feel like I did about going to the dentist, and they don't know that it could be better.
No, I don't put little stars and smiley faces around the calendar dates of my dental cleanings, nor do I do so for my daughter's endo appointments. But I don't dread them. I enjoy the people I see there, and I leave feeling improved for having gone. If that's ever not true, I'll know to go elsewhere.