Odontophobia, The Fear of Dentistry

I am a sufferer.

Its ridiculous because I can’t actually pinpoint a particular dentist appointment in my life where I was hurt by the dentist. I was about 10 when I got my first filling, and I remember the assistant wiping my tears out of my ears but I don’t remember actual pain… and as I’ve gotten older its gotten worse.

This afternoon my knucklehead had an appointment ‘coz his wisdom teeth are really bugging him, and as I have a few small problems with my teeth – nothing painful yet – I decided to book an appointment too.
I called the dentist last week to arrange a Dormicum scrip because just phoning to make myself an appointment gives me butterflies, and they called me back saying the Dentist wanted to see me first to see what needed to be done before he’d write a scrip. It took several phone calls to explain that I couldn’t even sit in the chair without the meds, no matter what needed doing, so he wrote me a scrip.
The chemist didn’t have the 15mg tablet I was prescribed and gave me two 7,5mg tablets instead, which I didn’t think would be a problem and I took them 50 minutes before my appointment.
But once my knucklehead was finished – having a wisdom tooth pulled IN THE CHAIR no less – the dentist told me to take a seat, and I was still wide awake… and I burst into tears.

My poor knucklehead has never seen that because I tried not to be in the chair if he had an appointment – and he has no problem with the dentist! When he was younger I would still be checking our details in reception and he would have slipped off down the passage and be sitting in the chair chatting to the dentist when I got there.
And I only found out about Dormicum when he was already 17 years old! I couldn’t believe no dentist had ever mentioned it before.
Needless to say there’s no twice-a-year check up for me.

My boy was so sweet. He put his arm around me and encouraged me to get in the chair so the dentist could just have a look, and he came and sat next to me and held my hand, trying to reassure me as I literally bawled and tried to push my body backwards through the chair.

The dentist was really nice too, trying to reassure me that he wasn’t going to hurt me, but even as he just had a look with the little round mirror and took X-rays I cried, gripping the arm of the chair and my son’s hand till my arms were white to the elbow.
He tried to ask if it was the needle I was afraid of and I spluttered that it was all of it. Then he said there was one small cavity he could fix without giving me a shot as it was only on the surface, and asked if he could try. I could barely acknowledge anything and as he started the drill he barely touched it to my tooth before I was sobbing and he just couldn’t work like that.
Then my darling Glugster arrived and immediately saw that the meds hadn’t worked like they should, and he held the hand my son wasn’t holding.
We tried to wait a bit to see if the meds would kick in but nothing changed and after a few minutes I left, I’ll make a new appointment when the tooth starts hurting me. 😛

Normally, when the Dormicum works like it should, I fall asleep in reception 20 minutes before my appointment and have to be guided into the chair. Apparently I talk a lot of nonsense and the dentist has to repeatedly tell me to open my mouth, but I’m not there and I remember nothing afterwards. Obviously I have to be driven to the dentist and then home again, and I sleep for several hours afterwards, but it doesn’t take me days to recover from the physical tension I experience without the meds!

I apologised to the dentist, who I am sure has seen this kind of behaviour before, and my Glugster drove us home. As Murphy would have it I fell asleep 5 minutes before we got home and slept for a couple of hours, but I remember the appointment in its entirety.
The dentist suggested we hire a type of anesthetist next time rather than using Dormicum, but that will be pricey as we have to pay the specialist up front and claim it back from the medical aid, so I think I’ll probably go with the Dormicum again when I have to go back – I’ll just make sure I get the 15mg tablet.
Thankfully I’m not stiff and achey this time since the poor dentist didn’t actually do anything.

How are you with dentist visits? Do you need to be medicated first?

It Was Time.

I finally went and saw a shrink.
Its been many years since I was last on any kind of anti-depressant medication, and back then I was a single mom and I had a lot of crap on my plate.

I have normal, “every day” stress just like everyone else. My version of it includes:

  • parenting my adult, special needs son who refuses to acknowledge that he needs any kind of treatment
  • worrying about cash flow (AKA  petrol money and groceries)
  • trying to eat properly
  • procrastinating and making more work for myself
  • procrastinating about seeing to my own ADHD…
  • and…
  • and…

Then late last year there was some serious family kak that caused a rift in my family. My extremely close, any excuse to spend time together family. That rift stresses me beyond comprehension and it contributed to a knot of nervous tension that has not dissipated in months. It reached a point where I was crying all the time – for everything.
Except when I was with my Glugster. He is my happy place, my rock, and he keeps me sane. He cooked and cleaned when I was not able to muster the energy to get out of bed.

So I found a psychiatrist who was nearby (and contracted in) and went to see her. She was not at all happy and she wanted to admit me for a week! On her depression rating I scored a 9 out of 10! We chatted for a while- when I wasn’t bawling- and I like her.
She sent me for blood tests to make sure everything else was as it should be (my hopelessly under-active thyroid is a problem), and she wants me to see a psychologist to talk about things she thinks I need to deal with – like the recent family drama. She also thinks I have not properly dealt with losing Nathan…

She prescribed a month of Nuzak since its something I used before – that worked – but I wanted something that didn’t affect mine and my Glugster’s love life in any way, and many ADs do.

So just after 7am this morning, I swallowed my first Wellbutrin. Apprehensively I must add. I’m sitting now waiting for side effects… She also gave me Xanor to take “if I need it” because stopping the Nuzak may make me feel anxious…

I’m a little nervous but I don’t know if its the lack of Nuzak or the new meds…

Dormicum Rocks!

I had another dentist adventure recently, and thank goodness I still had a couple of Dormicum tablets left over from my last prescription!

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough you may know how deathly afraid of the dentist I am, and after YEARS of stress and tears a specialist mentioned Dormicum! What a revelation! Yes, its extra schlep because someone has to drive me there and take me home, but I don’t spend three days recovering from muscle spasms and a headache anymore!

About a week ago I realised I had a slight toothache in my bottom right jaw, that was infinitely worse if I tried to chew there! I called around to find a dentist that is contracted in- where I don’t have to fork out a fortune in cash first- and thankfully found one right here in my suburb! Fabulous! I arranged to get an early appointment so that my Glugster wouldn’t have to take too much time off work in order to drive me there and take me home again. And unlike before, the day of my appointment did not dawn with me already in a state of terror!

I made sure I had breakfast, and an hour before my appointment I swallowed my Dormicum tablet. Its a small tablet, and because its used as a pre-anaesthetic and can be used as a “date rape drug” if not properly dispensed, its bright blue! We arrived at the dentist and I was already starting to feel a little woozy as I helped my Glugs fill in the forms. I fell asleep in the waiting room so the last thing I remember clearly is the forms… The drug makes you compliant but forgetful, which is why its so dangerous! I follow instructions and can respond to the dentist’s questions when in the chair, and I have a vague memory of getting into the dentist’s chair, but I didn’t even know the dentist was a woman until my hubby informed me later! The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed at home at around 1pm, which fits with the Dormicum knocking me out for about 5 hours.

Apparently I am rather entertaining when I am doped to the gills, but my hubby has never seen me like that ‘coz my sister drove me the last time. My Glugs told me how, when I sat up in the dentist chair after my appointment I remarked on how the wall opposite me was painted pink. “Yes,” says the dentist, “it used to be green.” “Was it green when I got here?” I asked.


Unfortunately the dentist declared a root canal necessary and referred me to a contracted out specialist, the same one I saw in the past, but until I have the cash I can’t go and see him. It is immensely frustrating because with or without the cash, I can’t leave the tooth until I am in agony… I am going to see if I can find someone contracted in who can do the procedure but I am not holding my breath.

And don’t get me started on the rip-off that is medical aids and medical expenses. Ugh.

New Articles On ADHD…

If you are a parent to an ADHDer like I am, then I’m sure that by now many of you will have heard of, or read the opinion piece (and I stress that it is his opinion) published in the New York Times last Sunday, by L. Alan Sroufe titled Ritalin Gone Wrong.

You may even have had it sent to you by friends and/ or family who are trying to help by “proving” that medicating ADHDers is the wrong thing to do because the New York Times said so. I can all but guarantee that something along these lines will be featured in the YOU magazine some time soon- it is South Africa’s favourite medical journal after all.

funny pictures - MEDS

Hot on the article’s heels was a piece by Karin J Dell’Antonia titled If Ritalin Has ‘Gone Wrong,’ What’s the Right Way to Cope?, another piece titled Who caused the ADHD? You did, Mom! by Joyce Slaton, Dr. Ned Hallowell’s Response to NY Times Piece “Ritalin Gone Wrong.” (I personally have great respect for Dr Ned Hallowell) and Why “Ritalin Gone Wrong” Is Wrong by Dr. Harold Koplewicz.

funny pictures - Your meds.

Yes- he makes some valid points, and yes- I know medication is not the whole or the only answer for ADHDers… But Sroufe’s piece made me very heart sore because it is exactly what the nay-sayers are looking for. Its exactly the kind of thing that will get thrown in the faces of parents who are trying to share their treatment strategies with friends and family. What it boils down to is that he says medication hasn’t been studied enough and he blames ADHD on bad parenting. WTH!?! I KNOW I am not a bad parent! What makes me even more sad is that the exceptionally well written rebuttal pieces I have cited above will not get nearly as much attention!

Feel free to forward them to people who think Sroufe’s opinion is the be all and end all.


What happens of course is that people reading the opinion of someone who is against medication for ADHD will not know about the angst and stress that us ADHDer parents have gone through in trying EVERYTHING before we decide to medicate our children! They will not take into account that we do not make this decision lightly and that we spend an eternity second guessing ourselves and wondering if we made the right decision.




I implore you, as parents who are doing everything they possibly can to help their child cope at school, to remember that you are doing everything you can and everything you believe is right to try and help your child. Read all the articles so that you know what is going on. Use them to strengthen your decisions- for or against medication- and continue doing the best you can.

Why Consider Meds!?

All too often in the years since my son was diagnosed, I have wondered if medicating him is the right thing to do, even when I saw the good results with my own eyes! Second guessing ourselves seems to be something that parents to ADHDers are cursed to do forever.
I get asked over and over again- by parents of ADHDers, by people who don’t have children yet, even during casual conversation- whether medicating a child diagnosed with ADHD is the answer, or the right thing to do.
I cannot tell you how many times I have wished my son could tell me what the difference is for him, how he feels on meds and how he feels off meds. I have wished over and over again that I could read his mind, especially since he’s not a big talker.
Reading blogs written by adults with ADHD gives me some insight into the battles my son has faced and will still go through, and I get a little glimpse into what he may be thinking and feeling.
I’m not a doctor. I’m not a shrink or a counsellor. I’m not a professional anything. And I often have a hard time answering that question “Why medicate?” Its not the WHOLE answer for anyone, and for some children its not even a part of the answer. But for a lot of children- and adults- its a very real part of a very real solution.
In this blog post by Zoë Kessler (who is fast becoming one of my favourite adult ADHDer bloggers), 42 year old “Ken” sent an email to Zoë after he was newly diagnosed and started his treatment in which he said: “Started Concerta yesterday. Well. Normal people have it f*cking easy don’t they? Amazing.” And then Zoë mentioned how often she thought, “They should have drowned me at birth.
It just broke my heart!
I found myself instantly praying that my son had never thought that about himself! I know my son battled at school, and still battles in social situations and the like, but seeing it in words like that makes me wish I had done more to help my son! Can you imagine a child- one who does not battle with depression- thinking that they would be better off dead!?! Children with ADHD know there’s something different about them, but the nature of the society we live in means they are all too often labelled as trouble makers, failures or naughty from a very early age, and if you tell someone the same thing often enough they come to believe it.
If you are a parent- or you are simply someone who cares- and you wonder whether medication is the right thing to make a part of your ADHDers treatment, I implore you to put aside your concerns about being ridiculed and judged, and imagine the repercussions of not considering every option when it comes to treating your child’s disorder. When medication is properly prescribed and monitored it can be a hugely successful and important part of treating ADHD in adults and children.
Be sure to read part 2 and the epilogue
…come play on my roller coaster…