Friday 20 April 2018

Horror of dentist visit made easier by an angel in white


THERE'S NOTHING worse than a sore tooth. Nothing more all-consuming than the searing firework of pain that shoots into your gum at intervals that seem to coincide with the rhythm of your thumping pulse. You can't think straight, can't talk, can't hold anything else in your mind except steeling yourself for the next shock of pain.

It was in this state I found myself in last Friday morning. The night before, everything had been fine. The offending gnasher had cracked about a year ago and after getting over the pleasant surprise there was no pain, I left it as it was. Not a hint of the Passion of Christ-type assault that was about to hit me.

But on Thursday night, being the greedy goose that I am, I decided to 'ate' a crisp sandwich while reading my latest bedtime companion, the new biography of Sean Lemass. A couple of bites in and I stopped cold. I had felt the sharp offending edge of a Walker's cheese and onion breech the vulnerable tooth's defences and hit the nerve.

Panicked and knowing full well the range of pain that was about to engulf me, I took some painkillers. After an hour, I felt I had got off lightly and managed a night's sleep. But it was the second cup of coffee on Friday morning that reawakened the torturous beast that lurked in my gum and the pain was back with a vengeance.

Taking pity on me for once, the husband said I had to get to a dentist and fast. So he called up the Dublin Street Dental Clinic because he had been before and said they were very nice.

Luckily, they took pity on us and gave me an appointment for 45 minutes hence. I went down in the car and stood outside in the driving rain, wondering whether it was absolutely necessary to go in, for, after all, the pain was easing and it wasn't too bad, really.

I hate dentists. I only go when the teeth are hanging out of my head and extractions are my thing, not fillings. What's the point in getting preventative medicine when you can just get it cured by having the bloody thing taken out in the end anyway?

I was 18 when I went to the dentist for the first time. I was that terrified that he had to send me away with a prescription for Vallium to take before I came back again.

Over the past few years, I had a couple of teeth out and each time I cried, in fear, not in pain. One dentist told me to pull myself together. And in fairness, in the intervening years I've had two Caesarean sections so you'd think I'd been through worse. Give me a C section any day over a dentist's chair.

That was, until, to my surprise and delight, the Dublin Street clinic's dentist was Naoishe Gorham, a girl I went to school with. She was so welcoming, so friendly, so kind, understanding and funny, that while I couldn't say I enjoyed it, it was the best dental experience of my life. A white-uniformed angel from the past.

Naoishe was surprised that I was so scared and cowardly in a dentist's chair. She said: ' You were the one who was always fighting for something at school, always standing up. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you're a chicken'. Don't worry Naoishe, I will.