My Body is Mine

There is a fundamental disconnect between some health care workers, and my concept of my own personal space. I have a few simple rules when it comes to health care workers, and it has nothing to do with dislike of the person in particular. It has to do with my space, my comfort, and my expectations to be treated according to my human rights.

1. No person, medical professional or not, is allowed to touch me without my permission, unless I am about to do harm to someone. The clear exception written into this is that if I go bonkers and start beating on orderlies, I welcome a nice pin-down and a shot of Haldol.

2. If you are going to touch me, medical professional or not, you are responsible for what you do. IE, if you touch me and leave a bruise, it is your fault, and I will hold you accountable.

3. If at any point I say no, act in clear distress, or attempt to escape you, all forms of touch should immediately stop. If you feel it is imperitive that you continue touching me for my own well being, you may THEN explain to me why and attempt to get my consent.

Why, you ask, am I enumerating these rules? Well, you remember here, where I said that I had dental problems and was terribly afraid of dentists? Funny I should mention, because Saturday night I developed a throbbing, painful, crippling toothache. I was in so much pain that I was losing my grip. Though I don’t write this openly on my “friends blog”, I was seriously contemplating suicide, because I was in such excruciating pain and it seemed there was no way out. I had an infection in my tooth that could spread to my brain, and there was no way for me to pay for it. I have no dental insurance and dentists are fucking sharks who want payment right up front or they’ll cheerfully let you sit in pain. The only good thing that kept me sane through Sunday was that the dentist was willing to at least call me in a prescription for a medication I could take (I’m intolerant to narcotics), and I was cheerfully on cloud nine for Sunday night.

Just when it seemed I was totally screwed and on my own, a dear friend took me under their wing and slapped down their debit card, saying I could pay them back over time. So I took my Ativan, tried to calm myself as much as I could, and headed in to the dentist’s office. Now, I hate the dentist’s office. I hate it so very much. I hate the judgmental dental hygeinists, I hate the smell, and I hate being pinned on my back helpless while people shove their hands in my mouth. It reminds me of being eleven and pinned down while someone shoved their dick in my mouth.

Thing is, I don’t like the dentist I’ve seen there the last few times. Butterfly talked here about what it is to have a “sense” of people, and I responded to her post with understanding, because I’ve always had a good sense of people. I know when someone is just no fucking good, and this guy is no fucking good. It’s not like it’s hard to read that, either. I’ve never met anyone who did like the guy, because he’s abrupt, callous, cold, and ignores the patient, talking only to the assistant. So this really isn’t my great “people” sixth sense – he doesn’t even require it. All you need to know this guy is a dick is good old fashioned common sense.

So they start looking me over and shooting my face full of Novocaine. That’s fine. I’m used to that. But up until my last visit, I didn’t have Ativan to use to calm me down while I was in the chair. This time, I noticed that my hands were shaking. That was strange, because as doped as I was on anti-anxiety meds, I shouldn’t have had a nervous bone in my body. So I asked the hygienist, who for once did not piss me off, if there was something in the Novocaine that would make me jumpy. Did you know that there’s Epinephrine in Novocaine?

Let me just make the irony of this a little more clear. They’re pumping every person who sits in their chair full of adrenalin. Yet, I hear all the time about how dentists hate that everyone is freaking out in their chairs and how difficult it is to have such a stressful job where everyone hates you. Is the entire profession of dentistry totally fucking retarded? Gee, I think I’ll jack someone up on drugs that make them tense and nervous and then expect them to be calm! Yeah! That’s it!

Anyway, they start in on my molar, and as he’s pressing down on my lower jaw with the side of his hand to get at my tooth, my chin slides way down and to the right. I felt a popping feeling, and protested, but he said, “Sometimes your jaw just pops out, it’s okay.” Without stopping. Okay. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. I got through the whole procedure, though toward the end, I was holding up my bottom jaw with tears streaming out of my eyes trying to reduce some of the pain by supporting it.

He got all the way to the end of the procedure without really thinking about my dislocated jaw and then removed all the hardware when he was finished. Scared and trembling, I rushed to close my mouth, and found abruptly that I couldn’t. My jaw was totally dislocated, popped clearly open. Ever seen one of those horror movies where some dark haired woman has an unnaturally large mouth and locusts or something come flying out of it? Yeah, it looked like that.

Now, feel free to tell me if I’m overreacting or something, but generally when a part of my body is grotesquely deformed, I freak the fuck out. I started to hyperventilate a little and cry, half-telling them what was wrong, which they could see well enough once they looked at me and stopped putting instruments away.

If you were a dentist, which of the following would think was the right thing to do?

A. Use a soothing tone of voice and gently reassure the patient that this can be fixed and that they should lie back and try to calm down so their muscles relax a little.

B. Push down the foot petal on the chair dropping the patient’s head as low as it can go, and jam both thumbs into their mouth abruptly without a word.

I don’t have to tell you which one he did. You already know. You know because I started this entry telling you what a dick he is, and now you believe me. So there I am, lying there, upset because my jaw is grossly distended, and then he drops my head down and shoves both his thumbs into my mouth, which makes me gag and hurts like hell.

You know, I’m really trying to come up with a way that the asshole dentist could have been worse at handling me, but short of actually sexually assaulting me, I can’t see how. He totally abused my boundaries, treated me like an object, assumed authority over my well being without a word, and violated my physical space without even giving me a chance to acquiesce.

I am still trying to decide what to do. Part of me wants to have him censured, but to do so would drag all sorts of things to light, and given my shitty financial situation, it might make it look like I was after his money. Which I could give a shit less about. I’d just like him to take a mark on his record that says that he can’t be trusted to have good bedside manner, to warn parents not to take their kids to him.

Today I had to go back to have a last x-ray and get my bite looked at to make sure everything was all right. I specified that I would not see that dentist again, and then when I was leaving I specified that I’d like to see one of the other dentists in the future. The woman behind the desk was remarkably unsympathetic and basically told me I’d have to take what I could get. Well, in that case, I’ll take my business elsewhere, even if I have to drive to another city.

There is a chance, a slim chance, that one of the people reading this blog has a job in the health care field. I beg you, consider carefully how you treat the people you tend. You wield power. Don’t abuse it.

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~ by oniongirl13 on July 8, 2009.

5 Responses to “My Body is Mine”

  1. What a stupid, insensitive f-ing jerk your dentist is! Oniongirl I’m so sorry.

    Okay, the following has a little bit of advice sprinkled in. This is meant more in the nature of friendly solidarity concern and validation since what you’ve gone through lately would knock me out, than in any way to disrespect you or imply you need advice.

    Good for you for firing this dental firm, they sound like idiots at best. Maybe you can find a woman dentist, or at least someone with a better vibe. Sometimes the universities have student clinics, which are in a way good, since they’re usually a lot cheaper, and are on their best behaviour since they’re being graded. What about having someone come and keep you company in your next dental visit? I would think that saying that the last dentist freaked you out by dislocating your jaw, is a ‘regular person’ excuse for needing to have someone there. You’re a customer after all.

    I get why you might not want to get into it with jerk dentist. If you want to do something to respond to his assholeness, I’m a big fan of the arms-length written complaint letter for this type of thing. At least then you can put something on record with the governing body of dentists in your state, or the better business bureau. Some cities also have a women’s health organization that keeps a list of health care provider complaints. However, since you’re depressed, have a sore tooth and had a really stressful experience, I think you don’t lose warrior points if you don’t put the energy into him right now and care of yourself instead.

    I’m really sorry you’ve been suicidal. This can’t have been good for your state of mind. You are a valued and valuable person and I hope you stay with us. The world needs you and your powerful warrior voice, and we’ve lost too many survivors already.

    Clove oil (or even the spice in a pinch) is good for killing pain in the mouth from toothaches – you just put it on where it’s sore and it numbs it out. You can get it at health food stores and it’s not very expensive. Rinsing your mouth with peroxide (the kind used for first aid wound care) is also good for keeping your mouth from getting infected and helping it disinfect. It tastes a bit funny, but won’t hurt you, probably not best to swallow it though, since it might upset your tummy. Rinsing with a strong salt water solution as frequently as you want will also help, and if you can handle holding some in your mouth for awhile, might help draw out the infection. Eating a bunch of garlic might also help, as it’s a natural antibiotic too.

    Blessings to you,
    SDW

  2. Seriously, what the fuck is the matter with him?? What a disgusting pig! He should not be in any sort of helping profession.

    You know, I was reading about Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and it looks like he committed suicide because of the terrible pain he was in. He had some sort of stomach ailment that no one properly diagnosed or treated for years, and he said he just couldn’t take the pain. Every person on Earth who has terrible pain with no end in sight considers suicide. Thank goodness, you realized that pain has an ending, and you chose life. Should this ever happen again, please please please call 1-800-suicide (1-800-784-2433). That suicide hotline was started by a husband who lost his beloved wife to suicide. He took his pain and created something beautiful with it, the way I hope our little network of survivors is going to do as well.

    I just want to address this one thing that you said: “I am still trying to decide what to do. Part of me wants to have him censured, but to do so would drag all sorts of things to light, and given my shitty financial situation, it might make it look like I was after his money.”

    We are survivors of sexual abuse. Whenever shitty things happen to us as adults, we get scared and afraid that people aren’t going to believe us. It is very scary going up against a medical professional, because of the perceived power differential. But the truth is, the story you just told us on this blog is so heinous that any medical board would surely censure this asshole. You are worthy of good medical care, not the horrible crap that you have endured that impedes your healing process.

    Now, having said that, I am not sure of the courage I would have either. Any choice you make is the right one, sweet oniongirl.

    May your healing be swift and painless.
    – Butterfly

  3. Dear Oniongirl,

    Of course I am on your side. I’m sorry that this horrible man was in your life. He is abusive. It is not normal for a jaw to dislocate, no, he is lying and if it is normal for jaws to dislocate that he takes care of, then he is an even bigger abuser than it looks like. Which is probably true.

    How is your jaw now? Did you need to go to the hospital? I’m so sorry dear.

    I did not know that about novocaine. It is outrageous that they should be pumping us full of a drug that is going to make us anxiety-ridden and phobic. It’s like let’s give all our clients panic attacks. No wonder. So sorry this happened to you.

    I’ve seen some awful dentists and left. Good for you for leaving and not going back. You absolutely have a right to ask for a certain doctor or not. That is totally within your rights and no clinic can deny you that. They suck.

    I think that going for his money is one way to affect someone and to effect positive change. You are abused and your body deserves to be respected, not abused.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

    • My dentist told me they put adrenaline in the freezing drugs/novacaine because it does something to the blood vessels (constricts them I think) forcing the anaesthetic in deeper faster. I told her because I get anxious that I didn’t want any adrenaline and she did have freezing without it, it just took longer to kick in, and because they ended up using more, longer to un-freeze afterward, which was a drag. However, I definitely noticed the difference without the adrenaline. It’s too bad they can’t use acupuncture or something to block the pain instead.

      Oniongirl, how are you doing now? Lots of healing thoughts to you.

      SDW

      • I’m recovering well; thank you. I wish I had time to respond to all of these comments, and I will do my best to when I return. In the meantime, blessed be and I hope you are all well. I’m doing all right, the bruises are fading in body and soul, and I am preparing to embark on a journey of faith.

        Take care of each other, and I’ll be back soon to catch up with you all.

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