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  • October 21st, 2008 | 1:00 AM
Tuesday Memory Challenge

I'm posting this way late or way early, depending on how you look at it because I'm about to start taking some mind-altering pain numbing medication to prepare for the dental surgery in the morning. Looking forward to about 3 hours in the chair so thank goodness for Ativan and Vicodin and Nitrous. Actually the Ativan is new for me - they usually give me Valium. You see I'm pretty much a basket case when it comes to going to the dentist. Just getting my teeth cleaned is enough for a panic attack.

So today's memory challenge is, you guessed it, the dentist.

The dentist of my childhood was not a child's dentist. His name was Dr. Fulgham and he was my mother's dentist. I don't know if I was his only child patient but sometimes it felt like it.

The trip to the dentist would go something like this: my mom would go in first. I'd sit in the waiting room looking at Highlights magazine and feeling my stomach turn itself inside out. My mom would come out wearing a big smile. A big, white, cavity-free smile. 

Then they would call my name.

I'd trudge down the hall and climb into the chair. The windows were those milky glass kind that you couldn't really see out of but I knew that Williams Elementary school was across the street. It wasn't my school but it was the one my mom went to when she was little. I'd sit there, listening to the swirl of the bowl and try to imagine my mom small enough to go to that school.

Then HE would come in. He'd have that headband thing on that was supposed to help him feel better. He never greeted me, just dove right into my mouth. He never explained what he was going to do, he just did it. And it always hurt.

He didn't believe in giving shots for the pain.

What he believed in were lectures. So every dental visit would end with a lecture about how my teeth were bad and how my mother's teeth were perfect. He would ask me why I couldn't have teeth more like my mom. Many, many years later a dentist told me I just had very thin enamel and it wasn't my fault but that dentist, for more years that I want to remember, made me feel like crap. I'm sure that most of my dental fears started in that chair.

After the dentist my mom would walk me next door to Baskin - Robbins and I would get a mint chocolate chip cone.

It was never enough.

Your turn. What are your memories of going to the dentist as a child?
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 11 comments — Leave comment )
October 21st, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
Mine didn't believe in shots for pain either. I don't remember much about him, but I was scared to death.
October 21st, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
Good luck tomorrow!
October 23rd, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
It is good that you don't remember. :-)
October 21st, 2008 10:37 am (UTC)
Oh, sweetie, I hope everything goes well today.
October 23rd, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
It was as well as it could be. Thanks.
October 21st, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
Susan, I share your pain...
except I'm positively phobic now. Between bad genes, late babies and a thousand year old mercury fillings instead of teeth, and many near-death (no exaggeration) experiences at the hands of dentists, my mouth is now officially a mess.

I won't burden you now, but I tell you, if you want to be cheered up later, email me, and I'll send you the lurid details. Until then, realize I'm pretty much a recluse now because of my broken smile.
October 23rd, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Re: Susan, I share your pain...
Oh hugs, hugs, and more hugs.

I'm so sorry that you have had to deal with such horrible issues.
October 21st, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry your dental experiences were so horrid. According to my friends, you have lots of company. Hope you do okay today.

I had a wonderful childhood dentist. He made a game out of the cleaning thing and the filling thing. It was an airplane coming into the hangar or something. I did get Novocaine so it didn't hurt much, and I never developed a fear of the dentist.

(Doctors are a very different story...)
October 23rd, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
Glad you had a good childhood experience with a dentist. I would hate to think too many people had crummy ones like mine.
October 21st, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
I'm going to skip the chair scenes--too creepy. The funny thing was, though, that my dentist was the father of a school friend--they lived sort of two blocks down from us, and we often walked home together to her house, hung out after school, and did sleepovers.

Two things: They had a counter drawer--an ENTIRE drawer--filled with boxes of sugarless gum (can't remember if it was Trident or Dentyne).

When I went to her house, we had ice cream for an after-school snack and chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast.

October 23rd, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
LOL on the sugarless gum.
( 11 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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