Things between my Mum and I became very strained after Dad left and we both relied more and more on my Grandad for support, in fact it was the one thing we had in common.
It was my Grandad that I turned to for help when I finally needed to see a Dentist again. I woke up one morning to find my upper gum was incredibly swollen and I felt dreadfully ill. My Mum was out at work at this time so I called my Grandad for help; he came round, looked at me and said I needed to get to the Dentist. Although the idea filled me with dread I knew he was right – something was very wrong.
When we got to the Dental Practice my Grandad went up to enquire about an emergency appointment. After a short wait one of the Dentists came out to speak to us, my Grandad asked if he could speak to him in private and he was taken into the exam room. I have no idea what it was my Grandad said to the Dentist but when he came out my Grandad said, “I’ve had a word with Dr X, he is going to take good care of you and I’m going to be right here if you need me.” The Dentist then invited me through to the exam room, I was shaking and crying as I went in, dreading what was going to happen next. The Dentist was absolutely lovely though, he told me that my Grandad had explained that I hadn’t been to the Dentist for some time and asked why that was. I tried to speak but was struggling because of the swelling on my gum, in the end all I managed to say was, “Scared.” He then asked if he could take a look in my mouth, I took a deep breath and said ok. The Dentist told me that my tooth had died and abscessed, it was one of the teeth that P had tried to remove years ago. He explained that I would need to have a hole drilled in the tooth to allow the abscess to drain and that I would need to come back to have it cleaned out thoroughly before having a crown fitted, he said it would take quite a few appointments to fix it but if I didn’t get it fixed properly the infection would spread and make me very ill. The Dentist wasn’t overly dramatic but it was clear that I would not get better unless I had treatment.
Looking back I can’t help but wonder if the Dentist had studied psychology or if he was just very perceptive as he asked me if I was ok to have my Grandad in the treatment room with me, the reason he gave was that he didn’t want my Grandad to worry about me. I was delighted by this as I desperately wanted him to come in and hold my hand but had been too terrified to ask if it was ok. My faith in the Dentist was well and truly cemented when we returned to reception to make a follow up appointment; the Dentist walked back to reception with us and told the receptionist to book me in again for further work over the course of the next few weeks, the receptionist then looked at me and said, “Hopefully you will keep these appointments as I see you’ve missed quite a few reminders from us over the years and see what a mess that has got you into.” Out of the corner of my eye I could see my Grandad was fuming and getting ready to say something but before he did the Dentist said, “Actually this has nothing to do with missing appointments, this is just one of those things that can unfortunately happen and it will be fixed up just fine, now please make the appointments I requested.” My Grandad shook hands with the Dentist and thanked him; he then told the receptionist that he would ensure I attended the appointments. Although I was grateful for what the Dentist had said I also wanted to die of embarrassment because I knew deep down the receptionist had a point. I regret that I never did thank the Dentist for his kind words, he has no idea what a difference that made to me that day.
I went on to have the rest of the treatment accompanied by my Grandad each time. It was good to have him with me as he could tell when I was getting stressed and needed a break which the Dentist handled really well as my Grandad would say, “Can you give her a break, I think she needs a break right now” I would say, “I’m fine, it’s fine” when I was anything but fine and the Dentist would usually make some excuse to factor in a break by saying, “Well actually I need to swap this over anyway so why don’t you sit up for a moment and have a rinse while I do this.”
After a while I started to attend on my own and had an extensive amount of work done to fix not only the damage caused by P & Co but also the years of neglect. Eventually what had previously been a terrifying experience became very much a mundane routine thing with every check up reminder being acted on; this all came to a grinding halt when I developed PTSD.