Posted in Agoraphobia, Health Issues, Hearing Loss

Deaf Person Waiting

I’ve always had a problem with waiting rooms. For years I felt almost embarrassed to say “I’m not worried about the dentist… it’s the waiting room that gets me!” I can’t hear the receptionist’s questions or my name being called… I don’t even like the fact that the receptionist is in or so near to the waiting room, so that everybody else hears our loud conversation better than I do… and if I have to wait a long time, I worry that my name has already been called and I missed it. Just the sort of thing that sends my agoraphobia into overdrive…

There seems to be a vague assumption that the onus is on the staff to make sure I know when I’m called, and that it will all be sorted out by the end of the day… but this underestimates the embarrassment it can can cause, and how worried I get about it beforehand. That sort of anxiety will make me good for nothing during the actual consultation, and it could stop me seeking treatment.

My feeling is that it’s all so unnecessary, especially where audiology clinics are concerned. I’ve only once been in a waiting room that used some kind of visual prompt that it’s your turn… and that belonged to our old family GP back in Edinburgh, 25 years ago! (Why do things go backwards instead of forwards?)

I think there should be one good overall system in use for everybody, as otherwise you do get slip-ups where the nurse doesn’t realize the person in the waiting room is deaf, and goes out to call for that person anyway. Instructing staff “if you see from the notes that she’s deaf, do this other thing” is not enough.

If I had confidence that I’d be able to speak confidentially to the receptionist, and that I would know when it’s my turn to be seen, and that the staff won’t make a mistake and shout out my name anyway, I would be less anxious about visiting any GP, dentist or audiologist. (Or in fact any unit that uses waiting areas, whether medical or not!)

I knew it couldn’t just be me who felt that way. When I looked on the internet years ago, I found nothing of particular interest, but there seems to be a lot on the subject now. The following are a small selection of the links I found:

Dealing with Hearing Impaired Patients
Waiting rooms – the scourge of the hard of hearing
YOUTUBE VIDEO: Doctors Waiting Rooms
UK hospitals and GP surgeries are failing the deaf and hard of hearing

Sign Health: Why do you keep missing me? … a PDF you might want to Google for… I didn’t link to it as there’s a QuickLink available (long one!) Excerpt: “There are countless anecdotes about deaf people seeing their doctor, invariably receiving a poor service. But until now there have been no figures to support the arguments. This lack of data makes it difficult for deaf people to convince health providers that changes need to be made.” This is worth reading as it goes into a bit more detail… it talks about things that make me think “oh yes… I remember thinking that!”

Posted in Health Issues

Bearfang Plays Up

Took a root-canalled tooth (Bearfang) to the dentist today… it’s OK now, but it kept getting sore when I had a heavy cold. I pointed that out to the dentist, and added it doesn’t actually hurt at the moment, and never hurts it to bite down on. She said there might be a root that needs a bit of work, and I’m probably right that it flares up when I have a viral infection, but there were signs I’d been grinding the tooth quite hard, so she’s filed it off! We’re leaving it now to see what happens next…

She called Mum in to talk about it, and she went on for about five minutes, waving her arms. I didn’t really know what she was saying, so later in a cafe I said “she talked an awful lot, considering that it all boiled down to ‘she grinds her teeth,'” and Mum chuckled and said “yes… funny girl.” But later I prodded for more detail, and she told me all the stuff about the viral infections probably having an impact.

Teeth are weird.

Posted in Health Issues


Well… I’ve sleepily accepted everything that dentist has thrown at me over the years… fillings, tooth removal, a root canal, X-rays, scraping, drilling, polishing, extortionate fees… but today she did something that nearly caused me to run screaming from the chair.

She flossed my teeth.

I was hoping to find something online that indicates flossing is bad for you, but I can’t find anything. It appears to be a worldwide religion (which struck me as strange, as most issues have ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’). In amongst all the usual sensible advice,  I’ve read some odder claims (perhaps it’s the ministry of misinformation at work again); for example, that the real purpose of flossing is to harden one’s gums against disease; and that they haven’t proven that flossing is so necessary, because it would be unethical to ask one group to not floss. (I would like to believe that, but that’s taking me too far into the twilight zone). Also the claim that even if flossing hurts our gums, we must ignore it and press on…

I don’t know. All I know is that if dentist does it again, I’ll pull the roof down.

Posted in Agoraphobia, Health Issues

A Dental Numpty

Teeth are funny things, and I don’t understand them at all!

About a month ago I blogged that I had tooth pain and had made an appointment at the dentist’s, but she was flying off to Peru to do voluntary work there, and I would have to wait.

The gum round a neighbouring tooth (which should have been healthy) was red, which was worrying, and there was inflammation in that area… but I brought it down myself with an array of home options: TCP dabbed on with tissue, Oraldene anti-bacterial mouthwash, a clove of raw garlic!

Bearing in mind that others with sore teeth might be reading this… the garlic burned the inside of my cheek but I liked the taste (ahem). It made me rabid to do more home cooking. TCP shouldn’t be swallowed, so one has to be careful with that option. Same with the mouthwash.

I ran a small fever, and then the inflammation came down, after which the fever quietly dissipated… so I have an unsettling feeling (while I’m patting myself on the back for my successful treatment of the tooth) that my body’s own infection-fighting system had a lot more to do with it.

After that I had no more trouble from the upper tooth, but a little while ago I got some pain from a lower tooth, which was even worse. The TCP didn’t seem to hit the spot, wherever that was, and the Oraldene would calm it down for about five minutes, and then it would start niggling again. There were tears in my eyes, so I ended up hitting it with everything I had…. brushed my teeth with a brand new toothbrush and Sensodyne toothpaste, Oraldene medicated mouthwash, cheapo paracetamol tablet (1p per caplet!)…. and another clove of garlic!

I shifted that garlic around this time so that it wouldn’t burn my mouth, but now I had a lightly burned throat! So I wasn’t in a hurry to take another.

But the tooth pain was gone. And it didn’t come back.

Finally got to the dentist yesterday, and told her I had two nagging teeth; one upper and the other lower. But I couldn’t quite remember which was the lower tooth with the problem as it felt so normal!

She told me my teeth were in wonderful shape for their age, and all she could recommend to do was remove an extra tooth I had, which was potential for future trouble (it wasn’t one of the offending teeth, but next door).

I had been worried about my agoraphobia (hatred of being trapped somewhere where other people are, which includes queues, waiting rooms and the chairs of hairdressers and dentists!) But I was very calm yesterday, which made me wonder why my heart was racing along. We were waiting for the local anaesthetic to take hold. I said to myself “it’s probably the anaesthetic. It’s just the anaesthetic. It’s the anaesthetic!” and took deep, slow breaths… and my heart actually slowed a little… then I lost my grasp of it, and it was off again.

I was wobbly after, but still calm. Eerie.

I sat up and reached for the mouthwash when the dentist finished, but there was none there. The assistant gave me a typed slip with post operation type instructions… it said not to wash out one’s mouth if one could avoid it. So presumably the mouthwash is only for people having their teeth cleaned.

Mum explained it later… that a ‘plug’ has to form in the gap, and if you wash it away so that there is no plug, you will get ‘dry socket’, which is very painful. She had it once because nobody warned her not to wash out her mouth. She also confirmed that the accelerated heart rate was due to the anaesthetic, or to something that was in with it (epinephrine).

When I got home I fell asleep, and then woke up with a nagging headache. Which explains why I wasn’t blogging yesterday.

So… I had a tooth removed which wasn’t one of the ones I was complaining about. (Scratches head). And I have a shamed feeling that the things I learned (about epinephrine and dry socket) have been known to most people since school age. But then they don’t have to switch off their hearing aids in the dentists’ chair (hearing aids squeal when you lie down or open your mouth wide. When I was younger I was actually put off laughing or grinning because it seemed that every time I laughed, the hearing aids squealed, and then I wanted to cry instead. Such a dampener).

To end on a more positive note, I was pleased that the dentist said my teeth were in such great shape. (She put it in writing!) My father was told by a dentist that he had exceptionally strong teeth… I’ve obviously inherited them. Perhaps Scottish islanders (my forebears) needed good teeth if the best dentists happened to be on the mainland. 😀

It makes sense in a weird way… if you had persistent trouble with your teeth, you probably lived near a good dentist, and didn’t hide yourself away on a storm-besieged island. Unless you had no choice.

Posted in Health Issues, Hearing Loss

Dear Tooth Fairy

In the dentist’s surgery yesterday, she tugged at my molar then hurriedly clapped a wad of cotton against it, tipping my head back. They called Mum in.

I thought, “what’s wrong? Am I bleeding to death? I don’t feel as though I am.”

Slowly I realized that, though the procedure had only taken about 7 seconds, my broken tooth had been removed. After all that deliberate calming of my breathing, getting ready for another ten minutes of trapped misery, it was done with already.

I almost felt cheated.

They only called Mum because I couldn’t hear the dentist and her nurse speaking to me. I have to turn my hearing aids off when I lie down/yawn/grin/don a hat, otherwise I get a lot of nasty squealing feedback. I hate the tendency of hearing aids to do that, and you feel betrayed by them when you don’t hear the feedback but other people do. From those who lack personal experience, you get the query, “what’s that noise?”
Everybody else: “What noise?”
From someone who knows: “Oh, it’s Diddums’ hearing aids. It’s just feedback.”
Embarrassed silence.

I hate the little blighters. When I was younger I wanted to crush them out of existence. The only thing that held me back was knowing all the hassle I would have to go through to get them replaced. I’m convinced that my constant anxiety that they would squeal has made me stiff and cautious. A child’s whine in a shop is enough to make me turn the aids right off: I can’t always tell the difference. Tinkling background piano music on the TV has a similar irritating effect on me. But I digress…

It was amazing how quickly that tooth was removed. I would have done it sooner if I’d known. I was asked if I wanted to keep it, but waved it away… I’ve never had the impulse to keep ex-body parts. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

(Just this moment spat out a chunk of enamel).

I’m too old for tooth fairies, though I’m quite sure they exist…

Posted in Dreams and Nightmares

Aww Poor Toothy

Yesterday I had to visit the dentist. Reluctantly. That’s the only way I visit dentists. I don’t fear them; with strong choppers like mine I’ve never had reason to – it’s receptionists who trouble me! But that’s another story.

I broke a tooth pretty badly. In my mind I was saying goodbye to it – stroking it with my tongue and thinking “this time tomorrow you will be gone.”

In bed I dreamed I gave it a name – BearFang. I printed out a picture of a grizzly’s face to symbolize it – all glaring eyes and flashing white teeth. It was a tribute to a much loved and cherished molar, soon to be R.I.P.

Then I dreamed I went to have it dealt with, and my dentist was Neil Morrissey from Men Behaving Badly. In my dream he was an excellent and cheerful dentist and I felt completely safe in his chair, but then we ran into problems. I was absolutely convinced he was going to remove the tooth but he turned round and said it didn’t need to be taken out – he would do some surgery to repair it. He injected anaesthetic into my jaw twice and we waited for the whole side of my face to go numb, but it only went a little bit numb, then thawed out again. “It’s not working!” I exclaimed in dismay, and Neil frowned and said “you better go home – we can’t do anything about your tooth today.”

Next day came the actual visit to my real dentist. She had a thoughtful look at BearFang’s shattered frame then said: “as I see it, you have two options. One: you can have it removed, which I don’t recommend. Two: you can have root canal therapy, which I can’t do today.”

So. BearFang is still with me, and nothing’s been done with it yet, except to give it a temporary cover. I really thought it was going to be removed, so in retrospect I’m quite surprised at how close my dream came to the truth. Well, not the Neil Morrissey part… but I can live with that!