I went to the dentist yesterday. Visits to the dentist are something I am very skilled at putting off, especially in Uganda where finding a good dentist involves committed research.
I have serious dentist fear. When I was a kid, I spent every three or four months in the chair (my mother was and still is, very conscientious about oral health.) It involved lots of fillings and nasty flouride treatment with mouth guards filled with vile-tasting bright blue gel. When I was old enough to decide whether or not to visit the dentist, I chose not. I have had long spells of truancy, the longest of which has been four years. But I am trying to turn over a new leaf: set an example to the children, something like that. Add to that the sneaking suspicion that all is not well dans ma bouche, and, having a terrible sweet tooth, the realisation that my chocolate chickens might be finally coming home to roost.
"Why don't you try Doctor T," said my boss. "He's great! It's so relaxing I often fall asleep in the chair!" I liked the idea of falling asleep in the chair, even if I didn't believe it for a second.
Fast-forward to a smart area of Kampala, a nice courtyard and shaded parking. "WELCOME!" said Dr T, a Ugandan man in his early forties. By this time I was already in the chair, sweating, both through nerves and the fact it was covered in plastic. He took digital photos of my teeth (very cool), some X rays, poked around...and said I needed a filling.
"Because it's only a superficial cavity, I will drill without anaesthetic ok? Any pain, just raise your hand." A split-second later, after I almost leapt off the chair in sudden agony, I got my injection. So much for falling asleep in the chair. "My, we have a jumpy one here!" quipped Dr T. For the record: I have had three children, none of which involved anaesthetic. Again it's the dentist thing: someone poking around in my mouth just gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. I really think I would rather give birth.
After I was filled, her reviewed my x rays, oo-ing and ah-ing like a pantomime dame. (I don't want a camp dentist: sorry. I want an earnest dentist, an academic type with glasses, who pauses before he gives a considered answer from the well of his experience and long medical training.) "You have another cavity right there!" he said, pointing at what I thought looked like a perfectly decent looking tooth. I have to go back in a month.
Then I went home, nursed my fat cheek and ate some mashed potato for dinner. I'm not sure I will make my follow-up appointment.