For twenty-five years I have seen the same dentist in Surrey Quays. I love my dentist. When I first started going her nurse was Jade Goody. Poor Jade. I am proud to remember on such visits to the dentist Jade had her fingers down my throat. This was of course before the sad tale of her taumatic childhood became public and she became a victim again.
At one point, my dentist left Surrey Quays to open a private surgery. A few years later she returned to work two days a week at Surrey Quays. She said she missed her NHS patients. Her private patients were demanding, she said.
My lovely dentist has taken my MS very seriously. She has seen me on one crutch, two crutches and skipping into the surgery. She is interested in my story. She understands I have periodontal damage from when I was bulimic in my twenties. She has given me white fillings on the NHS because she understands that mercury may not bode well with my condition.
This week I needed to go the dentist. Pronto. I couldn’t wait for the nearly three weeks appointment to see my lovely dentist. I couldn’t work or function normally. Fortunately, I was able to afford to go to a private dentist. Not something I wanted to spend my hard-earned cash on, but it was an emergency.
I took a taxi into the West End. I enjoyed the trip. Over Waterloo Bridge I looked into the shops, wondering how all the furloughed staff may be feeling about lockdowns. Wondering which of these businesses would survive the closures. London felt as dead as my tooth, yet as painful as the nerve underneath it.
My private dentist was delightful. Expensive, but delightful. She sorted me out so I didn’t care of the cost. Once home and the numbness of the injection had worn off, I felt in control again. But in control of what? I still have plenty of dental work to be do, and shall keep the appointment at Surrey Quays. My dentist will understand how I had to be unfaithful, even if it does sadden her a little.
During this last visit the private dentist asked about my gum damage. I talked freely of the story of when and why I was bulimic. When I was in my 20’s I was ashamed, this story didn’t come out at all, in fact I sought private dentistry then just so it wouldn’t be on any NHS records. These periodontal problems were hi lighted when I was in Berlin, the Christmas just after I was diagnosed with MS in 1987.
What a shite Christmas that was. One emergency German dentist butchered me and ripped me off, the other told me I needed periodontal work on my gums when I got back to London. The irony, that soon after I got a job through an agent as a receptionist for the Periodontal clinic at the dental hospital of UCH. I got to learn a lot about this matter. I remember Dr Leg from Eastenders coming into to the clinic regularly. I wondered if he had bulimia too. I wondered why he wasn’t going private? Surely as an actor he’d have lots of money? What a lot I had to learn.
If we face our past traumas, they do become less painful but they never disappear. Anything can trigger a memory, a flash back. My private dentist reminded me of this. She could see the scarring, like a brain scan can see damage to my myelin sheath. All trauma based.
This weekend I drove my fifteen-year-old daughter to the park to meet with the same friends as per my previous blog about the altercation with the insecurity man (scroll down to read, I’m pleased with that one and the story has been picked up by a publisher and will be in a book of short Covid stories in the spring, will let you know). Because my daughter’s headphones had been borrowed by her step sister, in order to listen to her music, she had to plug her phone into the car system and allow me to listen.
What an eyeopener. I loved so much of the music she played. Penelope Scott was one of my favourites. My daughter seemed to enjoy me enjoying her music and I wished our journey was a longer one. I knew when she got her headphones back she wouldn’t allow me to listen in again.
One of the songs she played had a reference to bulimia.
“I had bulimia,” I said.
“Did you?” she said. “I didn’t know that.”
In that moment I felt that sense of connection I haven’t experienced since she started her periods. It was like I’d become a cool parent. One that could perhaps understand how hard life is for her and has been during these lockdowns.
“Everybody knows everything about everybody and what they don’t know they make up.” A saying from my ex Scottish boyfriend who is now dead.
What do we really know about anything or anybody until we spend time, proper TIME with someone? Proper, proper time.
I am so aware of how judgmental we have become. We really can’t claim to know. We can control nothing. We can radically accept that we have nothing to control. There is no message in this. What is truth? What can I trust? Who can I trust? Yet for me the most important question.
What are you trusting someone with?
Our responses are all unique and come from way before the womb. As individuals, our teeth give a lot away.
On second thoughts, there is a message. If you are experiencing any dental or gum pain, don’t wait. Get an appointment with your dentist. Even if the pain goes away and you cancel. There are many waiting lists for cancellations who are desperate.