Then there I was sitting in the chair. The strange yellow goggles (why are they yellow?) were perched stylishly on my nose, the bib for spitting bits and bobs into secured around my neck.
Dr Uncertain says: "I'm just going to take another look at your tooth before..." then he trails off. He has a quick prod, and blows some air on my gum, rather pointlessly I feel.
"I'm juuuust going to go upstairs and have a word with Dr More Experienced Than Me. Won't be a moment." Five minutes later he returns.
"We've decided not to go ahead today."
"Why?" I say in a surprisingly forthright tone. My first thought is: "Thank God I didn't have time to take the stash of pre-op sedation in my bag, having discovered at the eleventh hour that the surgery I'm at doesn't do pre-op sedation." It looks like we're in for a bit of a discussion, and I need what wits I have to be as sharp as they can be.
He gives me the lowdown on what exactly is going on with my wisdom tooth, how risky the extraction is going to be, how I will bleed a lot, it will take more than an hour, my jawbone, the facial nerves, my general health, etc etc oh God here we go again. He tells me that, in accordance with NICE guidelines (The National In - I tell him I know what it stands for, he apologises for being patronising) unless your tooth has been infected three times in a year, it stays put.
I tell him that in preparation for today my son has had to face the upheaval of moving in with his father for two to three weeks. That a social services crisis care team are as we speak on standby because I have no one to look after me, which isn't his fault but that's the way it is at the moment. That I have put myself back ON two waiting lists (for further M.E. therapy and psychotherapy on the NHS, both of which became available this month) to allow for the lengthy recovery from today's extraction. Which now, at the very hour it was supposed to happen, is all of a sudden not going to happen.
He apologises for being 'naive'. He says that generally people leave the surgery and get better and get on with things. He now realises that it's not like that for people with chronic health conditions. He apologises for all the upheaval.
I am shaking. Sadly, my body is still capable of producing nearly as much adrenaline as the anaesthetic I requested not to have in favour of one that wouldn't upset my system. I am angry that they didn't talk this over and phone me to get me in before the Big Day. All the preparation, mental and logistical, has come to nothing. I feel as if he's chickened out, bottled it at the last minute.
I am very angry. My son, uprooted, is uprooted needlessly. I...I...I cooked a huge vat of vegetables and mashed them at midnight in preparation for today. Oh the indignation.
Then quietly inside, I relent. I listen. I don't shout. I don't demand to see Dr More Experienced. He's far too busy upstairs earning £2,000 fitting a dental implant, I presume. Dr Uncertain thinks I should be referred to the Community Dental Service. Sally, you were right. This is what she had to say on my dental situation a while back:
A bit of a practical suggestion ... Every dentist can refer patients to the NHS Community Dental Service - it's for those patients with 'special needs' YEAH, I know. The CDS is usually at a local hospital. If you have medical problems or disabilities that mean getting there is a problem, ask your GP or the Community dental service, to arrange hospital transport - they fetch you and take you back, with an escort if you need it. Or the 'Friends of ... Hospital' volunteer driver service. If they have one.
I think of Sally and smile serenely as Dr Uncertain tells me that the CDS has the expertise for the complex scenario that is nightmare dentistry on a disabled patient (my words, not his). They have defibrillators, oxygen, and what he describes as "a hospital set-up in a calm surgery setting." Should I have requested the referral before today? No, because they wouldn't have listened. They had to experience the cock-up that was today to understand what life with a chronic health condition can be like. And until today, I had confidence in Dr More Experienced, who was the one who was supposed to be doing the extraction. Funny how people are suddenly busy with other things sometimes isn't it?
Actually, having pondered it all awhile on returning home mouth intact but nerves slightly shaken, I am quite glad. Dr Uncertain was right to be so, if he felt that I need more specialist attention than certainly he could provide. Whatever was going on at my surgery today, whether it was "Oh God! Not her from last year," or "On the NHS? Are you kidding?" or "That's a right bastard of an extraction, don't touch her!" Whatever. I am so glad to have NOT had someone plunge into my mouth with a cavalier, devil-may-care attitude. Instead I got a referral to somewhere that sounds really rather good.
My son is coming home tomorrow. I think I will make a cake. And hey everyone. I've got Autumn back :-)