Surely you’ve heard the recent news about the dentist in Poland who PULLED OUT ALL OF HER EX-BOYFRIEND’S TEETH, right? The victim asked his 34 year-old ex-girlfriend to see him for a toothache. I guess when he showed up in her office with his new girlfriend shortly after dumping the old one, you could say she became a little disgruntled. Sorry, but this lady is just certifiable. They are saying she could face losing her license and 3 years in prison. That’s it?!?! You know that saying “an eye for an eye?” Well, I think that would be a more appropriate punishment for Dr. Looney Bins.
I’m proud to say that in all of my unhappy moments at the dental chair, this thought never even crossed my mind. Okay, maybe there was a time or two that I wanted to give someone a fast injection, but the idea of harming someone was always out of the question. Only a psychopath could do this.
Now that I’ve clarified that I’m sane(r than her,) we can get back to my attempts to stay that way. It’s probably painfully obvious for anyone following along that I did not like dentistry, and I should have just accepted the reality early on. I resisted hating it for many years. I knew my life would have been easier if I could just like it. So the work I really needed and wanted to sift through with Shawn was to first determine if I hated dentistry. Duh, right? Or was I like many people out there who just didn’t like working? Was I just a lazy, spoiled brat who didn’t want responsibilities? Was I just too immature to handle stress? (Don’t answer that.) I mean, there are plenty of other people out there who deal with the same level, the same type, or even more stress.
Why couldn’t I handle this?
I made lists of things I loved and hated about dentistry. I followed some practical exercises Shawn taught me while I was on the job to prevent my crazy thoughts and feelings from bringing me down. I learned specific techniques to actually deal with the stress right at the moment. For example, during moments of getting sucked into my perfectionist ways, I had to stop myself, and remind myself that I didn’t need to be perfect. I used to joke and dramatically tell patients it was a curse to be a perfectionist. They always loved that, encouraging me to be
cursed a perfectionist for them. But really, it was a curse. It chained me down with worry and dissatisfaction. I learned to manage that, and over time these types of stress management tools helped me dig myself out of my hole.
As I dug myself out and started feeling a bit more carefree, I got a little complacent again. I mean, I did finally admit that I wanted to change careers; that it was more than just the Monday night blues that we all feel; that I wasn’t just the spoiled brat who didn’t want to work and have responsibility. But I was still dragging my feet. Concurrently, my tolerance for the job with the “old flame” was reaching its limits. After a year back there, I knew it was time to break up again. Just like any breakup, I was terrified to do it. But I had to let it go. I cut my schedule 1 more day, going down to 3 days per week. Maybe this would make dentistry tolerable. It certainly didn’t help to work 4 days instead of 5. Maybe 3 was the magic number? Do you see how even though I recognized that I wanted out, I was still stuck, resisting making a change? A lot of that was driven by guilt, and ideas of who I should be and what I should do.
However, letting go of the belief that I needed to make myself suffer and work a job I hated was a huge baby step for me.
It was like I wanted to take a swim and instead of getting in the water, I walked to the edge of the sand on the beach. As the waves approached and retreated in and out of shore, I teased it, wanting to go in, but scared to get my feet wet.
Not once did I ever regret that decision. For a while I felt free again. A 3-day week was a great way for me to work towards making the big move. It allowed me to bide my time and tolerate dentistry a little longer while I searched for the next gig.
Alright, so maybe I’m a little crazy, but luckily, I never got to the point where I wanted to rip all of someone’s teeth out.