Going Forward, Not Backward

Standard

I detailed the horror of my last dental appointment here, exactly a month ago. Today I was due to go back and either reject it and not pay for it or keep it and pay $318 for the privilege. Often, prior to a healthcare appointment, I have carefully crafted a script of what I want to say. Then, upon arriving, the script dissolves into the culturally approved people-pleasing and acquiescence to the provider’s perceived higher status and I end up leaving feeling like I failed yet again.

Today’s script went this way:

Me: “I considered never coming back after what happened last time. I need you to understand that for me, having EDS means that over and over again a solution is offered (Physical Therapy, drugs, etc) and instead of it helping, I come away injured and set back. This experience makes it that much harder for me to trust that anyone can help me, and that much more worn out from trying.”

And, here’s what I ended up saying:

Me: “I considered never coming back after what happened last time. I need you to understand that for me, having EDS means that over and over again a solution is offered (Physical Therapy, drugs, etc) and instead of it helping, I come away injured and set back. This experience makes it that much harder for me to trust that anyone can help me, and that much more worn out from trying.”

High five to myself. My dentist was sorry and only slightly defensive. I pointed out that I was not criticizing anyone on his staff, I was simply noting that I am a very different patient than what they normally work with, and it is much harder to successfully treat me, and I needed him to hear and understand how it feels to be me interacting with health care. And, I think he did, I think he understood and that we can go forward, and maybe I’ve educated him just a bit about what it’s like to be the unusual person with the paper towel around their neck and an appliance stuck in their mouth.

I paid for the thing, and he didn’t give me another bottle of wine, but mostly I think we’re okay, and I’m not sitting here feeling disappointed that I wasn’t able to speak my mind calmly and reasonably. It’s a wee victory, meaningful only to me, but I’ll take it.

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