My British Columbian Foggy friend sent me the following info in response to my request for details of how dental work impacts M.E symptoms. Thanks Kristina.
‘My experience at the dentist prior to understanding about light and sound sensitivity…
First of all I was exhausted and frazzled when I showed up. I had forgotten my ice pack for my head and pillow for my legs. This might have contributed to my epic meltdown. Also, at this point, I am still unaware of my sensitivities to light and sound.
The hygienist warned me that the descaler is very loud. Again, I had no idea this would be a problem.The cleaning begins… Within minutes I feel my nervous system ramping up. I try to distract myself, do meditative breathing, but nothing is working. I suddenly realize that the dam is about to burst and I signal for her to stop. I am then completely overcome with what can only be described as a severe anxiety attack with significant pain – everywhere, along with cognitive breakdown. I kept trying to explain that it was the sound, but I couldn’t stop sobbing for what felt like an eternity. The hygienist finally realized that it was the noise from the descaler that triggered the attack. The entire episode was traumatizing and humiliating.
When I first arrived at the dentist’s office I was already having trouble forming thoughts and words properly. By the end of the appointment and my spectacular meltdown, I was being treated like a child or someone deemed unstable. I avoided going back for over a year and a half.
BUT, we did agree that from now on my cleanings would be done manually.
When I finally scheduled another appointment, I arrived with:✔️A pillow for my head plus my ice pack for pain.✔️A pillow for my legs and feet for pain.✔️Very dark sunglasses – the kind that protect from all sides.
While I don’t like going back to manual cleanings, there was no pain, no nervous system meltdown, no M.E flareup.
I also had a very important conversation with my dentist. I explained the things going on behind my actions at the last appointment. But, I also said that – based on the conduct they witnessed – I could understand why they responded the way they did. Events that seem normal or mundane can be overwhelming for people with ME. One suggestion I would make would be to include M.E on the patient questionnaire. Or perhaps include a question for chronic conditions in general but with the space to elaborate. Then at least a conversation can happen before something traumatic does.’
I agree with Kristina, there are measures that can be undertaken by dental practices to ensure treatment is as untraumatic as possible. A questionnaire would be a great way to establish if the patient could possibly have light and sound sensitivities. These patients could then be encouraged to bring their own equipment – sunglasses, ear defenders etc. This would also cover people with migraines and other chronic illnesses. Prior knowledge would make the interaction much better for all parties.
Thank you to everyone who responded to my plea for info. It will all be mentioned in my talk at the end of next month.
and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY)