At age ten I was taken to the dentist, this was such a traumatic experience that has left me with anxiety and fear each time I go to see the dentist, even now 40years later.
mummy, as I now called her took me to Kensal Rise in London. I recall the dentist had a bright red door, situated on the high street. I remember this like yesterday. In those days racism was rife in this country and even the professionals were brutal.
I didn’t know what was happening or where I was going. This was the first time I had been to the dentist. I sat on the chair, I heard drilling sounds coming from the rooms, but I still didn’t understand. In Jamaica children hardly attend dentists as your family usually took care of wobbly tooth. I cannot remember why I went maybe I was having problems or maybe just routine, but whatever it was until today my fears are still present. I’m seen as an anxious patient . Funny hey how simple issues in life can change our mentality.
When I was called my mummy sat outside. I didn’t like the dentist he was strict and had a serious face, and he didn’t smile. He told me to open up my mouth while he poke around it hurt. Then he injected me into my gums, my gum felt numb. I was not asked any questions and I didn’t say anything. This was especially as my mummy was sitting outside and I knew I was not allowed to be disrespectful to others. I was taught to be seen and not heard. It was drummed into me to only speak to adults when spoken to.
The dentist started to pull and pull and pull, well I screamed and screamed and screamed. My mummy came in to see what was going on, I was surprise to feel her present but she didn’t stop him. I was simply told to be quiet. Well that dentist pulled as if he was instructed to cause fear and pain. I cried so much that day. Two teeth were taken out that day maybe more. I vowed no more sweets, I wanted to get out the chair and run, but he had his knees between my legs as he pulled. He was determined to get those tooth out. When he was done I was told to rinse. Then it started the torrential bleeding.
I was given some paper towels to hold, I watched as it became saturated with blood. My mummy spoke to dentist, I don’t know what was said, but I did noticed that she was surprised at the amount of blood. I cannot recall getting much sympathy from mummy, but she wasn’t as harsh that day and at least I didn’t do any house chores that day. In the evening I still continued to bleed but was told we were going to a prayer meeting I now know it was 15miles away. I was sad that mummy didn’t care but as a good girl I had to be quiet.
The minibus arrived and we drove around picking up other church members, I continued bleeding but just held the towel in my mouth as told to do. Everyone was asking why I had the towel but mummy just said she had a some tooth taken out. Nothing would stop her from going out that night and there was no one to leave me with.
We attended the convention and we sat at the back. I remember the church was full, I was hungry and cold and bleeding. Mummy didn’t say anything to me, if she did I cannot remember. The only time I received any notice was when one of her church sister said “Sister B,what happen to your daughter”. Her reply was in Jamaica patois. ” nutten nu rong wid her, a she a do it”.
Then she said she told her I had couple teeth taken out. I remember the woman saying “no sister B, you should not carry her out like that”. She went on to say the dentist with the red door in kensal rise London, didn’t like black people. I’m sure I noticed a little sympathy from mummy, but I could have been wrong. The woman gave me one of her towel, she was kind and treated me like a mother should treat her child, she patted me on the back, while my mummy carried on clapping and singing. I watched until the white towel turned red.
I received no sympathy that day. After all she did feel that I was making myself bleed to avoid church.,my fear of dentists was now completely etched in my mind.
Little did I know but god was walking with me, as many many years later with advanced technology, the real reason was revealed…
Although the dentist was mean, the bleeding condition didn’t help. This condition will have a post much later on it’s own.