I've been pretty busy doing some intensive quilting over the last two weeks, but deadlines have been met, quilts delivered and I hope to have a bit of a rest this weekend. In the midst of the heavy quilting schedule I developed an infection under a tooth and had to have that dealt with, which made me think about why I hate going to the dentist so much.
I have to admit that in my adult life I have rarely experienced much actual pain while having dental work, but in our childhood, the '60's era, there was one local dentist who was known as "The Butcher". As children, we didn't know that, and our Mum just told us to be brave, so we endured visits to him as best we could. He didn't believe in analgesics for anything but removing a tooth, and my terror of drills is directly traceable to him. If you flinched he growled "Be still!" and kept on going. He was fierce and smelly and had wiry hair growing out of his hands, but I can't remember his face except for horn rimmed glasses, because it was better if you kept your eyes shut.
Looking back I really think he might have been a sadist, and enjoyed the pain he inflicted on us. I thought he might have been better with adults, but our SIL went to him as a young woman and he was so horrible she never went back.
I don't think Mum ever knew how much pain he caused, and in our family you didn't complain, you just dealt with things. When we were in primary school a Dental Clinic opened in another school and we were all trucked over there en masse. They discovered so much work to be done it was genuinely astonishing, but no-one complained because at least they were preferable to the Butcher (and I think it was free). I can remember Mum wondering why our teeth were suddenly so bad, but years later a teacher from that time told me one of the dentists from that clinic admitted they were all training, and did a lot of the work "for practice". Again, no one complained or got a second opinion.
In my adult life a lot of those fillings fell out and had to be repaired, and one tooth broke repeatedly until there was nothing much left to save. So I wanted it removed, despite the very nice young dentist's offers to try and save it.
While I was waiting in the chair I thought of a story our older neighbour had told me years before. She was a child in the thirties, and they were very poor, living in a little cottage 12 miles from town. When she was ten or eleven she developed a raging toothache and after putting up with the agony for a day she and her mother set out to walk along the train lines into town. This was marginally shorter than the road, and they walked all the way there; someone (probably the barber) pulled out the tooth with no painkillers, and then they walked all the way home. She was grateful because the pain was so much relieved, and while she realised that it seemed quite barbaric she said that's what you did in those days.
So while I was sitting there enduring the pushing and pulling and having a tooth with very stubborn roots removed, I thought of her and was thankful for modern dental practice, and I may have cursed those trainees from my childhood a bit too.