Anyway, it took a lot of Novocaine and a lot of nitrous oxide, but eventually I was in a very happy place and didn't care about what was being done to my mouth. I think part of my dentist problem has been that it takes the shots an extra loooong time to work on me, and I need a bunch before I'm actually numb. Maybe this is in part what has caused me to have such panic and phobia.
This dentist is good with cowards. I'm glad I chose her. She put relaxing music on a CD, and gave me headphones. She gave me two stress balls to squeeze, one for each hand. She didn't let me curl into the fetal position, but when I started to panic, she paused, gave me a few more shots, upped the nitrous oxide... it took awhile, but finally I felt dreamy and just fine.
Near the end of the procedure, the words "root canal" snapped me out of my happy place and I refocused on the dentist. She said the decay was bad, right near the nerve, and I might need one. A complicated conversation ensued, my part of which mostly sounded like a bunch of grunts and whimpers through cotton and dental tools, in which I incoherently tried to tell her, "If you think you might need to do one, do it now because I feel good right now, I'm not afraid, and I don't want to go through this again."
In fact, I was a little bit enthused by the idea of returning to my happy place for awhile longer: it was nice there. But she said she didn't want to do a potentially unnecessary procedure, so I have to see her again in two weeks. Then she'll either do one, if I need it, or just cap it up if that's all it needs.
Two weeks, and I have to do it all over again. Ick.
But she was very reassuring, explaining that now she knew exactly how much time and Novocaine I needed, so it would go much better. She said lots of encouraging words, told me I'm not crazy, I'm not abnormal, I just need extra attention to time and dosages. Then eventually she pried the stress balls out of my hands and sent me on my way.
Right now I feel tingly but pain-free. I know that's going to change, relatively soon.... But at least it's over.