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Friday, September 04, 2009

"The Queen's Commendation for bravery goes to ..."

I remember being taken to see the doctor or the dentist when I was little and as I reminisce, I don't seem to sense a great deal of bravery being present at the time.

One of my clearest memories surrounding health workers of any kind is of going to see the dentist with my Dad. It was near London Bridge (sort of) and every 6 months the reminder would obviously land on the floor and off we would go.

Now, my Dad has never had any major health issues - long may it continue (come to think of it, he's never had any minor ones either), not so much as a single filling. And so, being totally devoid of any fear of health practitioners, off we would march to see le dentiste.

It was, I suppose, a relatively run of the mill dental surgery in what was then, a fairly run down pocket of London. It was on a main road so I remember the front was incredibly dirty from all the car and bus fumes, the narrow corridor and staircase up suffering a similar fate thanks to the front door opening and closing.

We would sit, we would wait, Dad would get his teeth looked at (never any problems) and then I would get mine done. This invariably involved a filling of some description but the trauma of it was lessened by being allowed to wave my index finger at the dentist, this seemingly insignificant action resulting in him ceasing to inflict discomfort upon me.

Momentarily, at least.

Finally, job done, my Dad would get a smile, I would get a pat on the head and we would leave, not to return for another 183 days or thereabouts.

And then it all changed.

It was the first time I'd made the journey by myself. I can't remember exactly how old I was but I was feeling pretty pleased with myself; off to the dentist alone, not bad.

My suspicions that everything was not as it should be were first aroused when my arrival wasn't met with the same enthusiasm as when my Dad was present. Nevertheless, I forged ahead with the appointment.

"Perhaps his last patient was a troublesome one", I thought to myself, still waiting for him to recognise me as surely, the son of one of his favourite patients, my Dad.

The crowning turd in the water pipe however was still to come when it appeared that waggling my magic finger appeared to have no impact on the dentists' actions whatsoever.

I waggled (he drilled), I waggled some more (he drilled), in fact I almost smacked him in the nose with my waggling finger but the smell of burning stone continued to fill my nostrils.

Holding back some (admittedly slightly wimpish tears), I sat and listened to Christian Szell (not his real name, obviously), tell me what he'd done and that he would see me in 6 months time.

No pat on the head, no smile, no nothing.

Out you go son, on your way.

I can't remember that I ever went back to him and hence the need for dental treatment to this day. Actually, I never thought about it but without his rough treatment, I may not have needed to visit the dentist all those years later when I met my lovely wife so perhaps I should thank him?

Anyway, my dental visits weren't what I wanted to tell you about; it was about bravery in the company of white coats and today Missy showed exceptional bravery when neither M nor I thought she would.

It was a simple pre-school booster and, armed with a 'treat' for being good, we went in to the surgery.

I tried to distract her from the needle but it didn't work; she saw it. I tried to keep her talking while the nurse wiped her arm with a sterile wipe but it didn't work; she looked intently at her own arm. I drummed my fingers on the table and tapped the box in which her treat was contained but it didn't work; she looked off into the distance as the needle punctured her little fleshy arm.

I expected a jump and a wail but no, nothing.

Even the nurse said how brave she had been and not all children her age were as good.

Well done Missy.

' hope you don't have to have too many of those!


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