Well…I guess they didn’t like my counter offer to their outrageously low bid on the house. Heard absolutely nothing. Oh well. Life continues.
The high stress levels I’ve drummed up from the real stress levels spilled over at work yesterday and really put things into perspective for me. Call it a face slap of “Get yourself together, man!” I can’t allow myself to get into that state. Things happen. Things that I can’t control. I can get nervous, I can vent, I can worry, but honestly, it’s not up to me how life happens, only how I react to it. I’ve dealt with so much more stress than this in my life and I’ve always been strong or let it make it me stronger. The problem is that these things inevitably do overflow onto other people and that’s just wrong. It’s not their fault and it shouldn’t be their burden, my own personal troubles. And more importantly for me, it’s not my own fault. I continue to assert that I’ve been paying for my father’s indiscretions. Karma works, but for some reason I’ve been paying the price for his nastiness and unfair treatment of others. My siblings seem to be faring well. That may be true, but if I look at it instead like I’m being put through the same tests as my father then it’s easier to overcome. I want to be put up against the same hurdles as him and be able to come out #1. I want to be able to stop the cycle, that vicious cycle, instead of preserving it. He cheated on everything and then would get offended if someone found out or gave him a taste of his own medicine. Yeah, that’s good. I need to stop drowning in that karma explanation and look at it like being a better person than he ever was or will be.
There are things I can directly solve and there are others that take time. That is my ultimate failure in life: patience. Time will tell. I’m quick to jump into things. Even though I can usually guess what’s going to happen (and usually I’m correct), I need to learn to wait because there’s hope (there’s always hope) and a chance that it may not. If I act prematurely as I’m wont to do, then that possibility has been shot in the heart. Poof. Gone.
As I learned in The Three Ninjas: “Strength in control.”
I was very mad at myself yesterday for losing my temper as I did. I’m not like that anymore. I don’t lose my cool and ESPECIALLY not around my patients. In fact, I’m known in the office for having and dealing with difficult patients well. However, she pushed me so far and I was already in a bad mood worrying about the house and everything, my game was totally off. The pure unfairness of the condescension and loathing she had for me (and everyone else) was so immense I had not only took strong offense, but I held a righteous rage for everyone else’s sake. Who is she to think she is higher, mightier, smarter, etc than everyone else in the office? I HATE those people. Honestly, the words she said would have annoying, but fine to deal with, but the emphasis, the feeling, the emotion and belief behind them burned me up like no other. How DARE she? I was fighting a quickly losing battle to control myself and validate my perfectly legitimate questions (I treated her like I treat everyone despite being warned about her beforehand. I’ve been doing this for years). When she got an inkling like she was going to lose this battle to reason, she said, “OK, it’s time for me to put my headphones in” and popped both of them in her ears so she wouldn’t have to listen. I hadn’t even finished explaining yet. LIVID. LIVID. I was like, ok then, I’m going to get this done as fast as possible, so I lean her back like any other patient, then she starts to flounder (she’s in her 30s) and say, “No one has EVER set me back this far. (In the tone that suggested I did this in spite of her)”
I said, “Oh yeah? Would you like me to put it up? (You know as opposed to further back?)” My hands were shaking so badly in my overwhelming rage it took a good 10 minutes to calm myself back down. The entire time I’m working on her I kept having to tell myself that I’m a better person than she is, I’m a better person than that. The devil on my shoulder kept suggesting I do this as roughly as humanly possible because I’ve never seen her before, how could she possibly know how I usually clean people’s teeth? Why people think it’s a good idea to make the hygienist angry (the one that wields small knives in the most sensitive part of your body) is beyond me. The angel was desperately countering those very attractive words. In the end I listened to the angel. She wasn’t worth it. Not worth going to jail for, not worth losing my job over, not worth a stroke or a heart attack. Of course, then she made 2 more appointments on my schedule which I promptly moved to someone else’s. While I was battling with myself and definitely towards the end, I could see her eyes and they, honestly, were confused. I think she expected me to be rough, but I made the difficult conscious decision to treat her like I treat all my patients. I said that to the temp once: Once a person is in my chair, they are my patient, no matter what they did or what I know of them. They are my responsibility and I will treat them like I treat everyone else that comes through. Even if they don’t deserve it. At all.
It all went down like this:
- Front Desk S comes to me and hides in my room because B-Patient (abbr. BP) saunters in and immediately complains about how stuffy it is in the waiting room. See? If it was just the words coming out, it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s the tone, the emotion, the intention behind them. Front Desk wants me to take her back as soon as possible. At this point I’ve already been briefed by my Dr. about her.
- I go out at 1 minute past to feel tension in the waiting room and everyone against one side with one lone person on the other. I call out and guess who stands up. But she doesn’t JUST stand up, she does so slowly and gives me the most hateful look ever. Oh boy.
- I direct her to straight into my room, and already feel a very negative energy from her, but before I can do or say anything she stops before sitting in the chair, turns and looks up at me. She says, “Everyone is sick in the waiting room.” I’m taken aback at the words which is not the usual, how are you, may I set my things down, etc, and not only the words, but the vehemence. I think I may have even taken a step back from the ill-wind. I respond with a “what?” and she repeats, “Everyone is sick in the waiting room.”
- I give a pregnant pause here, trying to think back into the waiting room where no one was coughing or anything. Then I repeat her words. “Everyone is sick in the waiting room.” Not a question because I was already annoyed.
- She responds, “Yes.” Then she looks pointedly, accusingly, at me and demands, “Are your hands clean?!” I’m taken aback again at her aggression. OK, you’re going to be like that. I’m losing it already so I give a somewhat sarcastic, but very slow, “I mean, I washed my hands?”
- She seems to accept that and sits in the chair. She then tells me she brought her nightguard. This is normal and I’m relieved and hopeful that was all she wanted to get off her chest. So I take the guard back to have it cleaned and relay this ridiculous obnoxiousness to my coworkers who are hanging about in the back.
- I then return, and decide to adopt my usual cheerfulness. I remember she was concerned about washing hands, so I make a show of doing so. The vibes emanating from my room are still extremely negative so I don’t even bother looking in there when I wash my hands, instead pretending to be nosy about my coworker’s room.
- So I go in, fully intent on getting through this with the least amount of negativity and start putting on my gloves so we don’t waste any time. I ask the standard health update question and that’s where it all fell apart.
- Me: “Any changes to your health, new medications, diagnoses…”
- BP: “I’m on an antibiotic.”
- Me (asking standard followup): “Oh? What are you taking it for?”
- BP, scoffing: “A bacterial infection what ELSE do you take antibiotics for?”
- Me (trying to keep it together): “What brought it on–“
- BP, rolling her eyes to heaven: “I ALREADY told the front so that I wouldn’t have to repeat myself!”
- Me (90% gone and struggling Hard so I start mixing up my words because now I’m having trouble seeing properly in my rage. I’ve noticed that these days I’ll revert to my mother’s tongue when I get angry): “Well, I still have to confirm verbally everything with the patient even if–“
- BP: “IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DENTISTRY.”
- Me: “Well it does (I’ll admit here I’m giving her a nasty look and my tone is no longer controlled) if it has to do with your heart–“
- BP: “If it had to do with my jeart I wouldn’t BE HERE.”
- Me: Trying to explain infective endocarditis and joint replacement infections and other infections that really do affect us–
- BP: “Okay, it’s time for me to put these on.” **pops in her headphones to drown me out**
- I stop and pause because I’m considering pulling a Sh-H and leaving the room to compose myself but realize that would cause more issues.
- Intense muscular contractions due to rage. Like I want to punch a wall.
- I tell myself that I’m just going to get this over with quickly because it still has to happen and then just give it to the doctor, so I lean her back so that I can get started
- BP suddenly looks up at me with malice and mild panic saying, “NO ONE has EVER put me this far back before!!!”
- I’m even more furious now, “Oh really?” Then I pause and ask, innocently, “Would you like me to put you up a bit?
- BP: Nods vigorously and says, “Yes.”
- I go on to swallow my furthering rage and say, my vision half white, “Well, it really impedes the way I work. The chair always makes you feel as though you’re on your head, but your head isn’t even lower than your feet.”
- It is truth, though! I didn’t put her back any more than any other patient of mine. Why would I make a volatile situation even worse? She must have been paranoid that I did it because I was angry and that I could and like everyone else, was out to get her.
- It took, no joke, 15-20 minutes to fully control the tremors in my muscles.
- I just had to keep telling myself that I’m a better person than her, I’m a better person than what the demon on my shoulder wants me to be.
- It’s hard when you have tiny razor blades in your hands. I won’t lie, the thought crossed (and crosses when ppl are so mean) my mind about jabbing it in lethal places. In a less fatal thought line, I debated heavily whether I should just be rough, like really rough, because she deserves it for being SUCH an entitled, petulant asshole to (no doubt) everyone she comes across. I mean, she’d never know, I’ve never seen her before. She could just think I’m a rough hygienist. Hah. I certainly look the part (most patients that have never seen me before have great fear in their eyes and many go as far as I beseech me to be gentle, lol).
- Internal battle waged in my mind and in the end I decided that I can’t do that because I’m not that kind of person. I’m better than her, I’m better than my demon. I’m going to come out on top of this. It helped me a lot to calm down and remind myself over and over that once a patient is in my chair, no matter what person they are, they are my patient and I will treat them as such (i.e. like every other patient that graces my chair)
- I remember thinking towards the end that she kept looking up at me for some reason and it might have been because I was surprisingly gentle.
- In reality, it took so much effort to be as normal as possible. My rage kept coming in waves and I’d have to tamp it down each time it came up. I have an anger problem that I typically keep under wraps well (ESPECIALLY when it comes to patients), but I also have a resentment issue. It burns slow and strong. Honestly, I was probably more rough with her than I intended.
- Afterwards, I tried to speak as normally as possible and you can bet your bottom dollar that I wasn’t expecting any sort gratefulness from her. I jet out of that room and never came back.
Haha. Instead, I went to go vent to my coworkers and managed to smack one of them so much harder than I meant to because I was steaming so badly and couldn’t control my muscles.
I still can’t believe I lost it the way I did. And in retrospect, it didn’t even sound that bad. I acknowledge that if those same words were spoken by somebody else without a resident demon in their soul, I more than likely would have just shrugged it off. You just had to have been there are talking to the vile snake with venom dripping from her always-out fangs.
Later, I was telling my doctor and she had a very similar story about her own reaction to that witch. It made me feel better because the both of us have similar anger issues and she said she, too, left that day with trembling muscles and white vision. She doesn’t even know why we have her here as a patient still.
The best part of this story? The patient scheduled 1 year’s worth of appointments and was on my schedule. I guess she didn’t perceive she was acting out of line at all. I was like, screw that, and shoved her into someone else’s schedule, are you kidding me? Who knows what I’d do the next time???
I can’t believe it took like a week to finish this post.