Visits to the dentist make me nervous. Some visits are down right terrifying. When the trembling started I felt so disappointed. I could feel the terror spreading. I closed my eyes and tried to will my heart to slow down but I just could not breathe. My heart felt like exploding and my entire body shook. As soon as the fear hit me I broke out in a sweat and chest pains.

Great…a full blown panic attack. There was a time when these episodes occurred often in my life but not anymore. Anxiety gets the best of me sometimes but it is manageable.

Spinning and dizziness hit me, my fingers and toes tingle. Then the weird floating…detached sensations arrive. Panic attacks are overwhelming and I cannot hide the symptoms. I feel betrayed and trapped by my own body.

My doctor was completely unfazed. He told me my reaction was completely normal for some people. He takes the blue paper bib off of me and helps me to stand up. He calls an attendant to help me “walk it off.” I need someone to help because I am shaking so hard and feel dizzy…my walk is more like a drunken stagger. Which is fine when full of wine but kinda odd when sober. He continues to explain that my reaction is caused by the epinephrine in the anesthetic…triggered my adrenalin “fight or flight response.”

I wasn’t sure which idea was more shocking: that I wasn’t having a panic attack or that this moment was “completely normal”. All these years I thought I was terrified of the dentist.

Nope. Completely normal.