Due to my god-awful dental insurance (one of few reasons why self-employment blows), I am only able to visit a handful of dentists in the area. I had to part with my former dental gang, which—trust me—wasn't easy. I love them. I really do. I know about their cats, their hobbies, their schooling... I've introduced them to things like My MilkToof, which just might be the coolest blog about clay-made teeth I've ever seen. Plus, they kindly humor my anxiety and kindly hook me up with dentist-goer perks like a free toothbrush and coupons for mouthwash.
I'm serious when I say that I leave Dr. D's office with a huge smile on my face and a reminder card for my next appointment, which I've already scheduled. Listen. Teeth might just be everything to me.
"For a smoker, you're really obsessive about your teeth," said the curt hygenist that nearly scraped my gums out of my mouth yesterday.
"You have to be when you're a smoker," I replied.
"Or you could just quit," was her retort. No shit.
Perhaps I didn't think of that. Maybe she thought she was telling me some grand secret, like the time it never dawned on me just to roll up the bottoms of my pants, instead of holding them at the knees as I walked in the rain... DUH! But chances are she was just being an asshole. Sit tight. This shit gets better.
My appointment was at 12:30 in the afternoon. Now that I work from home, I can do those sorts of things. Make doctor appointments. So I was told to come in early to fill out the paperwork. When I stepped up to the counter and conversed with the woman on the other side, she smiled big into her computer screen then looked up: "You're K's friend it says."
I was referred by a friend and someone had put it in the notes—hilarious. So from here, I expected special treatment. Maybe they would let me cut the line or put me in a special room—or better yet they were going to give me two toothbrushes. I was set for another six months with two toothbrushes!
"Hey guys, if you could let me know what this is going to cost me, I'd appreciate it. I have a new insurance and it's kind of crappy..."
My bubble quickly dissipated when the other woman behind the counter, a middle-aged blonde with a romantic croak of a voice, raised her head: "OH! IS THIS THAT OBAMACARE?" (Loudly.)
I felt like someone just pulled my pants down in a crowd—only to reveal I was wearing the wrong day-of-the-week underwear. But it's Thursday... I imagined the crowd murmuring, staring down at my two-day-old, "Tuesday," day-of-the-week underwear.
Ok. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to take offense to the "Obamacare" remarks; however, she's not the only one with which I've employeed my defenses. It makes me feel uncomfortable, like I'm getting something for nothing, or I'm cheating the government. I feel as dirty as the word "Obama" in this conservative, a-little-too-close-to-West-Virginia town.
"Umm... you mean healthcare.gov? Yeah. I pay for my own insurance. Myself."
About two years ago, I had no real concern about the healthcare industry. Sure, make everyone healthy and happy. Why not? Give those people without insurance some damned coverage already... the important word being them. Now suddenly, I am them.
I didn't get called back for my cleaning until 1:15, nearly an hour later, which is when I encountered the "Tasmanian Devil of dental hygienistry," or so I've dubbed her to everyone else. I'm sure there is a more fitting title, something funnier: The Edward Scissorhands of Teeth Cleaning, Freddie Whiter Smile (or Else) Kruger... Anyway, she RAVAGED my mouth—probably for the sake of hurrying. I was flinching, pinching my legs, groaning with my mouth agape. Was this happening?
|photo cred: skymovies.sky.com|
"Stay still," she said coldly, continuing with her icepick, plaque bits hitting me in the cheeks.
Five minutes later: "You have to quit jerking. Stay still."
After that, it felt like she was going at it harder, sadistically, and once more I was six years old being scolded with the same line over and over: Meghan. Meghan, don't jump down the stairs. What did I say? Meghan. Don't. Meghan Patrice... don't jump down the stairs. Walk down those stairs. Meghan Patrice, if I have to... I swear I'm going to... (I didn't listen as a kid—or now either, I suppose.) I actually broke my leg this way when I was five, jumping down stairs.
"It just hurts really bad," I tried to explain to Buffy the Gum Slayer, as she vandalized my face.
"Well, I can't do my job if your teeth are traveling all around the room." She pulled back with a frown.
That's when I noticed all of the blood on her blue latex gloves, my blood. I wiped the tarter sprinkles from my eyebrows, from out of my nostrils, and opened my eyes to see a bruiser of a kid, highschool aged, looking at me from a room from across the hall, half-grinning in his cut-off t-shirt. Had he witnessed the whole thing? Was he taping me with his iPhone and shooting all over the interwebs?! Why in the bloody hell didn't she close the door?
I walked out of that room to—I supposed—another room for an x-ray or an exam with the dentist, whatever thing came next. But I followed her... to the waiting room? Again? I waited for another 20 minutes among the unaware, pre-pain-stricken souls in the large lobby, my mouth sore and tasting of blood. I never left the dentist's feeling like that... cleanings were refreshing, pleasurable even. I left with a fresh coat of mint and silky smooth teeth that I rubbed over with my tongue for days. Really, folks, I've only had one cavity in my life, ONE, (humble brag) because I'm that cautious and thorough with my oral hygiene. I am so sure she didn't need to go all Kill Bill on my gums.
Best part... ready? Finally, I get called back for the exam, where I wait for another fifteen minutes for the dentist WHO COMES IN WITH HIS CELLPHONE IN HIS HAND going, "My wife called at 12:41 and left a message... Let's see what she has to say." Then, he leaves the room with his phone in his ear. WHAT?!
In total, the visit took a little over two hours for a cleaning! I just want to know what kind of treatment I would have been given had I not mentioned my friend's name. And you know what? I didn't even get a fucking toothbrush!