Sunday, June 9, 2013
I made an appointment to see the dentist. The appointment was planned last minute, so that I didn't have anytime to talk myself out of going. I got in on a cancellation appointment and had to rush there after the boys had swimteam one morning. We made good time leaving the city pool (no missing goggles or flip flops), and made it back to the house in record time. Rushing to the ladies room, I brushed my teeth again, removing most of the evidence that I'd just split a Pop Tart with my son, after all. A brush whizzed through my hair and I blew my nose when out of the blue, BAM! A NOSE BLEED! As my luck would have it, I'd just used the last of the T.P. as well.
Seriously? Now I had to get to the dentist on time with a NOSE BLEED and somehow not stain my clothes in the process! As I kept my head tilted back over the sink and scrounged for the cotton balls below, I heard a knock at the door. My son waited just outside, ready to get in a warm bath after doing 20 laps in the frigid city pool. He was persistent since his little brother was in the other tub and using all the hot water. He knocked again, but was told to wait due to my sudden nose bleed. I stuffed cotton up my nose and made my way to the locked medicine cabinet in the kitchen for nose spray.
Somehow, I got the bleed to stop rather quickly. The dry, triple digits were more than likely to blame. But I still had to get to the last place I wanted to be, the dentist. I told my older daughters to keep an eye on their brothers, feed them lunch and then I hit the road again. About halfway into the drive (just 10 minutes from my house), I stopped in the left turning lane for the red stoplight. I was about to turn onto our little highway at this point of the trip. As I waited there for the light to change, a large white semi truck just about ran me over for his "wide turn". I actually had to back up about 50 feet so he could pass and so I could live to see another day. It was as if the universe were trying to keep me from going to the dentist. I truly considered it a miracle that I made it to Dr. Bushman's on time, with like 5 minutes to spare! It was odd to be there alone. Even though I hate the dentist, I actually like the receptionist, the dentist (I was once his daughter's English teacher) and the hygienist at this particular office.
I'm pretty sure the smart dentists find the nicest, most charming people to work for them since they know the whole affair is legalized torture which we fork over our earnings toward. I was the last in the family to get that checkup, putting it off as long as possible. I'd done the rounds of getting my kids checkups and followups, a difficult task with school-age, busy kids and a full-time job teaching English to 14-yr. olds. Since we didn't have insurance for 2.5 years, there teeth were in pretty rough shape, which translated to mean double or triple the appointments. We racked up 23 cavities, even with one cavity free. (He's the gifted child who makes the others look bad, but badly needs braces, of course). Now honestly, let me make my position clear: I DO NOT LIKE GOING TO THE DENTIST!
Why, you may be asking yourself... Why be a hater? Maybe ymar arrived a dentist or maybe you are one of those amazing parents who brush and floss your kids teeth every night and make sure they get three cleanings a year. I can see you hovering over your 13-year old son, ordering them to open wide. Well, I am not one of those parents, at least with dental hygiene. I brushed their teeth until they hit like age 3 or 4, then gave them each a SpinBrush and let them go crazy. (They also wiped their tooshies at that age, but that's for another day). My logic was like, hey, this set will fall out soon anyway. I find ways to cut back their sugar intake, make them eat their veggies, and only brush their teeth for them like once a month, when I feel the need. I don't even tell my teenage daughters to brush anymore, since they will roll their eyes as soon as I open my mouth. Call me a lowlife parent, but you must understand how much of an improvement this is compared to my parents.
Dad's voice is still crystal clear. He'd say, "Girls, get in there and brush your teeth. It'll make hair grow on your chest!" Of course, we would generally do what he said, even after we understood that little blond and blue eyed girls should not aspire to such burly dreams. Typically, dad was the one who was interested in our dental hygiene. Being a dad, he probably got us to brush our teeth once a week, tops. Mom cooked, cleaned, made sure we bathed and did chores. She rarely told us to brush, floss, rinse with fluoride or scour our tongues. Though I can't say for sure, but I believe we'd get a new toothbrush maybe once a year, usually from the dentist or school hygiene bags. The first time I even knew what dental hygiene was happened at school in 5th grade, when a dentist visited during health week. I thought the free toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and red tablets were super cool. When I got to try the red tablets, I realized how poorly I'd been brushing instantly when my teeth lit up red in about every nook and cranny. This was also pretty discouraging. But things got worse, a ton worse. Our dental hygiene suffered greatly when dad was diagnosed with leukemia and then passed away two years later. The same year he was diagnosed we lived in Washington state. We went to the dentist a few times in the two and a half years we lived there. I remember the dentist was shocked that we'd never been to the dentist before. I was age 9. When we moved back to Arizona, Mom let another 6 or 7 years go by before taking us to the dentist. She was always kind of a legend for the wrong reasons at every clinic and dentist she took us to, but I guess she did her best with the tough circumstances she had to raise 5 kids in. Things did get better when our stepfather came into our family when I hit 15.
Back to the present cleaning of 2013- I climbed into the hot seat and a heavy metal "shield blanket" was laid across my body. (This should be a cue to run). Now, I do not ever think about it in the moment, but why don't they give you a radiation helmet? I know we have a skull and all, but isn't the brain the most important system we have? While the hygienist zaps each side of my face, my mind instantly stews upon the fact that X-rays are pretty outrageous in cost alone. It's pretty much like they are making you pay for a chance to be exposed to cancer. Just like most everyone else, I'm polite as he fills me with radiation. I hold the film in place, which really makes me feel like some of that charge should be reduced. I am basically doing someone's job at that point!
The hygienist was nice and all, but his space was lame and beige. No pictures, ceiling posters, nada! When the cleaning began and he brought out the sharp, metal instruments, I realized how similar these little sets are to the torture tools they feature in action films. I wonder if any criminals were once dentists or hygienists, maybe jilted over a lawsuit or something? I suffered through unimaginable pain,parting due to bone and gum loss. He scraped, poked, slipped into my gums and all while I stared at white and beige walls! Thankfully, a window and a few trees were also in view to stare at from time to time. After about 20 minutes, the neck pain started to set in. My least favorite part was when he explained that my teeth were so bad, I'd have to come in again so he could clean the top half. I also had two new cavities. He recommended I take Ibuprofen for the pain and explained that I had a stubborn muscle on the bottom half of my mouth that was inadvertently pushing the toothbrush up and off the gumming so I'd have to be more vigilant. The 1/2 cleaning took an hour. Ultimately, this is pretty much why I hate the dentist. You are poked, prodded, zapped, lectured, and then charged up the WAZOO! "Oh, and we look forward to seeing you back here for more in a few weeks!"
On my drive home, I dropped off the porcelain dolls that my daughters never really liked at the local thrift store. While I was there, I made a momentary discovery. All books, paper or hardback, were only 10 cents each! I quickly rummaged through and found 9 books, including Agatha Christie, John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, Dan Brown, a Curves Weight loss book and a Your Money Matters book! It was the most fun I've had in a Thrift store in years. It was a strange chain of events, to say the least, but I guess it all turned out in the end. I didn't arrive late nor was I bleeding profusely upon arrival. I wasn't flattened by a semi-truck and I had a new Christie book to enjoy after a dose of Ibuprofen. Ya, life is good, cavities and all.