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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Man With The Foolish Grin Is Keeping Perfectly Still

Had my first dental appointment in *mumble-mumble* years today, ostensibly to take advantage of a free teeth whitening coupon I recently received in the mail.

Some people have an almost pathological dislike of doctors; my antipathy toward dentists isn't quite that extreme, but due to a botched wisdom tooth extraction inflicted upon me by my last dentist *mumble-mumble* years ago, I have been avoiding subsequent visits.

But still, sooner or later you have to look squarely into the eyes of your nemesis and say, "I will not allow you to intimidate me further. Have at, Sir (or in this case, Madame)! Cry 'havok' and let loose the dogs of periodontal hygeine!"

Or something like that.

So, I arrived promptly on time for my scheduled appointment this morning (after dropping off Little Nellie at the Scooter Doc to fix a minor problem), filled out the paperwork, and was escorted to "the chair" (the obvious analogy to Capital Punishment did not escape my notice), where I was interviewed, X-rayed (digitally, which was interesting, since the images popped up immediately on the laptop screen facing me - lulling me into a false sense of security, since apparently the images don't "reveal all", especially to the untrained eye), lectured, measured, and eventually leaned back to begin: The Scraping.

The nice dental technician-lady admitted that, considering I hadn't been to a dentist in *mumble-mumble* years, things were in not-too-horrible shape. Still, I was showing some initial signs of minor gum disease, evinced by a deepening of the gap between the surface of my gums and the underlying ligaments or something. Not awful, and easily reversable, she said, with more frequent cleaning and more vigorous flossing (something I've always been, unfortunately I guess, somewhat adverse to doing).

And then the news sort of went downhill from there. Because of the length of time between visits, I had a rather significant plaque and tartar buildup that was going to require "deep cleaning" using an ultra-sound pick, which might necessitate a local anesthetic, and did I want one?

Now, I have a somewhat high threshhold for pain, coupled with an abject, profound, and completely irrational, albeit fairly common case of trypanophobia (fear of hypodermic needles), so I opted out on the shot in the gums. And frankly, the cleaning wasn't at all uncomfortable, aside from an occasional minor twinge.

However, because they had only scheduled me for an hour's worth of cleaning time, she was only able to clean about a quarter of the way through, meaning not only would I have to forego the whitening, but I would have to schedule an additional appointment to finish the remaining part of the cleaning job. Clearly this wasn't going to be nearly so simple and straight-forward as I had envisioned.

And then the dentist herself popped in for her perfunctory inspection, at which point, after poking and peering with the little mirror-on-a-stick, she informed me that I had two small cavities between a couple of molars in the "upper right quadrant" that would require filling, which means most likely scheduling a third appointment, before I can even consider doing the "free" teeth whitening, which keep in mind, was all I was really there for in the first place.

Now, this is a shock, not to mention a great disappointment to me. I have always prided myself on the fact that I have survived for 47 years with nothing in my body that didn't grow there on its own (I don't count the tattoos since they're external, decorative, and completely elective on my part); no fillings, no crowns, no pins, or metal joints, or stints, or transplants, or bionic implants or what-have-you. "All OEM", as the guys at Schuck's Auto Parts would say. So, the prospect of my first artificial "enhancement" is just a teensy bit depressing, especially coming right around a birthday, as it does.

I guess I should count myself lucky. By the time my grandparents were my age, I think at least three of them either had full-on dentures - both upper and lower - or enough gold, lead, stainless steel and ceramic inside their jaws to set off an airport metal detector. And my parents, although not quite so laden down with dental appliances, nevertheless have a fair amount of work in there as well I believe. So, I've truly got nothing to complain about, and certainly can only blame myself for my obvious inattention to dental discipline.

But still, I walked out of the office feeling a rather down in the mouth - to say the least! - which depression was exacerbated only slightly by forking over $80 for my portion of the co-pay (and further, being armed with the knowledge that I'll probably have to shell out roughly equivalent amounts on at least two of the now three subsequent visits I'll need to schedule before this round is over).

As I was walking over to my office, I decided that I might get a bit of good news from the Scooter Doc. Instead, things continued to deteriorate. Evidently, the hit-and-run of the previous Fall had loosened something inside my muffler, which is causing the muffler assembly to vibrate wildly, which in turn has put additional stress on the wheel assembly, causing the locking nut to come loose, and letting the wheel wobble about a quarter-inch or so off true. Scooter Doc was able to fix the loose nut and thus tighten the wheel with a few twists of a large socket wrench, but he recommended eventual replacement of the muffler, since the vibration will continue, and eventually the wheel will come loose again. Oh, and he just happened to have one in-stock, which would take about 30 minutes to replace, at a cost of about $200 for the unit, and maybe $30 labor, plus tax.

Well, I was already on a spending-spree, so what's a few hundred more here-or-there, right?

As I trudged the remaining few blocks to my office, I just kept telling myself, "it's all for the best. It's all for the best."

And, really it is, but even so, I sure can think of more fun ways to blow $350 in ten minutes.

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Posted byCOMTE on 12:30 PM

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