When I woke up this morning I wanted to go back to sleep. I remembered that today was the day I was going to go in for the root canal, and then I was scared. But I made myself get up and do a few things around my place, knowing that I didn't know what kind of shape I would be in afterward. I was later than I wanted to be when I arrived despite my early start. I had made a last minute decision to stop at the chiropractor before my visit, and I'm glad that I did since my lower back is still sore. At some point in time I started thinking about what I want out of life, and I decided my word was going to be healthy. More on that later. I arrived with a sense of unease although I was in a good mood on the way in, reminding myself of the many things in my life that I could be grateful for, this lasted until I met the receptionist and the other woman who were manning the front desk. I didn't like her brusque tone, or dismissive attitude. I tried to ask about payment, but apparently she wasn't in the mood to discuss it. I decided that maybe they didn't need me any longer since they had my insurance card on file, but thought that was odd.
They wanted to take my picture for their records and I objected. I was already behind schedule and saw absolutely no need for this layer of red tape. She was pretty snotty when I asked why my date of birth, social security number, name, and address weren't enough to identify me as a patient. She rolled her eyes in an overly dramatic way to show me how put out she was, but did tell me that I could skip the picture taking process as if she was doing me a huge favor by letting me get away with this. I went into the room and was met by a very attractive young woman who was very nice. I started feeling calmer, she told me she liked my shoes, and I thought that was cute. Then she wanted some x-rays. This is a standard and I expected it. She didn't know what she was doing and had to do the first one three times. This did not endear me to her. She leaves, and the doctor arrives with his assistant who is an icy blonde. I don't know she's icy initially because I am listening to him, but this becomes evident as we go along. She does know what she's doing, and this is when I learn that she may be incapable of empathy as she displays none, jamming the pieces into my mouth and tearing up my gum tissue without the faintest hint of remorse much less an actual apology. The doctor says some things that makes me think he doesnt respect my dentist, and my apprehension increases until tears are making tracks down my cheeks.
He tells me I seem nervous and asks how the numb area is, ice woman also asks as if I am no more than a two inch square of tissue they need to get some money out of that morning. I tell him that I hate the numbing part. I can see the needles and this is disconcerting. They shoot one into the space where my upper and lower jaw connect, I expected that. Then they move to the left and I feel the medication go up into my cheek. They're working on tooth number 19 which is on the lower left and I'm not sure why they put that there, but maybe there was some legitimate medical reason. He ices my tooth and I tell him I can sense it. He asks me to describe it. I tell him it isn't painful, but I can feel it. I feel like they think I am a difficult and hysterical patient, and rather than offer me any empathy, or emotional support, they tell me I will be fine and this time the needle goes down to the bone which makes a scary scratching sound. Before the procedure he asks if I have any questions. I say no. He says something else, and I tell him to get started which I'm sure he did not appreciate. The drill sound goes right through me and I start to almost panic. I force myself to remain calm. I'm trying to relax as my throat fills up with saliva. One thing I forgot to mention. I had to ask the first woman who was in my room to stop jamming her suctioner down my throat. I think she felt bad about that, it honestly felt like I was going to start choking or gagging not to mention the sensation of a foreign object down there was super unpleasant.
It feels like I am in the chair forever. My jaw aches. I smell bleach several times, the noises the different drills make is sending all sorts of imagery through my mind, I start crying again, but if they notice, they do nothing other than keep going. Finally ice woman rips the dental dam partially out of my mouth and leaves me hanging as if I should know what is going on at that moment. I ask if it's done and she says no as if I am the stupidest person she has ever met. I sit there not knowing what to expect and ask how much longer (approximately) it will be. She says ten minutes in the tone you might use to tell your child who has been asking; "Are we there yet?" every five minutes since the trip started. She is condescending to the point of being rude, but nothing she says is factually incorrect to my knowledge. Finally I am done and while I'm sitting there the doctor says something to me. Finally I just tell him what I am thinking and feeling. I think he was pretty stunned when I told him that it had been a very dehumanizing experience, and to his credit, he did apologize. His partner in crime never did, nor did she offer any signs of agreeing with him such as a head nod, or the type of reassuring noises one makes in those types of situations. He talks without saying much, I tell him the apology helps, but that's only partially true.
He was worried about me feeling pain during the procedure, and I finally looked at him and told him I wasn't worried about the pain. I think that really confused him, because he gave me a 'what the hell is she talking about now?' look. He asked what my concern was and I tried to explain it, I don't have money for this procedure, I feel ill treated, and I kind of can't believe I didn't just walk out of there as soon as I got a bad gut feeling about the place and the people. I have no idea if financial pain is a real term or not, no amount of money could have helped compensate me for that experience. I leave slowly, caught in some sort of nightmare feeling dream state where you pray that you wake up and laugh at yourself for letting your unconscious mind scare you like that, but it is all too real. Out in the reception area the woman behind the desk barks at me when I leave, I inform her that I need to use the restroom, which I do, but I also take a couple minutes to sit in there and cry. She goes through the payment details with me and rolls her eyes again when I tell her I don't have the Care Credit card with me. I've never needed the actual card to finance everything, whenever I ask I'm told that they can just look me up, so I didn't think I would need it today. I ask about the discount and she tells me I don't qualify for it when the sheet of paper makes me think that I do.
She tells me that's for cash paying patients, and then I see the words I missed earlier. I was really in no shape to be processing anything other than what I had just gone through, I wouldn't be surprised if they inflated my bill to make a little extra, but hopefully the endodontist is ethical enough to avoid things like that although I am sure there are many ways to pad expenses and most patients would be none the wiser. He didn't seem unethical at all, I might have even liked the guy had I met him in other circumstances. He seemed intelligent, reserved, but clinical rather than kind, and I have a tough time with those types. It's probably difficult to get the bleeding heart types into those types of jobs, and I did not envy him his. I would never want to work in a clinic like that, the money would never be worth it to me. Not if I sat in a chair drilling through the hardest substance the human body manufactures unless you want to get figurative and say it's the cold dead hearts some of us have. I drove home in tears, deciding at the last minute to stop at the grocery store. My mouth isn't sore from the pain yet, but I realize that is coming. I have the guy's cell phone and am told I can call if if there is any sort of emergency. He does not believe that this will be the case, but warns me that in rare cases, the tooth will flare. I am familiar with this type of pain, but there is no way of avoiding it at this point.
My friend calls and I am grateful for her. Another friend calls, and is sweet. I get home, eat, and bite my lip several times because I can't seem to figure out a way to stop doing this. Eventually I settle down, it still feels as if I am in some sort of altered reality, but sadly, I am not. My insurance may, or may not, cover some portion of this. I will be billed for the remainder if that is the case. My dentist has told me that the work she did was necessary, maybe she told the truth, maybe I will be paying even more since I'm not sure what she did that he couldn't have done, but whatever, that's water under the bridge now. The next step is a crown for me, two if I want to try and have the one another dentist did that I don't like replaced. I would like to have that done, but I also know that every time you mess around with your mouth, there are no guarantees. I'm angry with myself for letting so much time go between dental appointments, I'm furious with the dentist who let me go for two months with a broken tooth, and I feel scarred from this appointment even though he probably did a decent job. To be fair to him, I'm not in as much pain as I thought I would be, but again, that could be coming. I will say that the office was clean, and that was a relief. I know that some endodontists use things over, I wanted to ask if he was going to do that, this is a money saving step, but by the time I thought of it, he was already in my mouth.
Periodically I have experiences that strengthen my resolve. This could have been one of them, on my drive home I thought about ways to eat healthier, exercise more, manage my money better, but at the grocery store I caved and bought comfort foods. So much for that burst of initiative and inspiration I thought. Things could be worse. I'm really glad that instead of trying to be tough and repress what I was feeling and thinking, I actually said it. He was legit shocked when I opened my mouth, I can't imagine that's an experience he has very often, and I probably had him wondering if I was going to come at him with some sort of malpractice suit, or other horrible career setback type thing. His robot assistant sat there as if I had been discussing the weather or another benign conversational topic, I will never sit in another room with her again, and if by chance I need another root canal, and go back to him, I will tell him that she is not part of the deal, and if that's a deal breaker for him, so be it. Medication is still seeping out of the tissues and every bitter swallow takes me back to the first encounter. Tomorrow I have the day off, and I feel like I am stuck in a human hamster wheel where the only thing to do is keep moving. God was with me, I said many a prayer and scripture verse during my time in the chair, but I also had some very uncharitable feelings for people today.
My youngest came home and announced that she was going to take a nap. She's still coughing despite the antibiotics and that's upsetting. This is what I hate about being single. Everything seems overwhelming and beyond me, even simple things like basic housework, buying groceries, etc..., it feels like I can't go on anymore, but of course I can, and will. I need a vacation, but can't seem to make myself take one. Ditto for the new job opportunity. It feels as if my life is slipping away one day at a time and I picture myself being even more alone than I am right now years, decades from now; wrinkled, demented, and confused. These are catastrophic thoughts, and I make an effort to focus on cheerier subjects like the fact that I have this money in savings, and I had a very good day as far as sales went yesterday. I met my goal and exceeded it, something that seemed daunting and impossible when I walked into the store yesterday. It was a strange day in some ways. I had a store full of people and it was just me, but the flip side of that is I got all of those sales, and most people were buying which was nice. I will mention that I went to some pretty extraordinary lengths to help out a couple that did not appreciate my efforts, and I need to let that go. Sometimes expertise is overlooked because what someone else did was so beyond you it looked much easier than it actually was. They weren't fans of me, but I don't know anyone who could have won them over, and I stopped trying after I heard their whispered comments. Screw that.
Going to try and get to bed early tonight, can bad days lead to good dreams? I'll have to let you know...
P.S. Brush, floss, rinse... :)