Monday, July 9, 2012


My 9 Honors class reads The Sky is Gray by Ernest Gaines. It is the story of a young black boy that has a bad toothache. His family is poor and the setting is during the shade of time when desegregation laws have passed, but were not especially being followed- especially in the South, where the story takes place. Of course, being a notable peice of literature, there is a lot more going on behind the tangible plot. It is a story that uses a lot of color symbolism to comment on racial issues and attitudes during this transitioning time in American history. The dentist and his nurse, wearing all white and being the only prominent white characters in the story, are the only ones that can bring relief to James's pain. However, they also create many obstacles which James must endure and overcome to experince that relief.

Today, I had a dentist appointment. When I think of a dentist though, I don't imagine the sterile guy behind a mask wearing all white and weilding a drill. No, instead I think of this...

It's been well over a year since I have been to the dentist (but not more than 2 years). I had found a practice that I liked. The office was fun. The staff was nice. There was this whole beach island theme going on, from the office furniture to the Hawaiin shirts worn by staff. You're not going to trick me into thinking that going to the dentist is paradise, or anything akin to a vacation though. No, me at the dentist is...

What led to this most recent leave of absence in dental care, because I won't pretend it was my first, was that it had just gotten too dang painful to keep going. Every single time I went there was something more that needed to be done. And in the past, while I had been numbed with Novacaine and had no problems, it had come to the point that I could get no relief from the pain... and I would be in pain for days afterward. This wasn't "Back Alley Dentistry." I had health insurance and was pretty regular about my appointments, yet the experience kept getting worse and worse. The final straw for me was that the dentist just wouldn't explain what he was doing to me. He would give me a shot of "something else" to help the Novacaine work, which was even MORE painful, but was flippant about explaining to me what it was and what he was doing. So, I found myself cancelling appointments, and then just not rescheduling them.

However, I have a goal to "Get Better" about my healthcare this summer, so I scheduled a check-up and cleaning with a NEW dentist.


It went really well. As soon as the dentist walked in the room, he recognized me as one of his son's English teachers. (I had not known this in advance.) Then, in that romanticized small town way we discussed my family, his family, and I found out a ton of history about our house from the dental hygeinist. I didn't feel judged poorly for neglecting my dental care and he thought things looked pretty good, without yet having my xrays from the previous dentist to review... which is interesting since I still had a list of dental "issues" from the previous doc to resolve.Yes, I realize they may be more obvious on the xray, but if they were THAT bad, shouldn't SOMETHING have been evident upon visual exam if neglected for two years?

I'm not going to dwell on the questionable practice of the previous dentist and just focus on the good feeling I have about the new office.

As the song says, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have... The Facts of Life." The dentist- good. The other issue I'm dealing with right now- bad.

After waiting nearly a week, I guess because of the July 4th holiday, I was able to get in to see my family doc about 4 painful cysts under my left arm last Friday. He diagnosed it as folliculitis. Yeah, go ahead... Google it. Because that little "ingrown hair" or "rash" nonsense they list is nothing compared to this searing pain. Yes, I know it's gross. I know my arm pits are not likely a reading matter to attract the masses to a blog. But, it's right now. It's my life. And it's painful. I am on a 10 day antibiotic... and realllly hoping I am not going to have to wait 10 days for relief. Some days have been fine. Some days have been bearable. Today has been Hellll. The only relief is to keep my arm in the air... but then my arm muscles are sore instead... and it's kind of beyond the point of that helping today. I am trying to endure it. Wait it out, only because I know the next steps would involve scalpels and drainage... and, yeah, well it's becoming a bit of dilemma to decide which is worse right now.

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