I Love My Doctor!
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Separation.
I love my doctor. Oh, not that way. Besides, I donâ€™t go for teddybear types, no matter how sweet.
Good surprises are really nice every now and then, and today Â was Â one of them. Iâ€™d gone to Dr. Z, fully expecting to leave with much less of a tooth, a much lighter purse, and the considerable physical and fiscal pain that accompanies getting a porcelain crown. I came home gleefully intact.
Itâ€™s a strange story and, had I not changed dentists a couple of Â years ago, Iâ€™ll bet the ending wouldnâ€™t have been nearly so happy. But it goes back a few years, back to January of
During the time I was desperately trying to hold onto my Â marriage, I was on Ambien, a sleeping pill, for about six weeks, Â andÂ Â Effexor, Â an Â anti-depressant, Â for Â around Â three months, then almost as long weaning myself from that damnable little jewel, one Effexor â€œbeebeeâ€ at a time, two or three if I was daring and willing to endure the Â weird brain-zaps. I took myself off of the Effexor because I realized anti-depressants just kept me from feeling anything at all when what I needed to do was change my situation to something that didnâ€™t feel bad. Feel- ing is goodâ€”Iâ€™m gonna have a T-shirt made that says that! I had to stop giving up my dreams to please other people and committing the suicide of my personality. Anti-depressants made me more compliant when what I really needed was to learn to kick some ass.
I hated Effexor and how hard it was to endure the withdrawal symptoms (though technically they donâ€™t call it withdrawal because itâ€™s supposedly not addictive but it does give you a new set of weirdness when you stop taking it, especially if you quit cold turkey, which I couldnâ€™t do and function, too). But for as much as I didnâ€™t like being on it, I admit it was absolutely necessary at the time. Iâ€™d been without sleep for too many nights in a row, was too raw with emotion and hopelessness, was spending too much time on my front doorstep at 4 a.m., hugging my knees and sobbing while the rest of the hemisphere slept. The anti-depressant gave Â me a reprieve while I pulled myself together, got some sleep, and advanced to a better position (vs a retreat).
The drug has about 25 known side effects and I had them all except for the gastric ones, plus a few rarely reported ones and some exceedingly fffffffrrrrrrrrrustrating ones. Among the effects on me was Â clenching my jaws until they achedâ€”and even grinding my teeth. In spite Â of my emotional crisis, I had not been clenching my jaws until the drug kicked in. Odd, but as soon as I came off the drug, the clenching and grinding stopped, even though it was another year before I filed for divorce.
I was a little worried two months ago in December when a molar turned sensitive and grew steadily worse until I went to see Dr. Z several weeks ago. I called for a quickie, work-me-in appointment one morning after deciding maybe I could micro- wave my toothpaste so it wouldnâ€™t be so frigginâ€™ frigid. The receptionist asked which side and instead of saying â€œlower right,â€ I got distracted and said, â€œlower bottom,â€ and we laughed for several minutes about it.
My appointment went well, with an X-ray showing no cavities but the tooth being sensitive enough on one cusp that we figured it was Â cracked. Dr. Z didnâ€™t push for me to get it crowned right away, and he said I could live with it as is for as long Â as Â I Â wanted Â to. Â This Â week, Â I Â didnâ€™t Â want Â to Â anymore.
So today, I showed up, nervous, remembering my previous lunatic of a dentist and my very real fear that she was going to suffocate me while she filled a toothâ€”covering my nostrils and throat and while yelling at me, â€œIf youâ€™ll hold your breath another minute, Iâ€™ll be done!â€ Sorry, Â but Â breathplay and dentistry should never mix. Â Dr. Z fixed her messes and has never ever hurt me, but the memories are strong.
He numbed my jaw and as it took effect, I asked if he was numbing top and bottom. â€œUh, no, just the top,â€ his assistant said.
Uh-oh. I was there for a crown on the bottom molar. The top wasnâ€™t bothering me. My last dentist had convinced me to let her replace a filling in a tooth that wasnâ€™t bothering me, then the filling became an unexpected uh-weâ€™re-gonna-have-to- crown-this while I was in the chair. And if you think I wasnâ€™t happy about that….six months later, I had to have a root canal in a tooth that had been perfectly happy before she convinced me that â€œone day, itâ€™ll give you trouble so letâ€™s take care of it now.â€ My blood pressure probably shot up as the deja vu sank in.
But the receptionist had written down the right upper instead of lower. X-rays had been taken of the right upper in- stead of lower. Dr. Z had tested the right upper…and all along Iâ€™d thought he was looking at the lower.
As swamped as he was, he stopped everything to get an X-ray of Â the bottom tooth, which showed nothing. He tested the tooth, Â determining Â very, very quickly (at great risk to his health because my reflexes are quite good!) that yes, the bottom one did hurt. Hmmm. My former dentist (been there, done that) would Â have Â pressed Â for Â two Â crowns, Â but Â Dr. Â Zâ€”bless Â his heartâ€”weighed the oddsâ€”and suggested we not crown anything at this point but look at some other options. Like Â how rare it would be to have two molars cracked and hurting at the same time.
Apparently, my Â Roofer Â Hell Â triggered Â something Â that made me grind my teeth again. Geez, I wonder why! Itâ€™s the jaw clenching and grinding thatâ€™s most likely the culprit, so I left Dr. Zâ€™s office with a lovely new fashion accessory, a mouth guard, to wear for at night for the next two weeks at bedtime and feelingÂ Â veryÂ Â fortunateÂ Â atÂ Â notÂ Â facingÂ Â aÂ Â coupleÂ Â ofÂ Â crowns.
Not exactly the romantic option for Valentineâ€™s Day, but then, I havenâ€™t made any plans for that night anyway other than to wrap up alone Â in a blanket, crawl into the backyard ham- mock, and indulge myself in a little gazing at the full moon.