The Adverse Effects of Healthcare in the U.S.

So, turning 39 was sublime…until I fractured my tooth exactly two months to the day (that’s right on December 12) after going to the doctors’ office for my first illness of the year (back on October 12). This was all due to informing him that I was experiencing some of the worst pain I have ever endured (more so, than when I was severely injured on a motorbike near the end of the Earths’ axis in Indonesia) …all due to what was spectacled as a rogue sinus infection, that led to my first ever excruciating toothache.

Well after a week of enduring what felt like lava flowing between my teeth & gums (on the left side of my face and behind my ear) that simultaneously sent what felt like sporadic electrical shock waves to my brain, immobilizing me for long periods of time that stemmed from a virus I contracted from my Daddy of all people (bless his heart). I was simply prescribed a seven day supply of Amoxicillin and sent on my way, even after having described what I thought was the first sign of something fatal due to the amount of anguish I was suffering from at the time. Did I mention that the Physician Assistant on duty didn’t even look at my teeth, just had me open my mouth and stick out my tongue so that I could say “ahh” as we’ve all been instructed to do at some point in our lives.

Fast forward to the night of December 12, when I found myself extra greedy…and after having finished off a small serving of greek yogurt I then got a little too bougie and decided to pour a fair amount of Juanita’s Tortilla Chips into one of my metal mixing bowls and turned on the oven for a bit, before settling back into the documentary that had captivated me at the time.

After settling back into my comfy spot on the couch with my warm bowl of delights, I found myself half way through the pile of chips and the next thing I knew I felt and heard a snap that didn’t feel anything like a chip. It was at that moment that I immediately knew something horrible had happened. But, surprisingly I felt NO PAIN. Oh and my tongue confirmed my worst fears when I was able to wiggle what was suppose to have been an intact tooth.

After staying up all night (because I was afraid of swallowing a tooth that was somehow still fully connected to my gums – look here the mind wonders causing all types of panic) I left out at the crack of dawn driving all over town, in addition to placing serval exasperated phone calls to various clinics and governmental agencies. Thankfully, I finally secured an appointment with an oral surgeon that could see me sooner rather than later. Because, sadly my form of insurance isn’t widely accepted and one of the providers (out of the four options I was provided) on the list couldn’t even see me until %*#@’ing February. The other two might as well had been on the moon, given their location from my home – in opposite directions no less. Leaving me with the possibility of contacting the final one on the list. Being that it is a charity/non-profit, they were only going to be able to perform the extraction and then I would have to go to another dental clinic in order to have them make something for me to wear called a “flipper“.

Now keep in mind, whilst all of this is going on the Dentist (the two I saw the day after the incident due to driving up their offices and sitting patiently for hours until they had a free slot) complemented me endlessly on how amazing my ‘bone structure’ (i.e. teeth) is, whilst questioning me over and over again about if I had ever worn braces along with if I had ever bleached my teeth; which is a firm no. Well other than me using Crest Whitestrips back in 2007 for a total of three days. I ultimately stopped using them, because they made my teeth feel odd.

Any who, I ended biting the preverbal bullet because I was afraid that if I indeed waited two more months before being seen again (by the surgeon my family members have seen within a normal driving range) that an infection might set in or that the pain I had yet to feel would come raging forth like a Polled Beefmaster defending his territory amongst a heard of docile Brahma bulls. And thankfully, this trusted and highly recommended oral surgeon that ‘did the do’ as they say, wasn’t able to accept my insurance for this necessary procedure.
A place I never thought I would see…given my dental history.
Taken an hour and a half after having oral surgery performed on a fractured tooth. No swelling or pain at the site of the extraction other than it itching like mad; which is a sign of histamines in action.
 That being said, today I find myself being told that everything is healing nicely (keep in mind that I wasn’t even sent home with any gauze or packing at the site of the extraction) and rather than me having to wait the typical six months before my Dentist is able to install the crown (i.e. permeant fake tooth). I will be able to come back in three months for all of that; which wasn’t included in this bill. Oh and did I mention that I have yet to endure any pain (PRAISE IT). Well, except for at the second injection site in the roof of my mouth and along the left side of my nose leading up to the top of my eyebrow; due to opting for local anesthesia because I had to drive myself home after the procedure.
Will my smile ever be the same?!

 All in all, my once full smile is missing a key player…good ol’ tooth number 13. Oh and all hopes of graduate school are waning with the frigid winds of winter, given that I’m expecting to be charged an additional $1,200+ for the remainder of the procedure in mid-March.

Lastly, I can’t THANK my parents enough for all of their support because they refused to let me walk around like a toothless wonder; which would have been the case if I had gone through with the appointment I had made with the aid of that generous non-profit agency, that was only able to perform one step of the procedure. Which ultimately, would have resulted in me having to locate another oral surgeon at a later date. Only to have him or her cut open my healed gum tissue and then insert the lovely metal probe (acting as my new root stem) seen in the featured picture of this article at an unbeknownst time in the future.

So, what did this extraction and implant prep cost you might ask…
“Sock it to me” and leave my dreams of having been accepted into two graduate schools abroad to squalor in the dust of what might have been…

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