5.19.2010

Putting the HA in oral HAygiene...nope. That didn't work.

(Note to self: Stop writing blog titles at 6 o'clock in the morning when I haven't been to sleep yet. I don't even know what day it is anymore...But I do know that I can feel my T-cells and I'm stealing Internet from a neighbor named "TheSituation." ANYWAY! Hi, just to reiterate quickly: GREEN = TULANE CHRIS. Not Ex Co-Blogger Chris. From now on. Are we cool? Cool. See you all tomorrow.)

I always operate in a weird time place when I write for this blog. Since my internet access is occasional at best, I write at home in the middle of the night when I have energy, wait until I have two or three post, and then when I’m at the office I email them to
Meg to place as she sees fit. So, when I say “today, I went to the dentist and it ruined my entire day,” I mean Monday, May 17th was ruined, so hopefully by the time you read this I’ll be over the dentist and pissed off about something else.

In among the tampon samples and letters from my grandmother, our mail regularly includes something called the Money Mailer, which is an overly optimistic name for an envelope full of coupons. The coupons are seldom tempting. Aside from the discount Botox I mentioned before, the coupons fall into three classes:

Our Already Low Prices – Not a coupon, but a flyer, usually for an Asian restaurant of the Empress’ Jade Garden Gate variety.

We Know You Won’t Use It – Coupons for tiny savings that most people will feel uncomfortable using. 85 cents off an oil change if you wear red on a Tuesday, etc.

…What? – Coupons for actual saving on bizarre products. An alarming percentage of these are for cosmetic procedures, especially “free evaluations.” A coupon good for one “being called ugly.” PASS.

There’s also always a coupon for Johnny Rocket’s, which I won’t visit on principle. They make those poor waiters croon. Anyway, in among this crap last time, there was also a coupon for a discounted dental cleaning. Well, yee-ha. Ordinarily I would never, ever do such a thing, but I needed my teeth cleaned. Besides, the flyer said “Holistic/Natural Dentistry,” so I thought maybe they were hippie dentists and I’d get a blog post out of it.

The front window of the dentist’s office had a carousel horse in it, and I almost turned around and went home. I don’t agree with making doctors’ offices nice for children. You sit around in a nice, cozy room, looking at fish and reading Highlights for Kids (as a child I assumed there was a Highlights for Adults and was very eager to graduate to it), and get all calm. Then, the nurse gets you and takes you back and gives you a shot or whatever, and it’s a total shock. You know how if you put fish immediately in the tank they die from the temperature shock, so you have to put them in the tank still in the bag from the store and let them acclimate? Waiting rooms should be ominous so they serve the same function as the bag and it’s not as traumatic.

I went in anyway, and got my forms. Those forms are so invasive. I don’t think they need to know my work phone number. Are they going to call in for me if I die? “This is Dr. Scrivello’s office. Chris won’t be in, ever again. We’re supposed to tell…Brendan? Brandon? Brenda, maybe? that he loves him, we thought maybe that was a work thing?” I also don’t think they need to know if I have any mental illness. If I’m sane enough to make an appointment and show up, that should be good enough for them.

I give them my forms and get called, and I go on back to the room. The first thing I see is a chart of What Might Happen if You Don’t Brush Enough. One of the options is “Surgery” and features a big old picture of an incised gum, bleeding away, just as big as life. WHY? I’m already here. I don’t need to be frightened into coming to the dentist. If they stood outside with a sandwich board and flyers, like Jehovah’s Witnesses at the bus stop, it would make a certain amount of sense – it would be awful, but it would make sense.

The hygienist tried to make small talk with me about hockey, which was a dud. For me, hockey is the low-scoring boredom of soccer, but with dressed and padded Canadian men instead of shorts-clad Brazilian men. Fail. The dentist tried to make small talk with me on account of we both have red hair, which was a dud. “Oh, you sunburn easily too?”

Prodding and scolding commenced. Yes, I know I have four years’ worth of plaque built up, which has a lot to do with not having had dental insurance for four years. Who the hell did you think would show up at the dentist’s office with a coupon? So, after showing me another diagram about what happens to your teeth, they upsold me into getting something called a “gross debridement,” which annoyed me. I’m an adult. If you need to scrape crap out of my gums with a sharp hook that squirts water, tell me. I can take it, and I think $300 should buy me a little straight talk. I would much rather hear “water-hook crap-scrape” than “gross debridement,” which my friend Kathryn said “sounded like a wedding night mishap.”

So, the hygienist is scraping away with bolt cutters and chain mail and all those damn tools, and I’m watching a generic action movie on a TV they’ve thoughtfully placed where the patients can see it. It was one of those nineties movies where Nicolas Cage is a retired dyslexic air marshal turned senator who gets caught up in a conspiracy and It Turns Out The President Is Involved, and there’s a shootout near a national monument. Shit’s blowing up, people are running…

“Does that hurt?”

“Mrrg.” Yes, it hurts, you’re scraping crap out of my gums with a hook that shoots water, but get it over with so the crap will be out of my gums.

“Yeah, this is a little inflamed. See, it’s bleeding,” and she SHOWS ME THE BLOODY HOOK.

“Mrrg.” Thank God her other hand was still in my mouth so all I could do was grunt, because I don’t know what I would have said. I’ve seen blood and I’ve seen hooks, I could have done the math myself. Surgeons don’t do this. You don’t go in for a follow-up and they slap your gall bladder on the counter like a steak on a grill and say, “Yeah, this was pretty fucked up. Here, feel this cyst.”

So, in the wake of Bloodhook, I start remembering a scary story I’d read in a collection literally two days before. A man went to the dentist who numbed his face and kept doing stuff, and eventually it turns out it wasn’t the dentist but a lunatic who horribly disfigured him while he couldn’t feel it.

“…Mrrg?”

“Actually, your teeth look pretty good.” She clearly thought I did not deserve to have teeth that looked good. She finished up, and tried to sell me mouthwash and a waterpik.

“This mouthwash is herbal. Do you like herbs?”

Do I like herbs? If I said no, I sounded like a liar – who really has a beef with herbs? – but if I said yes I’d be out $40 for Chervil/Tarragon Mouthwash. I mumbled something, and looked at the paper she was handing me, which was about how nutrition affects the teeth and gums, with a checklist of what nutrients you might need. They didn’t check any off for me, but I noticed that one option you could check was “Colon Cleanse.” Oh, I’m sorry. You think it’s possible that I am so constipated, so full of feces that it’s affecting my oral health? (This, of course, reminded me of Meg’s Colon Cleanse gift.) Is this the default assumption now? “Honestly, Tulane Chris, we don’t know what the problem is. Why don’t you go home and defecate as much as you can and see if that clears it up?” Is this just going to be happening from now on? IS the pharmacist going to stop giving me ADHD medicine and give me FiberCon instead, because “no one can concentrate with an uncleansed colon?” If I travel abroad, before reentry will I have to wait a day at the airport and cleanse my colon of any potential enemies, foreign or domestic? Are they going to redo all the old “Popeye” cartoons now, so that instead of spinach making his muscles grow it makes him have regular, satisfying, evil-thwarting bowel movements?

I went out to the front, where the dentist said, “How did your cleaning go?” I said, “Oh, it was just fine,” like an android, and then the dentist and hygienist proceeded to talk about “pocketing” and schedule me for a follow-up, which is the ultimate humiliation. Nice people don’t have to go to follow-ups at the dentist because they brush and floss and pray and sweep and cleanse their colons. I felt like I disgusted them.

Anyway. I’d love to write more but I have to brush, floss, and rinse my teeth. Then I’m going to turn off my cell phone, lock the door, and take a double dose of Colon Cleanse. By tomorrow, all my troubles will be far away – or at least in the Schuylkill River.

27 comments:

Harriet Olivia said...

'I’ve seen blood and I’ve seen hooks, I could have done the math myself. Surgeons don’t do this. You don’t go in for a follow-up and they slap your gall bladder on the counter like a steak on a grill and say, “Yeah, this was pretty fucked up. Here, feel this cyst.”'

Hahahahahaha. This whole post may be your best work yet. Please continue to use coupons for all your medical needs, if it means more bodily function hilarity.

I hate the dentist upsell. Mine always starts procedures and a minute in goes, "Oh, this is much better than the NHS version, which we do with a hammer, chisel and no anaesthetic. And doesn't work anyway. So what I'm doing now is…"

And I squeak and try to say, "No! I'm poor! NHS-only freebie Medieval treatments for me!"

And he continues what he's doing and then says, IN THE TINIEST VOICE IMAGINABLE, "This is [TINY TINY VOICE] £95 a minute [BACK TO NORMAL VOICE] and we do it with sunshine and rainbows and make your teeth the healthiest sparkliest evah!!"

You actually have to rip his hand out of your mouth to yell, "No! NHS HAMMERS!" and really, who wants to rip the scalpel-wielding hand of a madman from their own mouth whilst provoking him by denying him cash?

Anonymous said...

I used to have very red hair when I was in college (it's gotten browner as the years have gone by) and I would always get people who wanted to have me meet someone else (usually a girl) because WOHMG YOU BOTH HAVE RED HAIR! And yes, other than sunburn, the only other thing I could ever find to commiserate with them on was "Aren't you glad you didn't get that freckle explosion on your face version of red hair?"

And, to be fair, I'm very glad I avoided that.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you need to start putting all of your coupons to such good use!

maria said...

maybe it's because I just graduated college last week, but this post terrified me about the state of my body when I won't be able to depend on my parents to pay for things they deem vitally important but that I won't be able to afford without fasting for a month just to have the extra cash lying around. :| maybe I should start flossing.

Hails said...

the colon cleanse part almost killed me this early in the morning. Pure comedy gold.

also, hand to god, I've been flossing 1-2 times a day and it DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE, IT'S NOT ALL BULLSHIT haha

terri said...

this is off subject today, but this text from last night made me think of you meg

(562): not only did i soak my thesis by spilling celebratory shots on it, but i also stained it with lipstick making it obvious i tried to drink the vodka off it......dgaf, worth it.

Sorr about the lipstick.

PS Chris, you're varsity all the way. JV? pfff

Mallory said...

I also dislike the dentist more than words can express, but I thought this was slightly apropos and mildly entertaining:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/7738684/Britons-vote-for-the-iPhone-as-most-important-invention-ahead-of-flushing-loo-and-space-travel.html

The Brits rank the iphone 8th as most important inventions of all time...the toothbrush: 33rd.

Clearly someone has their priorities straight.

Stephanie said...

#1. Whoever the anonymous asshole was on yesterday's post, they are totally wrong. Tulane Chris is varsity funny. No doubt about it.

#2. I laughed my face off all the way through this post. I can't even pick a favorite part. Thanks!!

#3. about the survey Mallory just mentioned... I heard that on NPR this morning. My reaction was a little different though... it was more like "Are you freaking kidding me?" I’m sure the iPhone is super nice & all, but I’ve got 2 words for you: chamber pots. Wait, 2 more: out houses. Here, have 3: THE BLACK PLAGUE. Given the choice between the “convenience” of an iPhone and the “convenience” of indoor plumbing, 10 times out of 10 I would flush the iPhone.

Meg said...

I giggled uncontrollably through this whole post. Lordy, I hate the dentist -- and they usually make me feel like crap when I go in, too.

Once, a dental hygienist -- or however the hell you spell that, I'm too lazy to Google it -- looked me square in the eye and said, "So, do you brush?"

DO I BRUSH? DO I BRUSH? Lady, I'm 24 freakin' years old. I brush twice a day like every other well-adjusted adult who doesn't want to terrify significant others and friends with their disgusting, unhealthy breath and food-infested teeth. In fact, I'd say I'm almost obsessive about oral cleanliness. (That sounds dirty. But go with me.)

I was so insulted by her bad attitude and terrible questions, I vowed not to go back.

...Until, you know, six months later. My teeth need cleanin', after all, and my whole chart or whatever is already there. So. You know.

emily said...

lolzy lolzy lol. haven't had a stifling-laughter-while-trying-to-eat-at-my-desk day in a while. gracias!

and while i totes hate the dentist as much as the next guy (try having dental work done with TMJ, SO NOT FUN!) i have found a totally awesome dentist who i will now shamelessly recommend to all of you near the springfield area: dr. neil at northern virginia dental associates totally rocks! :)

Anonymous said...

The same money mailer had a coupon for a $99 pair of eyeglasses, and since I've spend the last six months reading by looking OVER my glasses and holding the book an inch from my face...

I'm still seething about the JV thing. JV is the kind of joke I would make, which is why it irks me - I'm being attacked with my own schtick. Also, I'm not "legit?" Buddy, it's a blog, not the bar association. My credentials are that I can type reasonably coherent English. Legit yourself.

TC

nora wallis said...

I also appreciated the Little Shop reference. A+

Lisa said...

This post deserves a slow clap. I know you won't see this comment for days, maybe years, and you'll never reply, but this one made me laugh so hard I feel like I got an ab workout... so thank you.

Love in the Dumps said...

can you guys make your font bigger??

Anonymous said...

Lisa-

GOTCHA.

Thanks!

TC

Helena said...

OMG. We are dental hell twins. I went for the first time in 5 years a couple of weeks ago! I'm a bajillion dollars poorer and have a prescription for flouride toothpaste that I'm afraid to fill because a) I think it'll taste bad and b) I have no more money. I also don't want to go back to him because he wants to x-ray me every 6 months even though it's not covered. Asshole.

Anonymous said...

I will say this - I'm less annoyed at dentist prices than other high prices, because a woman did have to scrape blood, etc. off my teeth with a hook. I felt bad for her. Worse for myself, but bad for her.

I just used the SPECIAL mouthwash they gave me and now my molars are throbbing.

I notice I get the best reactions to posts about the human body. I'm saving genitals for when we're up for an award, but maybe I need to concentrate more on organ systems in general.

TC

Anonymous said...

need font bigger? on a PC? 'control' + '+' (in firefox & chrome anyway)

control - makes it small again

Anonymous said...

To make font smaller in internet explorer just go to "page" and then "zoom" and select the size you want.

Anonymous said...

Are we talking a full-blown colon cleanse, or "hey the Kardashians endorse this colon cleanse so it MUST be good" colon cleanse?

Kristen said...

I went to the dentist just yesterday to get fillings done. I had never had fillings done by this dentist before, but from how he described what it would be like, I figured it would be no different than all the other times I had had fillings.

It was... mostly. Numbed me up, drilled, filled, and that was it. I was told that I'd be numb for the next two to three hours.

SEVEN HOURS LATER I was still numb. I finally gave up and went to bed, hoping I wouldn't wake up permanently disfigured. Luckily I was back to normal this morning, but I'm now fearing my second appointment next week to fix even more cavities...

LW said...

Dude...I bet you dont need any of that stuff. All dentists do these days is upsell. Its getting worse than auto mechanics because you dont know enough/cant see shit to know if they're lying. I don't trust any of them!

cosmetic surgeon said...

Great detailed information, I ll be visiting you more frequently, this is very interesting information

rhealyn said...

jeez! i can't help but laugh! this is really pretty cool and nice write up thought!

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