It’s embarrassing for me to turn a recap of my “Tooth Drama” into a blog post, but that's all I got right now. Surely you have your own problems and don’t need to hear about mine - so hit “DELETE” if you know what’s good for you. And don’t say I didn’t warn you...
FYI: Doing the “bullet points” thing - too frustrated/exhausted for paragraphs:
- Been having toothaches for some time now - one tooth in particular. Three months ago the pain got REALLY bad, so I investigated my dental care options.
- Don’t have employer-provided dental insurance - and cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. But due to my HIV status I can receive dental care at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center (an LGBT-focused health care facility).
- Called Callen-Lorde for a dental appointment. Was told the next available opening was in three months (!) - but I made the appointment anyway due to lack of alternatives.
- In the meantime, my primary care doctor prescribed antibiotics to keep the pain-causing tooth infection under control while I waited for my appointment.
- 2 ½ months pass by. Now the antibiotics aren’t working like they used to so I’m forced to use Vicodin (leftover from my bout of Shingles) to help relieve the pain. But my appointment was coming up soon, so I tough it out.
- FINALLY, appointment day arrives (yesterday). I go to Callen-Lorde, fill out a bunch of documents, and head up to the Dental Clinic.
- They take x-rays and then the Dentist examines me in order to create a plan of treatment. An “Oral Action Plan”, as it were.
- Treatment Plan Step #1: extensive cleaning. This will take FOUR appointments (they can only do ¼ of my mouth at a time). Removing twenty years of tartar buildup takes some elbow-grease, apparently.
- Treatment Plan Step #2: pulling SIX (!!!!) teeth. Upon hearing this, I pass out onto a nearby fainting couch - but manage to remain looking FABULOUS while doing so:
Light Blue really is my color
- After steps 1 and 2 are completed, then we’ll deal with mundane things like cavities, etc.
- ME: OK Doctor, when can we get started??
- Doc: Next available appointment is in August. You can have your four cleanings then.
- ME: OK, but what about this painful tooth???
- Doc: You’ll need to call for an “Emergency Appointment” - otherwise you could make a regular appointment for August. But you really should have it taken care of before then, so you must call for an Emergency Appointment.
- Me: Can’t YOU just make me an “Emergency Appointment”, since this is … um … kind of ... um ... an “emergency”???
- Doc: No. You have to call every morning at 8:00 pm. If the stars are aligned correctly, there is a Dentist available that day, and you are the first to get through - then you get an appointment. Then you must call your boss and tell him you can’t work that day because you have an “emergency”. Even though it’s an “emergency” we’ve known about for months.
- Me: WTFLOLOMGFML*&%!(*#$BRBJK
So there you have it. After 3 months of consistent tooth pain I’m happy to report that my teeth will be getting CLEANED. In August.
NOTE: I realize that the nor-for-profit Callen-Lorde clinic is doing the absolute best they can with the limited resources available. And the Dentist was apologetic (and even a little embarrassed) when answering my questions. So I certainly don’t blame them - if anything, I’m thankful to live in a city with a clinic like Callen-Lorde. And I’m also thankful that New York State provides funding for me to receive dental care. Although I had to acquire a deadly disease in order to receive this care. Which is kind of messed up, AMIRITE??
Anywhore, I guess this is yet another example of how truly screwed up the health care “system” in this country really is.