Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Just Can't Handle The Tooth

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.

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.



theminx said...

So basically, you had to wait so long just for a consultation? :(


froggy said...

Consider yourself hugged!!

Beth said...

You're right...that's screwed up. I hope you can get in soon and get it taken care of.

Miss Ginger Grant said...

I hope you'll allow me a bit of a blogjack!

First, I am SO thrilled that you are going to get this taken care of that I will refrain from doing my Debbie Reynolds' "I told you so" dance from W&G. Not that you don't deserve it- but that's the kind of sister I am! And you know what a stickler I am for oral hygiene!

Secondly, I, too, am thrilled that New York has such a clinic, and even more thrilled that it is funded (at least partly), by the state. Here in Texas, Legacy is funded by drag queens and golf tournaments, and anything else we can think of to raise money.

And thirdly, you are SO RIGHT about our fucked up health care system! When Legacy, a primary provider of HIV/AIDS care to the Houston community, moves into it's new building in September, it will have a dental clinic- a completely new service for Legacy. BUT, if you have HIV/AIDS, you can't use the new clinic, because you are required to go to the Bering Omega dental clinic in order to receive reimbursed services. But if you DON'T have HIV/AIDS- don't go to Bering; they can't treat you. At least Legacy will be providing an option for many people, but why the hell do we need 2 sets of facilities, foundations, employees, etc, when we could do it all in one place!

Now you got my dander up! Thanks for the distraction!

designing wally said...

Good of you to separate the people from the system...


When you fainted, you managed not to spill your drink, right?

Wonder Man said...

OMG, I hope you will be okay. I actually like the cleaning, it's therapeutic

mrs. miss alaineus said...

i can't go to the dentist without being sedated (and that's for the service, i need another pill entirely to be able to open the bill. you, and miss g are both SO RIGHT! this is a perfect example of how national health care needs to include dental and how a better plan could allocate resources better so that EVERYONE'S NEEDS could be served, regardless of status-

dont give up on trying to get in sooner and you are right, it's not the provider that makes it so hard, it's the damn system.


Sam said...

Sis. pull six teeth? And you stayed there in the seat? What, the teeth arent salvageable? Hell I would have got ghost up in that bitch. Anyho. Well I take care of my teeth because I'm t e r r I f I e d of the damn dentist. I have dental insurance and still avoid the hos.
Don't get me started on the health coverage in America. #9 and I have stories.
Just thankful you are doing something about it.
Love. Your much younger and prettier Sis

mistress maddie said...

Noe see was that bad??????? And I had the pero cleaning done before, the 1/4 deep clean. No biggie, they numb you. But it is time consuming so they do it in four parts. A wire goes under your gums to air them out and germ free. Just sit your ass there and fantasize about Frankie G!

Benj said...

Dental services in the US are abyssmal unfortunately, and un/underinsured people generally get the shaft.

Callen-Lourde does amazing work, but the demand is so high because other providers and systems just blow

I've got a friend in the health department's bureau of dental health -- I'll see what i can find out. I'll also check with my peeps in the institute to see if there are other programs that you can access. It's a small-ass program so it may pull up a big fat NADA (and if NYC DOHMH has separate jurisdiction, well then i'm f^cked).

But the four cleanings aren't bad - they numb ya down, get out the chisel and go to town, your gums will be sore for a bit (excuse to eat ICE CREAM!!!) but no harm no foul.

David Dust said...

Dearest DustBunny Benj -

I am willing to accept any/all information/help/advice/Arby's Roast Beef/etc...

Email me at daviddustbunny@gmail.com (it goes right to my phone) if you find out anything.



Joy said...

I'm so glad you're doing this. Is there any way to avoid having your teeth pulled? I have a lot of crowns and know they're expensive, but see if you can have something done to keep from having false teeth or bridges. From what I hear, they are a pain to deal with.

Floss, brush, and use a water pik! Please take care of your teeth. So glad you have access to these services!!!!! xoxoxoxoxxo

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