This morning I woke up with a throbbing pain in my molars. As I danced to Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts” and drank my morning coffee (as is my routine) I remarked that it had been a while since I’d seen a dentist. Sometime after I got to work the pain in my tooth got worse, and right before lunch I had a meeting to attend so I shoved a mint in my mouth, bit down, and broke my goddamn tooth in half. The top portion shattered like a faberge egg.
The dentist told me that I’d need two root canals and a crown. No sweat, I thought, I have dental insurance. They’ll cover it, right? Well not so fast, hombre! As it turns out, the insurance will only pay a portion of the work that needs to be done, leaving the remaining $700 dollars to be paid out of pocket. With my wife now taking furlows at her agency, and still paying off the car we just bought, this is a huge chunk of cash for us right now. Granted, we have the credit to pay for it, but we’ve spent the past year paying down our credit debt and it seems like such a waste to ratchet it back up so easily. Better consult the wife, I thought.
She didn’t take the news so well. In fact, as I sat reclined in the dentist’s chair, the assistant hovering over me with a contract to sign, my wife asked if there was anything I could do to avoid it. Like what? I asked, but she didn’t answer. She told me she would call me right back. Left to make my own decisions (I’m a big boy!) I reasoned that I don’t need a tooth to be happy and that I could probably just fight the pain if I ate nothing but Otter Pops for the rest of my life.
“You’re going home?” She asked.
“Damn right,” I responded, pulling the dam from my chest.
“Let me at least try to see if there’s some other way we can finance this.”
We haggled over the cost like a couple of old women at a Turkish street market. She insisted that I would need to have the tooth fixed immediately, and I asked if they could simply rip the damn thing out of my face and save me a couple bucks. At this point my cell phone started ringing, and in the midst of our heated discussion I couldn’t answer. Then it rang again. And again. And again. The assistant insisted that to pull this tooth would be a big mistake. As evidence, she retrieved my x-rays.
“The roots of this tooth are still very strong, as you can see.” She said, pointing to a portion of white beneath the chicklet nub that remained.”It would be a real waste to rip that out when it’s in such good shape.”
I found this an odd point to make, considering how little the root of the tooth matters when the actual visible portion sticking out of the gums looks like a fucking kidney stone.
And then my phone rang again. “I can’t afford it,” I told the assistant. “If I have to incur one more cost this month I’ll flip out.” And rang again.
“Let me get you a prescription for some pain medicine and some antibiotics at least,” she responded. Now we’re fucking talking! And that’s when I got a text message from my wife: I WAS JUST IN A CAR ACCIDENT
It started out as mumbling. A kind of pathetic, wimpering language that midgets might have used to communicate during the stone age. I pulled at some of my hair, looked around in desperation, and tried communicating to the lady at the front desk as she repeated “Is everything okay, sir?” All I could speak were syllables. “Sir? What’s wrong?” She asked as I handed her my I.D.
“I’m not running away” I told her. At the time this made sense.
I called my wife back, and between her sobbing uncontrollably and my pained, mumbling confusion she relayed that she had been pulling out of our parking lot (in the new car), not paying attention, and smashed into the side of some poor cleaning woman who couldn’t speak a word of English when they tried exchanging information.
“Is the car…uh…uh…are you okay?” I asked.
“Ya-ya-ya-ya…yeah” she answered.
“Muh-muh-muh mah gums hurt” I said.
“The ca-ca-ca-car is smashed up.”
Thankfully she wasn’t injured, although incredible shaken up. We’re trying to figure out how to A) get to work tomorrow and B) how to fix this tooth. I have what’s essentially a piece of candy corn sticking out of a stinky hole in my gums that hurts like hell. Thank god for cheap generic vicodin. But even beneath its warm embrace I can still feel the exposed nerves writhing in the open air. They make high-pitched metallic noises, turning in various positions like antennaes seeking a television signal. Need dental repair, have no fucking money.
I am glad, however, that as I work my ass off in order to not afford to get this tooth fixed that a portion of my income will be taken from my paycheck and handed to the lazy moochers on Medicaid, who will repay the favor in kind by arguing against my right to have affordable medical care. If there’s a better reason to euthanize these old buzzards I haven’t heard it.
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring.