Hopefully you’re sitting down for this because it’s probably going to shock the Christmas Crocs off your feet, but I’m kind of neurotic. So when the great tooth incident happened last Friday, it…..it basically ruined all of my days. I mean, I pretty much had a Shakespearean tragedy written for it in my head.
I could barely even sleep. Especially that first night, it was like being in a waking nightmare, and the first thing I did when I woke up each time was jut my tongue over to The Tooth and then straight up wail when I realized it WASN’T A NIGHTMARE, IT WAS REAL LIFE.
Saturday night, Henry and I were in line at our neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts when someone tapped me on the arm and it turned out to be a guy I’ve known since like kindergarten (actually, the TWIN BROTHER of the boy who broke Mrs. Glumac’s glasses and called her a bitch, a story I’ve referenced over 100x times in my life because it was apparently super impactful for a fourth grader). When he asked me how I’ve been, the whiny word barrage of “WELL I’M GOING THROUGH THIS THING WITH MY TOOTH” was revving it’s engine and rearin’ to go but then I made brief eye contact with Henry and said, “I’ve been OK” instead.
That over-the-counter tooth putty stuff Henry got me was doing a good job of preventing my neuroses from shoving me over a cliff though. I mean, I still wasn’t chewing on that side of my mouth and was shying away from foods with a consistency harder than a fresh marshmallow, so basically I was on a diet for people with no teeth.
Then on Monday morning, New Dentist finally returned my call! Look, I am one of those super-phone-private people who refuses to take personal calls at her desk, but when I saw the Smiling Tooth pop up on my phone (I added a friendly cartoon tooth image to the contact for my dentist in my phone as a means to soften the blow) I snatched my phone off my desk and answered, “HELLO, YES THIS IS SHE” and then proceeded to ramble on psychotically about how I was basically over here on my last limb, please help. SOS. The lady was LAUGHING at me which was fine because she was able to squeeze me in on Thursday at 8:45 which was perfect since that’s my late shift day!
Still, I found Amber in the kitchen and blurted out, “I MIGHT BE LATE ON THURSDAY” and after I explained to her my latest tragedy (she wasn’t in the office on Friday and missed me when I was at my most hysterical; everyone deserves at least one reprieve from that, I guess), she was like, “Oh, you probably won’t be late” and I was like YOU DON’T KNOW HOW LONG IT’S GOING TO TAKE FOR THEM TO FIT ME FOR DENTURES OK.
Later that week, I remembered that when I initially called this new dentist in October to see if they were taking new patients, back when I had all of my teeth and not “almost all of my teeth plus one shell,” the receptionist told me to be sure I printed out the new patient forms found on their website and filled them out prior to my appointment. So on Wednesday, I tried to do this, but I couldn’t find the forms. Then, upon scrolling around, I also noted that I didn’t see the dentist (Dr. Hall) on their anywhere, either, it was just two other guys, and I thought that was weird since when I called last week, their answering machine message says “Thank you for calling the office of Dr. Hall” and the broad who called me back on Monday introduced herself as someone from Dr. Hall’s office.
I had to find their number in my phone and GOOGLE IT to find my actual dentist’s website, which was definitely not the one I was looking at earlier, or even last week when I was trying to get a better idea of where I needed to go. So basically, if I hadn’t needed to go to the website and print out those forms, I was about to show up at the completely wrong dental office on Thursday at 8:45, which was about a mile further away which doesn’t seem like a lot but it is when you’re walking, which is the whole reason I was trying to find a new dentist to begin with, because I wanted to be able to walk there if needed, since I don’t always have the car (#onecarfamily) and also because I accidentally missed my last appointment at my other dentists and felt like a jerk so I did what any other rational human would do and immediately look for a new one.
Don’t try to figure me out, OK. Just nod, pretend to understand, and let me go on my way.
Wednesday night was an emotional rollercoaster over here. I was in the throes of panic all night long (except for when I bought Winner tickets which was completely impulsive and we can thank my tooth hysteria for that, but seriously, thank you tooth hysteria, because I am so excited to see Winner!!!) and I slept FOR SHIT.
By the time I was showered and dressed for the appointment on Thursday, I thought I was going to have to go to the hospital.
I had chest pains and my body was wrought with the shakes. I was a fucking mess and started about 87 fights with Henry on the phone prior to even leaving the house.
The great part was that it took me less than 10 minutes to get to the dentist! I even left early because in case I couldn’t find it because Google maps made it look like it was somewhere off the main drag, but it was pretty much right in my face and I have no idea how I never noticed it because I have walked past it a thousand times.
Adrenaline kicked in at this point and I stormed into that place like I owned it.
The receptionist looked up and said, “Erin?” I nodded and blurted out, “I AM FREAKING OUT.” She wasn’t even trying to engage me and instead took my forms and told me to have a seat. She was very no-nonsense and I was mad because I needed coddled.
A few minutes later, she came into the waiting room with a very serious look on her face and said, “Unfortunately—” (PLEASE, NOT THAT WORD, NOT NOW) “—we can’t file a claim with your insurance—” (THEN WHY DID YOU TELL ME OVER THE PHONE YOU TAKE MY INSURANCE?!!?!?) “—-without your social security number” and then she tapped the spot on the form that I somehow left blank.
Jesus fucking Christ, is that all. So I gave her my social security number that I have had memorized since I was 16 and oddly obsessed with getting a job* and filled out applications like it was a new hobby, only to get my first job at a dollar store where I took my break on my first day and never went back, lololol.
*(All of my friends were like, “You’re rich AF, why do you need a job?” except “AF” wasn’t a thing in 1995, so I’m not sure what they actually said. “Hella rich” maybe?)
(I am no longer “hella rich/rich AF” though so if we’re being honest here, 90% of my stress over this tooth episode was from worrying over how much I was going to have to pay out-of-pocket and HOW WOULD I AFFORD IT SO CLOSE TO XMAS? I was about to start collecting some more of those job applications…for Henry, lol. Second job time, buddy! Take one for the team!)
Then some older man breezed through the door and hollered HELLO EVERYBODY to which the receptionist answered, “Hi Mark” and then Mark sat down and immediately called who I presume was his secretary and asked her to book him a flight to Orlando next Thursday morning and then gave her/him details about the car he wanted to have rented, where he wanted to stay, and when he wanted to come back, which was going to be sometime after he “has dinner with the Chinese.”
Cool story, Mark.
That was enough to help distract me and before it was even time for my appointment, the hygienist came out to get me (my last dentist was consistently 30 minutes behind on appointments so this was amazing to me) and she seemed way more receptive to hysteria so I just unleashed on her when she asked me how I was doing and she was very reassuring.
“AND I HAVE THIS OVER THE COUNTER STUFF IN THERE RIGHT NOW AND I WAS TOO SCARED TO REMOVE IT BEFORE COMING HERE IS THAT OK!?!?!?” I cried, wringing my hands as I sat stiffly in the exam chair.
“Oh that’s fine! We’ll take it out, no problem,” she said, going about her business of setting up tools, etc like she didn’t have a dying patient before her.
My whole body was shaking by this point, and then I heard her in the next room telling THE DENTIST that I had the stuff in my tooth and I was like OMG IS SHE TATTLING ON ME.
Anyway, Dr. Hall came in right away, looked at it, declared no x-ray was needed, and then Novacained me the fuck up before I had a chance to keep blurting things out because I lose all filter when I’m in the dentist’s chair and have a desperate desire to talk about all of my oral fears.
Once the Novacaine kicked in, Dr. Hall filled and bonded it.
Just like that!! I still have a tooth!
In my head, this is how it was going to play out:
- they would determine I needed a root canal;
- in the process of doing a root canal, my whole tooth falls out;
- while they’re trying to stop my tooth from going down my throat, they knock off the crown on the tooth next to the one that just fall out;
- now I need an implant;
- I’m at the bank trying to take a loan;
- can’t get a loan so now I’m selling my kid on the dark internet
My imagination is a slippery slope, OK? I always go right for the worst case scenarios. I told Dr. Hall this and he was like, “Yeah, Google is not always your friend” and I really feel like Dr. Hall and I are going to have a great Dentist/Patient relationship.
By the way, it’s my supposed root canal tooth that this happened to, but he said it didn’t look like I was in any dire need of one right away, maybe down the line, and to just let him know if I have any pain or discomfort.
The whole process took about 20 minutes and I felt NOTHING. Dr. Hall is a fucking miracle-worker.
And then they gave me my pre-insurance filing bill, and according to that, the most I will have to pay once the claim is filed is like $150 and THAT IS DOABLE. I almost started to cry, I was so relieved.
Right before I walked out of the office, I called over my shoulder, “Thank you for saving me!” and he was like, “haha…ok.” Get ready, Dr. Hall. I am always 150% “on” at my dentist appointments. Erin Uber-Unfiltered is someone only boyfriends/close friends/dentists/doctors ever get to see. At my old, longtime dentists office (before she ruined my life by retiring) her staff used to laugh and announce, “Erin’s here!” when I walked in. It was like that.
And it was only 9:15 when I left! This was great except that I couldn’t go home since I don’t have a housekey (lol) so instead I went to Muddy Cup and got a chestnut latte and then walked all the way to the trolley platform in Beechview (about a 30 minute walk) to kill time and burn off some of my hyper energy, because I was a fucking bouncing ball of spitfire by then, you guys. It felt so good to have that stress taken away. I cannot handle dental problems, I am obsessed with my teeth and constantly think I have at least 6 things wrong in there.
So now, after texting several people at work that morning to give them the heads up that I might be late (on account of having all of my teeth pulled, being fitted for dentures, going to the bank, writing up a good description to make my kid seem more buyable), I was actually EARLY which was great because this allowed me to blow through the department like a fucking hurricane, pulling people away from their work in order to tell them I WENT TO THE DENTIST WITH A BROKEN TOOTH AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE.
“I feel like I was given a second lease on life,” I said to Henry that night.
“Oh my god,” he mumbled.