Read Part 3
As I entered the small one-story building, I naively assumed that “Special Needs” referred to my gimpiness. A glance around the waiting room proved me wrong…I would’ve ordinarily thought fuck this fully and skipped subsequent visits… [But] I considered my dentist’s forecast of possible infection, the pain and inconvenience accompanying such infection, and the astounding stupidity and sluggishness of the public aid drones on whom I now depended…by then I’d resigned myself to wading through a cesspool of irrationality prior to receiving medical care.
Three months later on my second visit to Special Needs Dentistry, a new budding tooth mechanic awaited me: a young woman who, like the aspiring DDS I’d previously seen, spoke with an eastern European accent and demonstrated a impersonal attitude. I twice asked about my former intern’s whereabouts before she looked up from my paperwork and absently replied, “Oh, she’s finished here.” Next I asked about my X-rays; she claimed “they” hadn’t developed them yet. Then she advised me that she must clean my teeth before committing to a course of treatment. The almost-a-DDS proceeded to shove pencil-like instruments into my gaping mouth that basically traumatized my teeth until they were clean. After she finished, she explained that the unseen “they” will probably have processed the X-rays by my next visit. The soonest the receptionist could fit me in turned out to be three months from then.
I kept the appointment and arrived to discover I’d been assigned to yet another student masquerading as a dentist. Perfect English flowed from her mouth and she exuded an unmistakable naïveté. I didn’t bother asking about the absent wanna-be dentist. She admitted that for whatever reason my X-rays hadn’t come out, so she’d have to take them again. She crammed a bite block containing film into my mouth, aimed the wall-mounted X-ray machine and clicked. After every click, she’d replace the exposed bite block with a fresh one, again aim and click. While trying to cope with the unwieldy X-ray machine she mumbled to herself: she hoped the unseen “they” would handle my X-rays properly this time. After finishing, she politely excused herself, claimed she’d see me next time and, before I could say anything, whizzed out the door.
I showed up four months later and as promised the naïve woman saw me. She’d spoken to public aid; they’d informed her that they would only cover half of a 6-unit bridge i.e. 3 units: my left front tooth unit, the damaged unit to its left, and the unit next to it. She casually mentioned that either side of the bridge might crumble during any given step in the replacement process, in which case the lackeys at public aid would forget I exist. Referring to the developed X-rays, she broke the news that I harbored a cavity like she was telling me a favorite uncle had died. Then she started to lecture about proper oral hygiene. I interrupted, reminded her that while I’d been in the coma and several weeks thereafter, the doctors and nurses had concentrated on issues more important than brushing and flossing. She reluctantly conceded that it was probably this period that spawned the cavities; she appeared slightly disappointed that she couldn’t recite her doubtless well-memorized advice concerning dental care.
But she pounced on the next opportunity to read from a mental script. She announced that she must yank the offending tooth from my mouth* before installing the sawed-off bridge. She also reminded me that public aid didn’t cover oral anesthesia for extractions. (This wouldn’t have loomed as a great concern had a single competent dentist been treating me.) I promised that I’d tend to the cavity later, and emphasized that I wanted her to deal with the bridge immediately. My resolve flustered her. Her face reddened and her breathing became labored; she argued: “But that’s how the book says to do it! Besides, I don’t want you to have any trouble down the road with that tooth.”
I almost commented that she had a bright future as a sycophant, but I thought better of it—my prediction may have encouraged her to continue talking. I guess she considered a few minutes of relaying her prognosis a complete visit; she again claimed she’d see me next time and whizzed out the door.
By my next appointment twelve weeks later, I’d managed to skip the warehouse and move into my own apartment. I checked in with the receptionist, a young woman different than the movie-magazine toady. She asked if anyone had brought me. I glanced behind myself—of course there wasn’t anybody there—turned back and politely answered, “No. I came by myself.” Then she cooed that the dentist would see me shortly, I should take a seat in the waiting room. She pointed to the chairs in full view a few feet away.
I’d just spent literally years enduring dumbed-down baby talk spewed at me by clueless emotional retards; at that time I was discovering that mostly clueless emotional retards populated the outside. I had given Special Needs Dentistry a more than fair chance, and the people involved had proven themselves chronic fuck-ups. Something had to give.
* As I mentioned, the wanton bungling of medical personnel subjected me to public aid dental care policies that made about as much sense as tits on a boxcar. In the state where I lived, public aid would shell out for the extraction of a rotten tooth, but not for the less expensive preventive filling