One of the hassles of not having a car is navigating the vagaries of the LYNX bus schedule (assuming they have one) which could only take me partway to my dentist’s appointment this afternoon in Dr. Phillips…which wouldn’t be so bad if Google Maps actually led me to the correct dentist’s office (the address is correct, but its placement on the map is over a ½ mile off – even though I personally signed onto Google and corrected it after my initial appointment last week). Oh, I forgot to mention, the bus stop closest to my apartment is closed for construction so I need to walk another ½ mile to get to the next one.
Bearing those things in mind, I scheduled to leave the apartment at 10:30am for my appointment at 1pm. Trust me, no-one was more surprised than me when I arrived at their offices a full half-hour before my appointment (…and was still sitting in their otherwise empty waiting room ten minutes afterwards).
When the young dental assistant (the same one from my initial visit, I believe her name is April) called me back, she led me to the same Exam Room I had the previous visit weeks ago. I could tell where she was leading me because the doctor (who looked like a slightly thinner version of the coroner guy on “NCIS”) was already in there reviewing my charts with my x-rays displayed on the monitor above my chair.
God, are my teeth really THAT bad?
He introduced himself as Dr. Baxter and like April he seemed to live up to the office’s moniker of “Friendly” dentist. While he reviewed my chart, April buzzed around the room gathering the materials the doctor already had with him as if she was trying to look “useful” but not entirely sure how.
Finally, it was time for the moment I’d spent nearly two months dreading.
“Very often,” Dr. Baxter said. “I can sneak it in there without you feeling anything.”
I know, he’s a doctor. It’s his job to lie about things like that, but, Sweet Jesus, those needles hurt (the main reason I stopped getting flu shots… that and the nurses mocking me for being “hurt” by such “a tiny, little prick”).
I’ll concede that the extraction itself was more of a “sharp pressure” than an actual pain, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about my upcoming root canal (which I’ve been assured is “entirely painless”).
Unpleasant as this was, I’m definitely glad I didn’t have to get six extractions like Greenberg recommended (with no explanation as to why other than “because they need to come out”).
At this point Dr. Baxter leaves the office temporarily so April could answer any questions I might have. Like how am I supposed to talk when I can’t open my mouth? She gives me a sheet of paper with an overly happy tooth merrily exclaiming “You just had a tooth extracted!” followed by a standard set of “aftercare instructions” which she proceeded to read to me.
She slaps my arm three times in succession. I already dislike people touching me, but this was beyond the pale. Naturally, I can’t tell her that with a mouth full of Novocain particularly when she immediately proceeds to lecture me condescendingly:
“Hey! I’m talking, that means you look at me – not at the paper – at me.”
I already know all the excuses she would give if asked about the incident (and I doubt she will be). The inevitable follow-up question is “Does that make her actions ‘okay?’” The answer for all of them was the same: No.
Yes, yes, I know, violence is “okay” if you’re only trying to “teach someone a lesson” (an invalid argument I’ve heard on far too many occasions) and no apology is needed if the victim doesn’t speak up (because who can’t talk when their mouth is completely numb from Novocain?).
Fortunately, I believe this is an education and experience issue rather than an instance of systemic bullying (opportunistic? maybe; systemic? no). I suspect given her age (mid-twenties) and overall diffidence around the procedure that she was relatively new to the field and will hopefully learn appropriate behavior in time.
In the meantime, at least, they took “professional courtesy” off my statement…