Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“Adventures With the Dentist—Final Episode?”

         The last leg of my dental story took place yesterday. I actually left the house with nerves because I feared a confrontation with my dentist. When I called last week to schedule my appointment, I had a little run-in with the girl handling appointments.
         I gave her my name, told her I had visited the office a few weeks before. I explained that I had completed the root canal and needed a permanent filling.
         “I see on your chart that Dr. T specified a new crown.” Then the girl continued, “I need you to pay $800.00 for the crown right now. Are you prepared to do so?”
         “What?” I exclaimed. “No. No. I don’t need a crown. The endodontist saved my crown. He said I need a permanent filling.”
         “That’s not the notation the doctor left in your file.”
         “I’m not paying for a crown! I don’t need one!” My tone heated quickly. “Look, I just came back from the endodontist. His instructions were to call my dentist and schedule for a permanent filling. That’s all I will have done!”
         “Welllllll,” the receptionist drew out the word as she tried to figure out what to do. “I’ll tell you what I can do. I’ll schedule you for a consultation. Then Dr. T can determine if you only need a permanent filling instead of a new crown.”
         The edge in my voice cut sharply as I stated, “No. You will schedule me for one appointment, and that will be for a permanent filling. Not a consultation. Not a crown. A permanent filling. My sister has come into town specifically to care for my mother while I have this work done. I will not and cannot extend this over two more appointments!”
         Trying to placate me, the young woman offered a compromise, “I’ll schedule you for a consultation but put into the notation that you will probably need a permanent filling to be filled immediately. Will that work?”
         Like I had a choice?
         So yesterday I fretted on whether I’d enter the dental office for a final visit, or if I’d get the run around about a consultation and a second schedule for the permanent filling. I left the house ready to do battle and vowed to my sister and mother that I would return with a permanent filling—or else!
         When I arrived at the office, the receptionist pulled out my file.
         “Hmmm. . . you are here for?”
         “A permanent filling on number 19,” I offered quickly before any other option could surface. I plastered a smile on my face and hoped my confidence would convince the girl that I wasn’t there for a consultation.
         “Oh. Yes.” As she flipped through my file, I saw the report from the endodontist. Relief hit me then because I knew I wouldn’t have to do battle after all.
         Eventually, the assistant pulled me back, took another x-ray, and draped me with my paper bib. The dentist came in and explained that since the root canal “kills the tooth” she wouldn’t use any local.
         Within seventeen minutes, she’d cleared out the temporary filling and replaced it with a new, permanent filling!
         After paying my bill, I told the girl that I hoped I wouldn’t see her for six months when I return for a cleaning.

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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