Let me pour myself a cup of coffee as I digest the chicken burger with avocado I just inhaled. I will tell you a story as I sit and reflect on one of life’s foremost pleasures: enjoying a mediocre meal that tastes like the most amazing food ever specifically because you had a dental emergency and now your mouth is fixed.
That is a run-on sentence but you can deal with it.
It was May 2011. The teenager was in first grade and I was working very part-time at Target and working on my second bachelors degree at Lafayette College.
I walked the child and a neighbor to the elementary school every day. This day was no exception.
I was almost home. But just like the opening sequence in Ryan O’Connell’s Netflix comedy “Special,” I fell.
O’Connell and I share similar experiences with our cerebral palsy. (For more on that, see my article from The Mighty, Grit and getting published on The Mighty.)
Ninety-nine times out of 100, I get up, brush myself off and keep going perhaps with a scratch or a scraped knee.
This day, I faltered on a bad patch of sidewalk, caught my balance, then stepped forward only to unexpectedly lose my balance again. And I didn’t have a chance to put out my hands or collapse into the fall.
My glasses went flying. My phone also sailed away. My chin was the only thing that hit the sidewalk. This was both lucky and unfortunate.
I stood, gathered my things. I knew my chin was bleeding but when I put my glasses on I noticed something:
There was a tooth on the ground.
I was about four houses away from my domicile. But in my shock, I had no recollection where the accident occurred. I called my husband. He demanded I go to the dentist.
At the dentist, the used butterfly bandaids to hold together my chin as they X-rayed me. They encouraged me to head to the ER next. I ended up with two stitches. (Both the ER and the dentist were utterly impressed I hadn’t broken my jaw.)
Dr. Lorri Tomko
Now, my dentist often has other dentists working in her practice. This particular day I had the true, true pleasure of working with Dr. Lorri Tomko. She went CSI on my mouth explaining what had happened.
When I fell, my bottom teeth and top teeth smashed together and damaged each other. I damaged most of my mouth that day. For the next few years, I had a lot of dental work.
Some of it was hard for me and for Dr. Tomko, but she was dedicated and gentle and it helped my anxiety that she walked me through everything that was going to happen.
She’s my favorite dentist ever.
The tooth I spit out was only half a tooth. It was one of the few cavities I had had and the tooth broke around the filling. A really ancient and in my opinion terrible oral surgeon pulled it, reciting the tooth number the entire time. (#29)
I can’t prove it, but I blame him for a bad mouth infection I got upon receiving an implant. He had missed a piece of the original tooth.
Last night’s broken crown
So last night, I spit out a crown while eating candy from my daughter’s recent Universal Yums box. I was frantic when I saw it was my crown and not my implant crown.
That original crown… Dr. Tomko couldn’t get the tooth to numb and she used laughing gas on me and said something about never wanting to work on that tooth ever again. And that we both needed a glass of wine.
I called her office today, but she doesn’t take me insurance and she couldn’t see me until Tuesday.
My normal dentist got me in at 3 pm, but at this point my remaining tooth is stabbing my tongue when I talk, eat or drink.
My dentist could take the impressions and get the temporary crown on. Thank goodness, but my mouth didn’t want to cooperate. I couldn’t stop my gag reflex for the impressions then I wasn’t biting correctly.
Apparently I kept shifting my bite to the left to bite the stuff in my mouth.
You know what’s worse that doing something that triggers your gag reflex? Doing it seven times! No exaggeration. Seven.
And of course, payment was $394. Their regular price was $1250. But my insurance price was $750. But they would only pay 50 percent and I had a copay.
If I look at my American Express bill right now it includes (from the last month):
$500 for a diagnostic ultrasound for my breast
$175 for radiology for that ultrasound
Go ahead, politicians of a certain type, telling me again that the system isn’t broken. Corporations run this country. And medical insurance is big business.