Root Canal #2: Baton Rouge-Style

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It’s funny how a day can go wrong in a heartbeat … or in this case- a toothache. A couple of days ago I noticed that one of my bottom teeth was starting to feel a little sensitive. I was really mad because this was a tooth that was bothering me last year right before I had to have an emergency root canal on a different tooth. I knew this one was feeling weird every now and then, but I hoped it would hold out another year or two until I had some decent coverage on my dental insurance. This dental insurance I have with the state sucks. It pays 25% the first year, 35% the second year and then goes to 50% after that. Last year, I bit the bullet hard, and I had to pay an endodontist for the work. It hurt … and it’s what put me over the edge to implement major budget cuts for about 7 months. I just got out of that hot water when Ashok had surgery 3 weeks ago. When the tooth started hurting, I went into major intentional denial.

It was worse yesterday, but today it got a little better. But my friend Tiffany talked me into going in to my dentist today. She had to be so reasonable to remind me that if I waited until it got worse, it might need a root canal. I hate rational people. When I want to be in denial, dammit, I want to be in denial!! So, after lunch I went over to my dentist’s office which is really close to my office. My dentist is about 12 years old and is extremely handsome for a 12-year-old. Perhaps this is why I’ve had several dental emergencies in the last two years even though I have horrible insurance. But so far, he has not realized what an amazing woman is hiding under those bad teeth nor is he interested in cougars.

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Apparently, the diagnosis for a root canal is to tap on the teeth and ask the patient if they feel anything. Last year, I was in serious, monumental pain when I went to the endodontist. He tapped on my tooth, and I punched him in the face. He said, “Yep. You’ve gotta have a root canal.” I said, “That’s what I’m paying $1300 for? For you to tap my tooth?” He assured me the diagnosis was as simple as that. So, just to let you know, you can find out if you need a root canal at home. Blessedly today’s pain was hardly recognizable, so there were no injuries to that beautiful face. He just delivered the bad news, and I asked the assistant to bring me the really bad news – the cost. It was better than last year but worse than I anticipated. What’s a girl to do? I said, “Sure. I’ve got nothing else to do but go back to the office. Let’s do it.”

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The Wicked Witch of the South came in to give me my shots. I had already come close to slapping the dental assistant who tried to cram an enormous wad of sharp-edged plastic in my tiny mouth for an x-ray. But she backed off, and, once again, no injuries were sustained. So this Witch comes in with loads of cartridges of Novocaine – or whatever they use these days. Now why do shots that big have to be used? When you get shots in other places, they are tiny, and the nurses hide them so you don’t see them. Not at the dentist!! No, they are trained to pick out the largest and scariest shots on the planet and wave them in front of your eyes. She snickered and cackled before she put the first one in. “This will only hurt a little,” she howled while flipping her hair back and waving the gigantic needle-gun in the air. Then she went back for a second load and then a third. On the third, the shot hovered right in front of my eyes with Novocaine dripping slowly down the edge of the needle. “You have to do another one?” I asked incredulously. “I’ll get you, my pretty,” she howled, “and your little dog Ashok, too.” Her eyes turned green, and she went in for the kill. I never saw her again, thank goodness. Next time, I’m going to throw water on her.

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I waited for what seemed hours for the handsome prince to come in and save me. But while I was waiting the dental assistant and I started chatting. Apparently, there was an LSU football player who was getting a crown ahead of me. I’m glad I had to wait. She didn’t have an accent, and I asked her where she was from. She was from Illinois, so we got to talking about how we ended up in Baton Rouge. Either there are a lot of people that are not from here in Baton Rouge, or we are somehow attracted to each other. I’m meeting so many lately. It’s a difficult transition coming to Baton Rouge especially if you are single. There’s nothing wrong with Baton Rouge, but it doesn’t have yoga studios, natural areas and parks or many of the other amenities that other cities offer. And it’s a married town, even though I have read statistics that the majority of people here are single. One woman told me that her Louisiana co-workers didn’t even try to make friends with her for three years because they thought is was a waste of time. Once people make it three years, they may be here awhile. Why bother if they are going to leave?

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My dental assistant knew me. She sees me walking my dog in the Capitol Heights neighborhood all the time. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have told me they see me walking the neighborhood. I usually don’t recognize them, but they recognize me. So, we talked about yoga, Illinois, being single in Baton Rouge and the Artist’s Way workshop. By the time the dentist got there, I was numb, but I wanted to tell him to go away. I had made a new friend. He was insistent that we do this thing, and he did. After cramming a large brick in my mouth to hold it open, he covered the rest of my mouth with a rubber tarp that threatened to choke me to death if I tried to get a big gulp of air. When I wasn’t watching the plethora of needles and swords that he was putting into my mouth, I was focusing on my breath and telling myself that I was going to live and I was going to be able to pay this off before I died. At some point in my sixties I will be able to afford a vacation. The root canal itself was painless, and he said the root was already dead when he went in. It was just the infection that was causing the soreness. I was thrilled when it was all over.

“That was a blast! Can we do this again tomorrow?”, I asked the woman at the front desk. She said we could, but I’d have to pay more money, and I wasn’t willing to cough up more. So, alas, we just scheduled the appointment for the crown which will take a lot longer than the root canal unless there’s another football player needing some work. And, apparently, my dentist has still not recognized the major hot babe he had in his chair because he did not ask for my number….  other than the one on my credit card.

So I exchanged contact info with my new friend and told her about the Women in Transition Meetup Group that I’ve enjoyed so much. I drove home thinking that I may need to give up my quest to be debt-free. I had been debt-free for about 2 years before I moved here, but ever since I’ve been here, it’s just really hard to keep that goal. I’ll have to see how it all falls out, but I’ll be another year budgeting to pay off this and Ashok’s mattress-eating fiasco. At some point, I’m just going to have to find a cheaper place to live or get a second job in order to have a life where I can travel again. But, I don’t want to think about that right now. In perfect timing, I received a care package today from my friend Jessica in Tulsa. It’s a perfect little gift for a rainy day. I made a big hot chocolate with whipped cream so I can relax a little after the trauma to my mouth. My mouth is numb, so I can only taste it on one side, but it’s pretty tasty on that side. Uh oh… I think I just saw that witch fly by on her broom.

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