Due to financial reasons, I have not been to the dentist in thirteen years, although I take wonderful care of my teeth and have been (up until this point), fortunate to have healthy teeth and no dental pain. In January, my income level qualified me to participate in the Medicaid program due to the Affordable Care Act. To be clear, since there is a lot of bias and false conceptions about the type of people who receive Medicaid—-I am a full time graduate student studying Disaster Medicine, I work (and have been employed nearly consistently since the age of 16), and I have never received any sort of assistance as an adult. Also to be clear, this post is not putting down the program, I feel very thankful to finally have medical coverage, although I do feel it is important to mention my financial situation because it does play a role here.
In the state I live, basic dental is included in the new expanded Medicaid program, and after not going to the dentist for over a decade, I decided it was time to be seen for a cleaning and dental checkup. Finding a dentist was much more challenging than I expected, it took about 20 calls to dental offices in my county and surrounding counties before I finally found a dentist who would accept my insurance.
On April 12th, I went in to have a cleaning, exam, and x-rays. It became immediately clear to me that the dentist overbooked patients and I ended up waiting three hours past my appointment time just to get called back. Because he had overbooked, they did not have time to do my cleaning so they took some x-rays and did a visual exam. The dentist discovered three small cavities on my upper teeth, and told me I would need to have them filled so that they would not get bad. They scheduled me another appointment for May 16th.
On May 16th, I went in and had the three fillings done. Once I got home and the numbing medication wore off I was in severe pain. I’ve had fillings done as a teen and never experienced so much pain after fillings. The office told me I could be sore for two weeks, so I waited for it to clear. Over the course of those two weeks the pain continued to worsen to a level 8 and 9, (level 10 pain I reserve for losing a limb or something along those lines), and I lost the ability to chew at all. After two weeks, I called the office to see if they could get me in because I thought something was seriously wrong. They told me they could schedule me in for October. I asked for them to see me sooner because I felt this was an emergency, I even asked if I could sit at the office in case of a cancellation, but they would not let me do this.
So I started my search again for another dentist that would help me, calling dental schools and even dentists across the state. Dentists that took my insurance were not taking new patients, didn’t want to help because they didn’t do the initial fillings etc., and the ones I found who could possibly help, would not take my insurance and would only provide me services for cash in full. Estimates were at approx. $2,500-$3,000…..remember I qualify for medicaid…….I don’t even have a spare $5. After a whole week of phone calls, I finally found a low-income dental clinic that was willing to see me as an emergency, but I would have to sit at the office and wait until they could fit me in. I sat for eight hours at this clinic, hopeful that I would finally get help. When I was taken back by the dentist she did a visual exam and had some x-rays done to check for infection——there wasn’t any sort of infection, so she adjusted my bite in case the fillings were too high and told me if I was still in pain after four more weeks, to call and make an appointment again, and she would remove my fillings. She thought there may be an issue with the fillings themselves, but wanted to be sure the bite adjustment couldn’t resolved the issue.
So I wait in severe pain for another four weeks. The pain does not go away. It is so bad at this point I keep blacking out, I have severe migraines, jaw pain, shooting pain I describe as lightening bolts going through my teeth with the new fillings, and the inability to eat anything that isn’t the consistency of baby food. I can’t sleep at night and I cry because the pain is so bad. Finally four torturous weeks pass and I call the low-income clinic. The news I hear makes me fall to my knees, the supervisor and the dentist has decided not to let me be seen again because they think the original dentist needs to correct the problem. I tell them I can’t wait until October to be seen, they tell me there is nothing they can do and hang up.
I have a breakdown, and at this point, the pain has taken over my entire life, so I go to the original dentist office and shamefully in tears I beg them to see me sooner. They inform me there is an open spot on July 7th. I take the appointment. July 7th, I go to my appointment. The dentist notices inflammation around the teeth with the new fillings. He tells me he will take the fillings out, but I need to make another appointment, and for the pain I need to take Ibuprofen (which feels like a joke at this point). I tell him that I am relocating in August for my master thesis research, and it has to be taken care of by then. I get another appointment for July 14. I tell myself I can hold on just one more week. Then July 10th I get a phone call, they need to reschedule my appointment. I feel sick to my stomach. She tries to give me one in NOVEMBER. I plea for something sooner, she then says they have some in mid-August. I don’t understand why they keep putting me at later dates when they have sooner appointments. I also ask why my appointment is getting rescheduled. She tells me it is because the dentist is going on vacation…….
Today, July 13. Now my worries turn to my schooling, summer break is over in two weeks. I can’t get a medical leave of absence from college because my situation doesn’t qualify. Maybe the pain has made me irrational, but the only option I see left is dropping out. Not only will it be a loss of $100,000+, I have also invested eight years of my life into my education. But I don’t know what to do at this point and I don’t know how much longer I can handle this pain. I have fallen into a hopeless pit of despair.
S.E Smith (via belcanta)
Practical Tips for Productive Living
This came up in my search when I was trying to find statistical data for a paper I am working on. It is totally unrelated to statistics, but I am glad I clicked the link since I really needed to read this with how I’ve been feeling lately.
This year I am committed to my resolutions. I know, don’t we all say that at the beginning of a fresh year! But I’ve been discontent for some time now. The feeling was like a too tight pair of shoes rubbing against the heels, the pain becomes unbearable and you know if you keep walking in them eventually a blister is going to form.
RIKER: In all trust, there is the possibility of betrayal. I’m not sure you were prepared for that.
DATA: Were you prepared, sir?
RIKER: I don’t think anybody ever is.
DATA: Then it is better not to trust.
RIKER: Without trust, there’s no friendship, no closeness. None of the emotional bonds that make us what we are.
DATA: And yet you put yourself at risk.
RIKER: Every single time.
I watched the first three episodes of Heroes of Cosplay to get inspired to start ‘thinking’ about ideas for springtime cons, but then afterwards, I felt like making something RIGHT THAT INSTANCE. So I’ve been running around my room looking for things I can rip apart and reconstruct since I have no supplies on hand. Now I am sitting in a pile of stuff and just noticed a few hours have already vanished. So maybe I need to re-think this plan considering I have an important briefing to prepare by tomorrow.
OH YES! Emerald City Comicon and Norwescon are not on the same dates after all. And here I thought I would have to abandon Norwescon for Richard Dean Anderson, Jim Beaver, Michael Dorn, & Mark Sheppard.
Now time to start planning costumes.
You know you are too tired when you read the title of this article as: residents are told to watch out for blood wine in water supply.
Or maybe I just watch too much Star Trek.
Being subtle is not something that should be tried around a person like me. It’s even worse when someone is trying to get my attention romantically. In fact, I don’t even realize it until like the millionth time they have tried and finally they say it flatly—that is if they haven’t given up first.