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Randomness from a Prettyjedi

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.


Low-income people are often criticised for making ‘poor decisions’ in the eyes of observers who think they have a better understanding of how poor people should live their lives, prioritise their spending, and live within their own communities. Yet, these criticisms are often made with a lack of understanding about how income levels influence decisionmaking, and how certain habits can become ingrained even after years; if you have lived with insecurity at some point, you are likely to continue to retain habits that reflect the experience of financial insecurity, even if those habits are actually detrimental to saving money, developing more independence, and living securely.

The thing about being poor is that it requires a radically different approach to life, and one that often doesn’t involve a long-term view, because you can’t afford to take such a view. When poor people are criticised for ‘bad decisions,’ it’s often for things like not buying in bulk (the econopack problem rides again), not renting more affordable housing (yes, because people choose to live in expensive rentals), not buying things that are more expensive in the short term but pay off in the long term (‘why keep buying crappy $20 shoes when you could buy a $100 pair of long-lasting shoes?’). So many of these judgments involve how poor people use their money, and they betray a fundamental lack of understanding about some basic facts of being poor.

When you are poor, you do not have savings, money in reserve, or a safety cushion in your bank account. It’s not that you’re being cheap and refusing to buy those $100 shoes, it’s that you have $35 in your bank account until next pay day, and your child needs shoes today. You don’t have access to credit, and if you did and chose to put those better shoes on a credit card, you wouldn’t be able to pay them off anyway, because most of your next paycheque is already allocated to expenses like rent and utilities that must be paid immediately (and in some cases are overdue).

When you are poor, there is no safety net, and this is something many middle class people do not understand. They confuse broke and poor, and don’t understand the genuine difference between their way of life and that of others. Those who retain cushions of hundreds or thousands of dollars start getting nervous about ‘not having enough money’ when they still have more in their accounts than poor people make in a month—and while one might argue that savings and maintaining such cushions is an example of good financial planning and a good idea, it’s only accessible to people who make enough money to do it.

And who have trained themselves to have the habit of doing it. One of the facts of poverty is that you become accustomed to spending money when you have it, and it becomes hard to check your spending habits in the unlikely event you do start making more money; consequently, it becomes very hard to save money, or to use your funds on practical things. Thus, a poor person might buy something like a television instead of bulk foods for the pantry, attracting disdain from critics, simply because she wants a television, and she has the money. Next month, when her income fluctuates and an emergency eats up her extra cash, she’s right back where she started, but at least she still has that television (for now, until she’s forced to sell it to pay the water bill three months in the future).

Decision making is complicated when you’re poor, and you have a very different rubric for decisions that other members of society do. Being poor isn’t mysterious and noble, but it’s not the fault of people who are poor, either; and it’s not necessarily something that people can magic their way out of just by making ‘the right choices’ as deemed by other members of society.

Decision making while poor can involve being forced to choose between two important expenses with the knowledge that you can only cover one. Food or electricity? Rent or garbage bill? Water or phone? Copay for the doctor’s office or transit pass so you can get to work? Car insurance or parking tickets? While many people are familiar with constant demands on their finances, people in the middle classes can generally handle these needs routinely as they come up; pay it off, move forward, maybe shift the budget around a little to accommodate unexpected expenses. When you are poor, even five dollars more or less can make a huge difference in your life.

The role that poverty plays as a looming shadow in the lives of many people is often discounted. To be poor is to make decisions solely on the basis of money, sometimes in the active knowledge that they are bad decisions but that they are also the only choice; this raises questions about the nature of whether they are truly decisions, or could be more accurately termed forced sacrificial moves. And to have been poor is to fear poverty again, to attempt to pull yourself out of harmful set habits that you recognise, but don’t necessarily know how to address, because you’ve never known anything but finance-induced decision making.

Is the money there? Spend it, quickly, before it slips away. Address immediate needs as they arise, because everything is a right-now crisis, and try not to think about the future. If the car breaks down, hope that it’s an easy fix, because the thought of buying a new one is insurmountable right now. If you can’t fix it, buy another old clunker even though you know it’ll break down too, because it’s all you can afford. Or search for a new job that will let you take transit, and hope that you don’t end up short on bus fare at the end of the month in that awkward period when all the money’s gone out and nothing has come in yet.


S.E Smith (via belcanta)

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. 

Tagged as: romance, flirting, oblivious,


I recently went to get my daughter’s hair cut and I brought out a magazine and asked her to pick how she wanted her hair.

She chose Patrick Stewart.



Bonjour mon petit chou. A little about me: I am creative and kind-hearted at best, antisocial and pessimistic at worst. I believe deeply in the restorative powers of nature, stars beyond count, and a dog by my side. Also, I suffer from forever itchy wanderer’s feet. :)

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