I don’t know what I expected from a dentist that offers Botox.
I am reclined in her chair preparing for my filling. The dentist is preparing for my filling and I am listening. She is cheerful as she chatters about my upper jaw (maxilla, I learned, like the little known uncle of the scary ape). “It is like swiss cheese” she tells me. “I don’t really need to aim this thing at all, wherever I put it the numbing agent will just spread everywhere.” Here she waves the syringe that is at least 3 feet long. I wonder what “everywhere” numb feels like and slightly more urgently I wish that she does aim this “at all.”
My mouth is open on some sort of silicone torture device. She tells me just to rest my muscles on it and let it do the work. Instead I am biting down. I am trying not to. I relax for a minute and it slides just slightly and I begin to gag. Her response to this is of course to stick additional items into my mouth. She waves Mr. suction with a flourish and jams him into my mouth. I try to open my throat while also closing my lips around her hand, the plastic mouth prop, and Mr. Suction. “I see here” she says twirling on her seat to check my chart. “We have a note that you have a very small mouth.” I try to make a joke about how my husband would disagree but instead I say glglgghepghap-djwjwjhw. “What sweetie?” she asks catching my hair in the crook of her elbow. “Never mind” I tell her but she hears “uhuhuhhhGlu” so she removes Mr.Suction and begins the several step process of disengaging the plastic prop. About halfway through she can make out that I am saying “never mind” and she laughs. Ha. Ha. So funny that she can’t understand me.
Still chipper she sighs with pleasure over her view. All I can see through my scratched dentist provided sunglasses is a bright light which reflects my legs in its shiny casing. They are warped and look shorter and wider than reality. Not something I was going for. She is referring to the industrial park out her window behind which peek the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I guess I should commend her for seeing the mountains rather than the squat buildings but I am distracted by the hygienist who has joined us. At first I think she is all business. She is unwrapping all of the instruments from their blue sanitary plastic. She is patting my shoulder and somehow managing to pull my hair for the second time. I reach back to try to smooth it and upset the paper bib and delicate balance of tools in my mouth and set my hand back on my large leg in failure. I try to lean my head further back to allow some slack in my hair and she adjusts her grip pinning me more firmly in place.
The two are talking to each other now.
“I never sent the letter to Delta Dental” the dentist tells her assistant.
“No?” asks the assistant, clearly not interested.
This doesn’t matter much though because the dentist has a captive audience. “I am preparing to go out of network with Delta Dental.” She tells me over the noise of the drill. Delta Dental is my insurance. I try to let her know by saying “akljneowown” which she interprets as acknowledgement of her trials and tribulations. She goes on to explain in great detail her 14 year history with them which includes decreased payment for services. We all understand insurance misery…but her problem is about to become my problem and I don’t want to think about it right now. She continues to list each procedure and the amount the insurance gives her. “But you don’t need to worry sweet Anna”, here she swivels again leaving her arms and tools in my mouth resting a finger on my upper gum. I can feel her nail through her glove. The numbing agent has most distinctly NOT gone everywhere. My hair is once again caught in her elbow and I stifle a response because it will just slow everything down. “Oh,” she says in surprise “you ARE Delta Dental.” So I am.
She quickly changes the subject and looks over her magnifying glasses at her assistant. “Remember that spa our patient told us about?” How, I wonder, did a patient tell her anything with a mouth crammed full and the incessant chatter. She must not be talking to me. The hygienist is back with us now. “Sure. I want to check it out so I invited a friend for her birthday. She just cant seem to make the time. July she told me. July. Can you believe it?” “No!” My dentist is outraged “how ungrateful. You are trying to do something nice for her. Tell her your doctor wants you to check out the spa.” That’ll work. I think. The friend will certainly celebrate her birthday on doctor’s orders. A few minutes go by while they rev each other up with further protestations. By now it seems like the spa-less woman is heartless. And difficult. And unworthy of friendship. Terrible. But not quite as terrible as the hair pulling, nail gumming, filling drilling that I am experiencing right now.
Luckily things get more interesting.
“I can’t wait until my sister moves here” the assistant tells the doctor. “She is the best masseuse in the world.” In my mind I correct her term to “massage therapist” as trained to by the body workers who have beaten the crap out of my shoulder for the last 10 years. This is the same shoulder that the dentist is resting her bony elbow on, once again pinning my hair in an uncomfortable position.
“She has the strongest hands” continues the hygienist. “We grew up on a goat farm and your hands get really really strong milking the goats.” At this moment the drill stops its whine so each of the neighboring dental patients can hear her say. “And then she was a stripper. That pole dancing makes you even stronger than milking goats.”
The dentist visit has been very valuable. Not only did I fill a hole in my tooth but several holes in my knowledge base. I could pass a quiz on the proper name for apelike swiss cheese bones. More importantly I can educate people about the best pathway to become a masseuse. Goat milking and pole dancing.
To this I say “auhauahhaglge.”