Tooth Bad! Hydros Good!

I'm really not a regular pill popper, I swear. But I have something to confess: I love Hydrocodone. Love it, love it, love it. I've had a toothache creeping on lately and it finally broke through my pain threshold earlier this week. OMFG. Is there any pain as exquisite and unique as the pain caused by an ice cold beverage sloshing against raw, open dental nerves? I think not. Wednesday morning, after a sleepless night of bleary infomercials and warm salt water rinses I decided something must be done before the ache caused me to turn into a pain-grizzled gnome. The endless Tylenol doses were having about as much pain-relieving effect as Mike and Ikes, only crunchier and more bitter. I needed to cry on the shoulder of my good old friend Hydro. Hydro Codone. A visit to Mom's pharmacy only provided a temporary fix: I could only manage to finagle two out of her, but hey, at least they were 10's. Sweet relief began to descend and I decided I should probably look toward a more long-term solution to my toothache. Being that I'm poor and uninsured, my first thought was to call the Dirne clinic. The receptionist told me to bring in my last two pay stubs, tax info from last year, a current utility bill, a photo ID, a recipe for seven-layer dip, a copy of US Weekly from 1997, and the college transcripts of my second cousin, twice removed. Oh, and also $25, which was going to be my total cost if I "qualified for assistance." They make you pay this before you even get an appointment, which is a completely backwards way of doing business, I think. I gathered the necessary paperwork and drove like a stoned granny up to the clinic. When I arrived I was told I was a "Group 2", which meant that I was apparently poor enough to be seen. "Let's see," bubbled the receptionist in a California girl accent, "We have an opening, like, a two weeks from next Tuesday..." I mentally prepared myself to throw down a drama about how I'd simply die a death of pain by then, but she continued "...or right now." They'd had a cancellation and I happened to show up at the right moment. As soon as I laid down in that oddly relaxing dental chair I realized that I'd been in such a hurry to visit Mom's Pharmacy earlier in the morn that I'd totally forgotten to brush my teeth. How embarrassing, to have a dentist mucking around in my filthy dirty maw, still ripe with last night's garlicky chicken and rice and blended with a subtle note of morning breath. I felt even worse since the dentist turned out to be an attractive and classy young lady who surely didn't deserve exposure to anything less than a perfectly minty mouth. Ah well, I have to think that at the Dirne Clinic for poor people, she's seen hairier tongues than mine. She fed me one of those white x-ray squares that you bite down on while they point a UFO at your face. While she waited for the image to develop, she turned me nearly upside down in the chair and started poking around. I wiggled in pain when she tapped the guilty tooth with the back of her little mirror tool. "Mnnnn...A-ha..." she mumbled, "that must be the one." "Ummmm..... yeah," I agreed, a little amazed that she had caused enough pain to cut through my Hydrocodone haze. We examined the X-ray together. "Not good, not good at all" she sighed and pointed out the huge crevasse which was indeed a cavity. I'd been attacked by the Cavity Creeps - does anyone else remember that commercial? Anyways, she told me I could either have a root canal done on it or have it yanked. Unfortunately, the Dirne Clinic doesn't do root canals and if I wanted her to yank it, I'd have to come back two weeks from next Tuesday. She told me about some ghetto outfit in Plummer of all places that would do the root canal for significantly less than the usual $700-1200 they normally cost these days. Later, when I mentioned this to Colleen, she went pale: "No, no, no. Don't - I repeat - DO NOT go to the ghetto dental clinic in Plummer," and proceeded to tell me a horror story about her one trip there involving not enough anesthesia and being stuck in a K-hole or something like that. Yikes. The Dirne clinic couldn't really do anything for me, but they were nice enough to send me on my way with a copy of my $25 X-ray, which I now have displayed proudly on my fridge. I had hoped to avoid it, but my next stop was the fabulous KMC Emergency Room. I am here to tell you that miracles can happen. I was in and out of there in approximately 20 minutes, narcotic and antibiotic prescriptions in hand. I sat for maybe 30 seconds in the waiting room before they called my name, told my sad story to the nurse, the doctor came in with my scripts ready to go and I was outta there. Honestly, I was a little dazed since I'd never seen or heard of anyone getting in and out of that place in less than 2 hours for any reason. At Walgreens, it took longer to fill my prescriptions than it actually took for me to do the ER thing. Wild. So I still haven't decided if I'm going to beg Dr. Thompson (my regular dentist since I was 3 years old) to let me make payments on a root canal job or if I'm going to return to the Dirne and have it yanked on the cheap. Everyone says I should just have it pulled, since it's an obscure tooth that wouldn't be missed visually, but I kind of like it there. I'd miss it. Meanwhile, I've had the best couple of days floating around pain-free on my synthetic-opiate induced cloudy-cloud-cloud. Yesterday was my day off, and I decided to do a cleaning and reorganizing shwap on my house. Never have I enjoyed housework so much. I got tingles of joy just hoovering the carpets. A visit to St. Vincent de Paul was transcendent and sublime, all that dusty crap was full of magic and possibility. My day at work today has been fantastic - I'm chatty and helpful instead of burnt-out and cantankerous. People are delightful and engaging and my mundane work duties are suddenly fun challenges. But alas, I've only a few of the little gems left and after that I'm forcing myself to tough it out. As much as I enjoy the freedom from pain and oh so pleasant side effects, I really don't have the time or money for a cute little drug addiction. If I had tons of spending cash, an Elvis doctor, and a liver of steel, I might be more inclined to really go for it. No wonder pill-popping celebrities like Matthew Perry and Nicole Richie end up with their junkie asses in rehab. Hydrocodone just takes the crappy edge of life and makes everything all sunshine and orange marmalade. Wheeeeee! What toothache?

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I rememember as kids my brother had a colonoscopy. Those pictures, too, ended up on the fridge.

And yes, that's disgusting.

I also had an ultrasound of my liver hanging on the wall for awhile.
I, too, am faced with the pull it or fork out a grand dilema. If you find a better way, let me know. For now I am keeping my old rotted tooth. I would miss it dearly as well.
The Dirne Clinic is run on donations... we are lucky to have it in CDA. FYI once you have a tooth pulled, the other teeth around it tend to cave ito that missing tooth spot. Save up to have a root canal.
right on anonymous, thanks for the reminder. I, too, hate it when the little people forget their debt of gratitude to the merciful donors who've made the dirne clinic possible, instead complaining of the pain they no doubt deserve to walk out the door with. miserable things, ugh.
what do they expect?
i mean, these things aren't free after all unless you have the excellent insurance benefits which are another unavailable resource for those gap toothed fools to aspire to ... just like you did.
tooth aching
face throbbing
breath ripping
constant pain in pain out awake or asleep
thats what they need to teach em a little damn gratitude
builds character
and for 30 bucks or so
someone at the dirne clinic will grace them with enough professional compassion (donated! compassion.... priceless really)
to observe
that they do in fact still live.
and they will walk out the door
less thirty bucks (we shit thirty dollar bills over here)
and assurance that their tooth will hurt unless and until they have 'saved up'
enough dignity to drop a grand on
a root canal.

serves em right with their teeth caved in.....
gene sharks in our pool
natural selection and all that mate you know.

remember to smile
then we'll know by the condition of your porcelain veneers
just how
much you
will net
we roll your ass down the

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