2.5 hours – one tooth

Lesson for the week: if you ever want to sell something to someone and really rob them of any self-respect and ability to make an objective decision to the point where they’ll just about give you their bank account information, you only have to do one thing. Throw them in a dentist chair and stick the bill in their face.

(BTW – if you’re just now joining the Dentist story, I’ve tagged all of the episodes with dentist, so you can catch up.)

Yesterday morning.
1050 – show up for my 11 am root canal/crown prep appointment.

1100 – look at clock nervously

1120 – get called in and sit in scary chair.

1125 – asst. shoves a bill in my face for the root canal. It says $900, which is funny, because the bill they showed me last week said $165. Asst. tells me that the cost has changed because… drum roll please… my insurance has a waiting period.
What goes through my head in the next second: My anxiety about this appointment already has me on edge. The mental crap that I’ve gone through just to get into a chair for a root canal has already been enough for one month. The thought of fighting this seems entirely less appealing than just sucking it up, getting on with the surgery and getting the hell out of there. I really want this tooth fixed. But still – this is bullshit.

“There’s no waiting period,” I say.

“But see, it says right here,” and she points to the part of the fax I sent in over a week ago, and explains a waiting period for endodontic work.
Then I explain that I’ve been over this, that I spent four days talking to my insurance company, that everyone there said I don’t have a waiting period and go talk to Peggy who called them last week and came to the conclusion that I don’t have a waiting period.

She leaves. I sit and stew.

I made this appointment 6 days ago – they’ve had plenty of time to look over it, get confused and fuck with me over the phone. They could have fucked with me for the 30 minutes I was in the waiting room. But no, they waited for me to be prone on my back with a whole lot of sharp, bright, metallic scary objects over my head to tell me – oh, by the way, we told you one price last week and now it’s five and a half times that. Here’s a pen. Just sign here.

Can you sue for a bait and switch at a medical office? But what if there really is a waiting period? What if the insurance company has just had its head up its ass and everyone has told me the wrong information? I’ll suck up the bill if I have to. I’m not out to screw the dentist (that’s their job not mine.) I just want the goddamn story straight. Waiting period or no waiting period. But I don’t want to solve this detective story while I’m on my back waiting for someone to stick a drill into my head.

1127 – she returns. “You don’t have a waiting period.”

1130 – meet the endodontist. Nice lady. From upside-down, the one or two times I actually opened my eyes, she kind of looked like Cynthia Nixon, which is kind of hot. She does good work.

1200 – at the counter waiting to pay for the bill

I ask the Asst if the Endo’s going to prescribe any drugs. I don’t know if I’ll need them, but at this point, I think I’m entitled to something to look forward to. She says she doesn’t know, but she’ll ask the Endo. I never see her again.

So I’m at the counter, waiting for my noon appt with the dentist. This reminds me of a side-story:

Last Friday morning, I notice a voicemail on my cell. The dentist office was calling to confirm my 11 am appointment, and they asked me to call back and confirm. So I call back, talk to someone else than the person who called me, and confirm the appointment. An hour and a half later, I get another call. It’s the first woman who called. I tell her I called back already and confirmed the appointment. She doesn’t think I have. I tell her I did.

“Oh, here it is, you confirmed the 11 am appointment.”


“But here it says you also have an appointment at 12?” she says, horribly confused.

“That’s right. The root canal’s at 11. The crown prep that immediately follows the root canal is immediately following at noon. It’s all one big appointment.”

“Oh. So you know about it?”

“Yessss. I’m confirming that I know about that appointment.”

So, back to yesterday.
I’m standing at the counter waiting for the aforementioned woman who can’t read a calendar to charge me. She’s all confused, because I haven’t seen the other dentist yet. I explain that he’s going to call me in a second, so while I have a minute to kill why don’t we settle the bill. Why I’m explaining this to people who work there eludes me. I pay the stupid bill, which she doesn’t want to charge me for reasons that also elude me. She asks if I want to wait in the lobby for the dentist who’s going to call me any minute. Sure. As soon as I walk into the lobby, a different Asst calls me in.

1200 pm – 115 pm
I’ll skip the details, but I would describe the entire process as akin to licking a jar full of rubber cement for about half an hour, and then being hit in the side of the jaw with a crowbar. Oh, and there was lots of unexpected drilling and hammering. The root canal was a fucking field day compared to this, and by the time I’m on my way out of there – drugless – I feel a brotherhood-like sympathy for anyone who’s ever received a left hook from Lennox Lewis.

120 pm
Schedule to come back in two weeks so they can put a permanent fake tooth on. Thank Christ there’s a Smoothie King next door and get lunch. Call it a day and go home. Slept for 10 straight hours.

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