Monday, August 7, 2017

Back to the dentist, day one

The dental technician was familiar to me from all the trips to the dentist I took in the fall of 2015 when I had over $6,000 worth of dental work done, and she got me seated in the chair and presently the new dentist came in to say hello and assess the situation.  He had read my health condition update and asked about my running, which I said was on hold for the foreseeable future while I healed from an achilles strain.

I noted from reading the plaques on his wall that he had graduated in 2011 from SUNY Buffalo dental school and I told him that I'd traveled to Buffalo several times during my last two years at work for cases and I thought it was a grand old city, although it tended to be a little cold (all my trips seemed to occur in the winter).  I also noted that he'd done his dental internship at a hospital in Syracuse and asked if he'd commuted to there from Buffalo or moved there, because it seemed to me that it was hours away.  He said he had moved there for his internship and it sounded like pretty interesting stuff--being on call at the emergency room and being brought in to treat smashed teeth from fights or teeth driven into the jaw or cheekbone from a car wreck.

That was an education, he told me, and he got a faraway, nostalgic look on his face as he thought about (not so) old times dealing with true emergencies.  I didn't know dentists did internships in hospitals because I never imagined hospitals dealt with acute dental problems but if you think about it, they must see terrible dental mishaps lots of times that they're not equipped to handle.  The ER doctors might save your life, but not your teeth.

And now the good doctor was ready to deal with reinserting an old but intact crown and that didn't seem like it was going to be interesting, challenging or hard for him, not like in the olden days when he saw teeth displaced by force and driven into strange places.  The good news was that we were already on a first name basis, Nick and Pete, but the bad news was that about four hours of being in the chair spread out over three days in the next fortnight was only getting started.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

In the dentist chair again

On July 4th, a hot, sultry day, I thought it'd be a grand idea to cool off by having a chilled Snicker's bar, purchased from the cooler at the drugstore across the street from where I had a holiday lunch.  By my second bite into the hard, cloying mass, I was thinking it might not be a good idea to keep eating it because lesser things have pulled crowns out of my mouth before.

One more bite, a totally ill-advised one obviously, a tentative bite spurred on mostly by the thought that I'd just spent $2 on this confection, and a crown that was installed over a root-canaled tooth in 1988 was now in my hand, metal post at its base and all.  But it was intact, and maybe it could simply be cemented back in.

I didn't know it, but I was destined to be in the dentist's chair three times over the next fortnight on this emergency dental condition.  But now I had dental insurance, so I'd get to discover how effective it would prove to be because having a crown come out, or having a new, necessary crown put in, was surely a procedure that dental insurance would cover.

Two days later, I was in the chair with a new dentist, because my former dentist retired after 20 years of inspired dentistry in service of me, and forty years of service to the underserved public.  The new dentist was recommended by her, about 8 years from dental school, very personable, apparently concerned about me and very knowledgeable about mouth matters, and I was going to get the opportunity in the coming two weeks to get to know him much better.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


I've had dental work done lately. Check out my 2015 posts, late in the year, for my recounting of having thousands of dollars of dental work done, based upon emergency conditions.

The fact that then I paid for it entirely out of my pocket (and didn't ever go to the dentist except when something bad happened) reflects upon the American health insurance for-profit industry, which is genuflecting at the altar of profiting obscenely from people's misfortune.  Dental insurance is known to be practically useless, which matters because the condition of your mouth can presage your body's general overall condition or imminent decline, as any dentist of reputable status knows.

This most recent time I had dental insurance, from GEHA, and it paid $77 in amelioration of over $2K worth of dental work.  Dental insurance did I say?  I pay about $39 per month for this, ahem, insurance.

My dentist retired in 2015, and then, before she left her practice, we took on the condition of my mouth and fixed all those cracked teeth which were apparently ready to shatter.  I had for years been going to her (on an emergency basis) because she was good and she was also was one of the few dentists in my life who had never hurt me.

That is, until my last last 2 visits, when she minimized my pain to, I suppose, an acceptable level as she fit the last last crown on an uncooperative tooth resisting the influence of novocain as it was being shaved to accommodate the fitting.  (Brzzz!)  I admired Dr. Rye because she was only thinking of my welfare and didn't run up the score and do unneccessary procedures or charge me excessively.  We also sometimes talked about our kids, who played soccer together way back when.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rough 'em Up

The Acting Administrator of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, released a memo earlier this week instructing his employees to disregard the president's recent admonition to police officers to not be "nice" to suspects any more and instead rough 'em up a bit.  Director Rosenberg directed DEA personnel to always adhere to the "Rule of Law, Respect and Compassion, Service, Devotion, Integrity, [and] Accountability" in their interactions with the public, whether they be an arrestee, suspect, witness or victim.

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Rosenberg.  I was a police officer for nine years before I went to law school, two years as a sheriff's deputy at a county jail as transportation officer and director of the medium security unit, and seven years as a State Trooper, working nights on solitary patrol in remote parts where back-up often was 20 or 30 minutes away.

Mr. Rosenberg's pithily-stated directive is a much more efficient, productive and humane model for police work than the crassly stated screed of our president at the Suffolk County Police Academy graduation ceremony last week, with its the throwback appeal to bygone times.  Its successful application, as a first and foremost approach, acts to calm situations rather than escalate them, and I ought to know, that's how I conducted myself, to the best of my ability, those several years when I was a peace officer on patrol, tamping down heightened situations during scores of DUI and warrant arrests and several high speed chases and one gun discharge situation, and I never had a fight nor fired my weapon, except once to dispatch a grievously injured deer when no animal control officer was on duty.

I know Mr. Rosenberg personally and he is is no partisan advocate on one side of the political spectrum or the other.  He was in my small section at law school and I had many long conversations with him there, and I ran into him earlier this year and spoke lengthily with him then, and he is a devoted, apolitical public servant imbued with principles, who swears fealty to no man, loyal only to institutions and the truth.