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Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Toothfairy Gets My Vote

I have not been around to blog these last two weeks and have not written a piece since I took part in "Blog Against Theocracy Easter Weekend" on March 22nd. The following post is a "my dog ate my homework" explanation. It took me several days to write this as I am still not feeling up to par. I want to touch base with my fellow bloggers to let all know that I am laid up for a bit but will be back at it as soon as I am able. KWW

I had dental surgery on Tuesday, April 1st. The surgeon took all of my teeth out - no foolin'. My worst case dental nightmare has come to pass and however much I resemble a chipmunk, I am on the mend.

Although I have experienced new emotional lows during the last month leading to my surgery date, many of my feelings were identical to the
series of negative emotions that I felt almost fifty years ago on those rare visits to the dentist. Dental equipment at present, has undergone revolutionary improvement, and everything is on computer, but the feelings of dread, fear, worry, guilt, and shame haven't changed a lick since I was a kid.

We didn't mention dental problems like loose teeth, tooth aches, or cavities. No kid wanted to throw their family into a devastating financial crisis - which is what a trip to the doctor, the need for eyeglasses, or a visit to the dentist meant back then. No kid wanted to see the panicked look in their parent's eyes that screamed, "Where (the Hell) are we going to get the money?" It was bad enough that I needed new glasses every few years so I brushed my teeth, took the fluoride tests at school, and hoped for the best.
(I don't know to whom the above photo credit should go - but thanks for the laugh!)

The best was the toothfairy! If one managed to wiggle that baby tooth out or the old string and doorknob thing worked (we all did it at least once!) there was a payoff. Yep, the fairy was sure to leave a dime under one's pillow in exchange for an outgrown tooth. Later on due to inflation she started leaving two bits! The price of a comic book or some penny candy was much easier on most mom and dads than the cost of a cavity or the braces dentists always seemed to push. I didn't know any kids rich enough to have braces!

We know that the toothfairy takes away discarded baby teeth but what happens to an adult mouthful of worn but faithful chompers? You don't have to answer... but George
Washington's teeth went to the same place!

During the four days since undergoing life-altering surgical extractions in a dentist's chair I have been well cared for by family and friends. Catfish has been holding my hand, preparing liquid and soft things for me to eat, and making sure I get the pain meds on time. My aunt and my best friend have been taking turns by phone to check and to offer encouragement. Auntie sent me a cheerful "care package" with toys, some of those old-fashioned miniature wax bottles of pop, and two tubes of liquid lollipops?!? Close family friends sent flowers that were delivered today. I am fortunate and deeply appreciative of the love and care I've received. I am sure that all of this "goodness" is helping me to heal as well.

The financial view from the dental chair hasn't changed since I was a little girl except to become exponentially more expensive. Like all medical care here in the Richest Nation in the World, American dental care is a pricey form of legal extortion. The cost of the surgical extractions, temporary dentures, bone grafts, implants, and the final set of dentures that will complete my treatment forced us to take out an in office dental loan for several thousand. That we have, through my husband's place of employment, one of the better dental insurance plans available, belies the fact that before I am done, we will have to take out a second loan. I feel real bad that I am costing us so much.

The worry and guilt began to take hold well before Tuesday's operation especially since I could have saved us $550.00 if I'd been brave enough to undergo the surgery without the OPTIONAL ANESTHESIA! Yes, insurance companies consider ANESTHESIA to be an unnecessary extra. One may choose it only if they have cash in their pockets or are eligilbe for a loan! How many people are forced to endure pain because their wallets are empty? Why must money determine whether or not someone is made to endure pain? Oh, I forgot, Americans do torture.

Many Americans have no medical coverage and no dental coverage. I am lucky to have access to both care and coverage, but we are middle class, and these expenses are heavy duty. Neither of our two sons has dental coverage or access to care and one doesn't even have access to medical care. I worry about them all of the time.

I began this post by mentioning the range of emotions that have accom
panied my dental nightmare. Fear, yes, I had a lot of fear and dread while anticipating the surgery, the pain, and the swelling. Now the fear and dread are centered on the temporary set of dentures ever being adjusted enough to fit and of the final set of dentures fitting. I am told all of this takes many months - it is a process. The temporaries, which were put in right away, don't fit at all - they are set at the wrong angle too far in and I can't chew. I don't want my mouth and chin line changed because the replacement teeth are structured wrong... worry and dread.

I've been told that things have improved since George Washington couldn't chew with these...

Shame has been a factor, too. Shame at having a reoccurring dental disease and unhealthy teeth most of my life. Shame for not having gone to the dentist many times in my life when I couldn't afford it and shame to opting NOT to have a procedure done because I could not pay for ANESTHESIA. Shame that I did not floss correctly. I have been ashamed about my teeth most of my life because they were not straight and were troublesome. My mother used to cover her mouth with her hand because of her teeth and avoided having photos taken. My husband remembers his mother melting wax from a candle to fill in painful cavities because she could not afford to go the dentist. She felt shame, too!

Lastly, I am angry but not at my situation. I'll get through this, adapt, and go on with my life. I am angry that some Americans are going without medical care because other Americans have chosen to make money from misery! Americans are stressed out of their minds for lack of care.

People in Europe are healthier, happier, and do not suffer stress anywhere near American levels. The "Quality of Life" available to the majority of Europeans is superior to that of Americans because Europe's wealth is in "caring about and for its people". Dental, eye, and medical care is available to everyone. No shame, worry, dread, and no going without or poverty induced by medical expenses.

This is a country of profit and greed where money is the only measure of value - to hell with it! Let's get the corporate monkeys off of our backs and change our attitude and our systems. We can start by taking care of one another.

- Kitchen Window Woman

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Blogger Buffalo said...

I once had great health and dental insurance. The dental went first. I had to drop the health when the monthly premium climbed to just short of $700.00 a month. If I wasn't elgible for the VA I'd be screwed. Finding a dentist that will work on the pay weakly plan is difficult and forget finding an optomitrist.

10:08 PM  
Blogger The Future Was Yesterday said...

"This is a country of profit and greed where money is the only measure of value - to hell with it! Let's get the corporate monkeys off of our backs and change our attitude and our systems. We can start by taking care of one another."
I read of your dental travails and being responsible as a kid "for those expensive glasses" with a lot of understanding. I failed the 4th grade, despite my teacher saying I was one of her brightest students. I couldn't see the blackboard, and there were no seats close enough. Finally the truth was coaxed out of me, and I begged them not to tell my parents, but they did. That first pair of glasses was heavier than the world it seemed, for they carried the guilt of "it's all my fault." To this day, I've never forgotten that feeling. As you said, we are the richest nation on earth - yet there are more kids who can't see today than ever. It is absolutely criminal!!

10:11 PM  
Blogger deuddersun said...

Amen Sister. I have a co-worker who is very Conservative. His attitude is "tough shit" if a person can't afford health care. It must be due to a lazy, underachieving personality disorder. I have to wonder how a Union guy can feel that way, but, apparently, many do. I guess their own lazy asses are covered so to hell with everyone-else. You are so right when you say we must take our country back and put it;s greatest national asset, it's people, first before profits.

As to the denture thing. Don't worry. You will get used to them. Right now, your poor, little face is trying hard to recover. In a short time, your new teeth will be ready and you will look as beautiful as you always have. Hell, look at me!


6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If love could heal your mouth and make those teeth work the way that they should, I would surely and happily pay that ransom!!

At the hour that you were under going the surgery (taking into account the time difference), I stood with my hands upon my teeth and tried with all my might to send healing positive energy to you.

I could not agree more with Dueddersun when he said that "your poor little face is trying hard to recover." Time and patience are now your best friends.

Big hugs to you my dear niece.

PS: had to use anonymous because I forgot my password.

3:07 PM  
Blogger moderate said...

Ouch, Little Sister! Forget what deudderson said...you will undoubtedly look far, far better than he ever will! Keep the faith...we all love you.


12:45 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

So glad to find you blogging again. I had just found your blog and was afraid you weren't ever going to post.

I can but imagine what you have been through. My husband has the VA for himself, I have nothing because we too cannot afford either health or dental insurance. Luckily we can go the University of Iowa dental school, and I can get the work done very cheaply. Still, I'm looking at a complete removal soon, my teeth are so bad, and I'm no way looking forward to it.

So glad you are back to the blogging world again. :)

2:05 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

My eldest son is a disabled vet and is getting medical care from the VA here but it offers, as you mentioned, no dental care unless it is from service related injury. The army did some real bad dental work on his teeth while he was in, and then denied him his final dental screening before ETSing. The fillings have fallen out- but the VA won't correct their shoddy work.

It is terrible that the majority of Americans are left to fall through the cracks while our tax dollars provide comfortable care for the parasitic ruling class!

I was in the fifth grade and couldn't see. The teacher came to our house and told my parents to get me glasses. During my school years I broke several pairs of glasses so I was very familiar with the "it's all my fault" feeling. It's awful to feel that way as a kid. This must be Deja Vu. Here I am approaching 60 and revisiting the same feelings in regard to the expense of dental work.

It's terrible that we do not take care of people - why else have a government? Today, many families with insurance can't even use it because the co-pays are way too high to be affordable. Everyone from baby to grandpa has been left hanging while across the globe, we've been financing the utter destruction of millions of other people - who also go without medical care.

I hate that "lazy" excuse for the bone-crushing indifference that passes as compassionate conservatism. What a stinkin' crock!

You look just fine to me! Thanks for the encouragement - I have been struggling to accept this. I am still healing and real tired but a little better each day.

Thanks for the good vibes - I've been putting them to use. And thanks for the box o' toys and other goodies. I've been enjoying all the neat stuff.

Yep, OUCH! And thank you for your kind words. I guess it is just going to take some time. I am very thankful to have such wonderful friends and family.

I usually post about once a week sometimes more, sometimes less depending on what is going on around here. When I had this surgery done it just knocked me out for awhile. It is very had to think or write while taking Vicodin! I haven't been on line much to visit blogs or write as reading was hard and I spent a lot of time lying down with packs on my face to reduce swelling.

I am so sorry to hear that you are facing the same ordeal. Boy, did we luck out, huh?

It's good that you have care available from the University. I've been told by the dentist that if periodontal disease is present (like I've had on and off for years) there is a constant low grade infection throughout the body. This constant infection wears one down and makes one prone to other illnesses. So one of the results of a complete removal is the end of infection and an overall improvement in health. I let you know if I start to feel that much better but first I've got to get past this part of healing.

My aunt, like you doesn't have medical care either. I think we are going to really have to fight to get universal coverage like they have in Canada and Europe. The insurance industry has got to go!

2:37 PM  
Blogger Naj said...


I am very happy to have randomly clicked on your comment today, from Anon-Paranoid's blog.

This was a very poignant post; and I am going to add you to my blogroll right now before I forget.

The story of anesthetics being a "luxury" is ABSOLUTELY abhorring; it's a human right's scandal!

In a country where MILLIONS of dollars go to pain research (that will be benefited from by Pharmaceuticals); where the running myth is that they go to WAR to alleviate other's "PAIN", to administer dental care WITHOUT anesthetics is just as scandalous as practicing water-boarding!

Hope you will be well soon.
Naj of NeoResistance

6:12 AM  
Blogger deuddersun said...

Hey KWW, just wanted to check in and see how you're doing. I hope you are feeling much better now that a little time has passed. I have found that an aspirin or two, washed down with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black can do wonders for pain!

Hang in there Sister!


6:33 AM  
Blogger moderate said...

my brother, d, makes sense. I wanted to see how you were doing as well...hope the pain is subsiding and things are beginning to look up. Hugs..

3:58 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

I do not know why anesthesia is not covered by insurance. It should be!

You are right - millions are spent in this country but unfortunately not on the people who live here. Our tax dollars money go to wage war and that is truly scandalous!

Thank you, I am doing my best to get well.

Thanks for checking on me you. I am feeling somewhat better. The initial pain was well covered by a combination of Mortin and Vicadin.

The worst of the pain is gone - I still have a colorful bruise on my cheek near my lower jaw and a wee bit of swelling. There is mostly discomfort that works up to pain. I am just using the Motrin I take for my bad knee.

I still can't chew much at all so only soft and soup. Auntie suggested smoothies so I bought a book and some soy protein powder and fruit and have been creating some healthy blender concoctions. I was also really jazzed, several days ago, to be able to have some tender chicken breast meat cut really small.

The hardest thing is the tiredness and sometimes dizziness. I have zero energy and tire out after doing just a few things so I haven't been on line much and can't think enough to write a blog. The dentist said that this is normal for recovery and told me to rest but GEEZ ... for how long?

Fortunately, there have been some good old movies on TV - saw Rhapsody in Blue and The Fabulous Dorseys yesterday.

I hope you both and all of my API bro's are well and happy. Hugs to all!

8:15 PM  
Blogger deuddersun said...

All will pass Sister, like so much of life's travails. We look forward to your complete recovery.

Time will heal you, as it always has. You may have bad memories, but they cannot dim the beauty that radiates from your soul, the Real KWW.

Rest and get well. You are our Sister and we love you.


6:49 PM  
Blogger Anon-Paranoid said...

Hi kww...

Sorry to hear about all the pain you had with this dental surgery. I've had three removed within the past year and I had to go to an oral surgeon for two of them.

I did it with just the Novocain and endured the pain without to much trouble.

I think that I would not like to go through what you did and when the day comes I lose all my teeth I'll just start gummin to death, that is the food I eat. LOL...LOL...

My grandfather had only one tooth still when he was in his eighties and he could still eat steak. If he could do it so can I.

Take care and get well...

God Bless.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Alien Trucker said...

Sorry to hear about that fun ol' oral surgery.
I discovered your site the other day and enjoyed reading through it.It has become a place I visit now and since you haven't posted lately I am going through your archives. You have a lot of good things to say.
I hope you don't mind that I put it in my blogroll.
Looking forward to seeing you back up and around soon.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Janice said...

Hi, KWW.

I have the same shame, the same bad teeth and have been fretting about my own issues. I had to give up popcorn because I cracked a front tooth. Most of the rest of the front are bad, etc... I decided that I won't hide my smile, I won't feel shame. When people say something about the up and down crack I say, "yes, it's cracked and even though I have insurance I can't afford to fix them." You have my best wishes and prayers for a quick recovery. Also, please say hello to your daughter from me and my daughter. :-) Janice (interesting note, the word verification for this post is decay)

7:40 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

Sorry to hear that you have similar dental problems. I am glad that you have decided to smile anyway. Maybe we can fix the insurance "protection racket" so that if actually benefits people who are in need of medical care. My daughter says hello to you and your daughter. Take care and Peace.

10:17 PM  
Anonymous Katterine's cost of braces said...

I agree that the prices of dentistry are out of control. And although I was able to save $1500 on my braces through dentalcool, I think the real reason for high expenses is not capitalism per se but the connection between the government and the companies or organizations. For example in case of dental, ADA. Restrictions through ADA are so severe that the annointed few dentists who get through can command super high prices as a monopoly of sorts. The government should prevent monopolies, not support them!

12:20 PM  

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