Saturday, April 06, 2013
jawing with the dentist
Blogging is an interesting pursuit.
You think you have a great topic and start writing about it. Permanent resident visa. Wall construction. Internet access to my bank account. And, right in mid-sentence, a better story wanders on stage.
I will let you know about those other three topics in a day or two. But today, class, we are back to one of the chief reasons I live in Mexico. High quality, affordable health care. Something Canada and the United States are never going to see with their current setups.
While I was in Oregon in January, I started developing a small infection on my left upper molar. It didn't seem like much. Almost as if I had trapped a bit of popcorn kernel between my teeth.
But I was not so lucky. Within days, it had become so infected, I could not close my teeth together. What was odd is that I knew I had had a root canal on that tooth. The pain was not coming from the tooth.
My house sitter could not take any more of my belly and tooth-aching, and drove me to Salem Hospital's emergency room. I predicted I had either a severe case of gingivitis, an abscess, or bone damage.
I will fast forward through this part of the story. The 12-year old doctor who examined me could not give me a diagnosis, but he did insist on prescriptions for antibiotics (that I did take) and Vicodin (that I did not). His sole advice: see a dentist.
The total expense? $479.92 (US) for the hospital and $253 (US) for the doctor.
In February I had a relapse. My Mexican doctor examined me ($300 MX -- $24.48 US) and prescribed another dose of antibiotics ($246 MX -- $20.07 US). You might notice a slight disparity between the Mexican and American medical costs.
I was hoping I could avoid a trip to the dentist. The hope was short-lived.
This week, the pain returned and my gum began to severely recede. There was no more putting off what needed to be done.
So, I sat myself down in Dr. Pimienta's chair, explained my situation, and he was deep in my mouth before I could say "where's the needle?"
I am not a fan of dentists. Even though I am not certain why. I have a rather high tolerance for pain. But I managed once to sprain a finger while having my teeth cleaned. Let's just say I have a rather complex relationship with the drill set.
If I had not been repeatedly pressing down on the infected area with my tongue, I would have been shocked at the level of pain that shot through me when he stuck his probe underneath my gum and asked if I could feel that he was hitting bone immediately. I could.
His diagnosis. Neither gingivitis nor an abscess. I had some serious bone deterioration going on. And that meant potentially a rather big surgery -- a bone graft from a dentist in Guadalajara.
Color me odd, but I am rather excited about the possibility of experiencing a new surgery. I suspect that it is hideously painful -- at least it holds that promise. But it could be an interesting foray into Mexican medicine. And I will do next to anything for a good story.
But the surgery appointment will need to go on hold until I return from my drive north. So, Dr. Pimienta packed my gums with an antibiotic and sent me on my way.
Oh, wait, I forgot something. For all of that treatment, my dental bill was $300 (MX). $24.48 (US). What it would have cost to park a car at an American hospital.
Next month, I will undoubtedly see the specialist in Guadalajara to determine if a bone graft is really what I need.
Until then, I am keeping my teeth crossed that the pain holds off.