Old Number Two and the Fresh Green Bozo (Part II)


The dental x-ray didn’t come out right so I do some more gagging and we take another picture.  It’s also a no-show so the FGB calls in the real dentist again.  The real dentist gets the picture on the first shot, no gagging.  Then we go back to the drill-file-and-twitch routine.

The technician keeps telling me to open wider; I’m open as wide as I can stand; my jaw starts trembling from the stress.  The Fresh Green Bozo’s hand slips and the tool he’s using cuts the inside of my mouth.

The Fresh Green Bozo (FGB) is now drilling away at the decay.  It goes deep.  He goes and gets the real dentist; they stand together, look mournful and sound troubled.  Old Number Two has got a headlock on the Fresh Green Bozo and is looking for a take-down.  The decay goes deeper and deeper; the FGB follows it in, pausing at one point to indicate the chart on the wall, point out where the decay is appearing below the gum line, and explain that if it really goes below the gum line then, well, ah, we won’t be able to save it.

The FGB drills some more then leaves the room: clearly, Old Number Two has won this match.  The tooth has got to be pulled.  It is now 11:40 a.m.  I have been in the chair, in pain, for nearly an hour and a half:  can I take any more?

The Fresh Green Bozo and the real dentist come back and tell me what I already know then the FGB sounds optimistic and confident about pulling Old Number Two.  He knows, by God, how to pull a tooth.  He unclamps me, removes the sterile drape, and—AHHHH SHIT!—shoots some anesthetic into the roof of my mouth.

It is pain on top of pain and when he gloms onto Old Number Two, it’s pain again.  He does this and that and this and that, and rocks Old Number Two back and forth.  My cries of pain increase.  The FGB goes out and gets the real dentist.  The real dentist starts rocking the tooth back and forth.  I cry out on the backstroke and whimper on the forward stroke.  I can’t take any more; my hands and feet are tingling and waves of nausea are washing over me.  The real dentist calls for oxygen and tells the FGB to get a blood pressure on me.  He can’t.  I quit.

Enough, too much, I quit.  Pain, pain, pain.  Leave me alone; go away; refer me out to the surgeon who sticks me with a needle and lets me sleep through all the crunching.  Old Number Two has beaten us all.

But what has really beaten me is the poor people’s medical system.  Poor people get Medicaid but Medicaid doesn’t pay enough to attract the good dentists who, after all, can pick and choose whom they see and what they do.  Regular dentists don’t accept Medicaid so Medicaid recipients are shuffled into clinics that are staffed by fresh green bozos.  The world is a hard place; we all must learn somewhere so why not use poor people as the practice population for dentists in training?

Well, alas and alack, there aren’t enough of them to go around.  It takes months to get an appointment.  The tooth that is bad in February is unsalvageable in June.  Delayed treatment is no treatment, which is poor people’s medicine.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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