27 April 2006

The Dental Saga - Second Opinion

I'm no morning person but I dragged my rural ass off to the dentist this morning. Dentist number two, named Dr. Willie. I was scheduled for a root canal, since I was referred and discovered his prices were a bit less expensive. The only appointment was bright and early at 8 in the morning. I can't believe people actually function this early. As I walked there at 7:30 a.m. I saw joggers and cyclists and envied them. The only place I would jog to at 7:30 in the morning would be right back to bed (of course, in my mind I image myself jogging in slow motion and dramatically leaping into a pile of warm blankets).

Dr. Willie's office was confusing and a bit disorganized but it gave it a sense of friendliness that way. A real and down to earth kind of atmosphere. The receptionist and hygienist were full of smiles and cheer (but not overwhelming). Instead of an office full of sterile dental certificates and diplomas, I was surrounded by sports memorabilia and news articles of my dentist when he was younger (quite the local sports champ). Instead of a nagging poster about dental health, there was a large framed portrait of hockey's Rocket Richard. A bit different than most dentist offices I have visited in the past.

They did a series of x-rays for my teeth. The dentist himself inspected my teeth thoroughly, namely the tooth I'm concerned about and that was to undergo the canal of the root. He made me bite down to make an imprint of that tooth. Apparently, this tooth is the first tooth that meets my teeth when I bite down. Namely, just one edge of it and since I grind/clench my teeth in my sleep I'm bound to feel it more. He shaved a bit off the tooth so I wouldn't have as much pressure and so that my teeth will fit together more efficiently.

Dr. Willie seems like a real hands-on guy. You know how some dentists are very careful with how they touch your face when they are doing work on your teeth? Well, he's not. I mean, he's careful with the teeth but he was hands-on all over my face (that sounds dirty). I'm surprised my drawn-on eyebrows aren't all over my forehead! I did have to fix my bangs though. I'm not complaining, he made me feel good. He didn't give me a lecture. He said I have "some good teeth there" and patted me on the face a few times.

The 2nd opinion verdict? After looking at the x-rays and according to Dr. Willie, I do not need a root canal! He said he can't see it in the x-ray, he can't even see the small beginnings of a problem. So my situation pretty much went from $2000 to possibly less than $200 as of right now. He shaved the tooth and said to wait a week to see if anything happens or if pain occurs. In a week or so, I will go back to get a filling done (that happens to be right next to the newly cropped and problematic tooth). He says I have a few things to take care of in the future but nothing in need of immediate care as long as we both keep an eye on it.

All I can say is I'm relieved. Looks like I can take me and my tooth backpacking through Europe afterall! Haha.

25 April 2006

I Went to the Dentist and All I Got Was a Lousy Tooth Towel

I used to be very afraid of the dentist. So much so, that I neglected to go for years. I think I was scarred from my childhood dentist. His breath smelled of corn chips and he seemed like a sweaty fellow. I recall, not with fondness, one trip to the dentist where he was working inches away from my face while the radio played “I Like a Man with a Slow Hand”. I still get shivers thinking about that, for all the wrong reasons.

I used to cry every time I was taken to the dentist. Growing up, I fought back the tears as well. To be completely honest with you, even as an adult I still want to cry whenever I visit the dentist. That part reminds me of being a child. However, the reasons for crying are much more “adult” now. I do not cry in honour of the potential pain. I cry for the bill at the end of each wonderful visit. Today was no exception.

Before I go on to tell you about today, I will tell you about recent experiences in regards to going to the dentist. A few years back I finally worked up the courage to see a dentist in my hometown. After damn near hyperventilating and having a panic attack in the chair, I was fine. It still wasn’t my ideal of fun, but I got over it and I was proud. We had an action plan for my teeth and I spent a lot of my own hard earned money (no insurance) getting my teeth fixed up. I won’t get into the part of having the nastiest abscess that made my cheek swell up like a balloon. Let’s just say, even the hygienist was mortified.

Needless to say, I spent a lot of bling on my teefs. I eventually got a job downtown and changed dentists due to convenience. This dentist was great! He looked and sounded like Ned Flanders and gave me a mall discount. His work was not shabby either. He ended up rebuilding a certain tooth in my mouth and warned me, there could be eventual problems with it.

Months after moving to Montreal, I have terrible wisdom teeth pain. I go to see a very experienced, high falooting dentist - the one I saw today. We have a consultation, complete with a wacky mouth camera which I see my teeth on a monitor. Sounds wacky, right? Well, no. At that moment, I discover something. Either my teeth are rotting at an amazing and spectacular rate – or the dentist in my hometown royally screwed me over in terms of professional work. I think the latter. So current dentist points out all the work to be done and asks me, “How does this make you feel?”

I blubbered, “It makes me sad.” I almost cried that day. I probably did when I got home.

Armed with a new action plan for my teeth (which includes a night mouth guard because I’ve suffered damaged and get headaches from grinding and clenching my teeth at night), I go home and realize that I am sadly unemployed. I don’t look at the sheet for a while because I know I cannot afford all that needs to be done.

And that brings us up to today. My teeth are hurting again. This time, the tooth Ned Flanders warned me about. I go in for a cleaning/exam at current dentist’s office. Everything is going fine. I’m relaxed. My hygienist is this gothic looking girl with a lip piercing. Everything is A-OK. Then the dentist comes in and ruins it all, with his all-knowing dentist ways. Boo.

On the semi-dark bright side, I have no more new work that needs to be done in my mouth (by the dentist I mean, bah-ha). My teeth barely had any tartar or build-up, which is good because I haven’t had a cleaning in while. For a parting gift, I received a tooth brush, the most wicked dental floss in the world (that I have been too cheap to buy recently), a miniature tube of toothpaste and a “tooth towel”. For a bonus, a little front desk receptionist cleavage. Ha ha.

On the grim and pitch black side, I need a root canal and received a pleasant lecture from the dentist about taking care of your teeth right away. Then he compared what price it could have been compared to now. Thanks, dentist. I really needed to know that. Ned Flanders would have broke it to me gently. And this was the exact moment when I wanted to cry in the dentist chair.

The verdict is that I need a root canal. It’s recommended that I get a crown, to insure the safety of this tooth for the years to come.

Price tag, according to my dentist - $2000.

Honest to God, how does one act “normal” when they hear that ONE tooth will cost them $2000. I tried, but I think I failed. I pretty much looked like I swallowed a handful of glass shards and rusty nails. I could do A LOT with $2000, I thought then and still thinking now. And believe me; it wouldn’t include spending money on one tooth. Sweet baby Jesus, I could send me and my disgruntled to Las fucking Vegas with that money. Me and my disgruntled tooth could “find ourselves”, while backpacking in Europe with that money. That sweet, sweet money that I do not have. SIGH. I wonder if they have a plan where they can just knock my tooth out and give me a supply of freaking Chiclets to jam up my gums. Fuck.

Yeah, I’m making jokes but this worries me. I do not have the money for this at all. I know, obviously, that there are people in worse shape than me and I shouldn’t complain. Count my blessings. Well, I don’t exactly have two thousand blessings to count and it stresses me out. At a time I felt that perhaps I could finally get a bit ahead and have myself some savings for the future and fun stuff and maybe even a new living space in time – I feel kicked back down again, in terms of money. Makes me wish I was a kid again.

I’m calling another guy tomorrow to get a second opinion on this tooth. I know it will be expensive but anything less (but not too cheap, meaning done in some sketchy back alley) than $2000 will be helpful on ye olde bare wallet.

23 April 2006

Venus Flytrap Pics 2005

With spring in the air, I felt compelled to share some old photos of my Venus Flytrap. I hope that in the near future, I will be able to take some more recent ones of my plants! What fascinating little creatures they are!

22 April 2006

Pat On My Back and a Sore Tooth

Life has been fairly uneventful lately. And I’m not complaining. Days seem quiet, nights feel relaxed – there’s a sense of balance in my life. There are the beginnings of green on the trees and a smile on my face – I feel at ease, at peace. It is spring. I breathe a big sigh of relief, at getting past winter.

To those who know me well, I have tendencies of droopiness. I’m a dweller, a brooder in my own mood. I can let sleep’s bad dreams ruin my entire day and I can turn a slightly bad mood into something fiercely depressing. I have spent entire days on the couch, in gloomy dwellery.

I proposed to myself this year, I will try to be happier. Call it a New Year’s Resolution, if you will. I already understood that I was a good person and that I do not ruin my every day with a sour mood. What I did see, was that I brooded around every so often which certainly made an impression my daily life in terms of this city, where I am living, and what I am doing. I knew I needed some inner changes to bring simple happiness into my life more fully otherwise I was going to make people around me miserable. I was going to always point out the negative and not take stock in all the good that regularly surrounds me.

My goal here is not to be continuously happy like some sort of salesman bent on commission. That would drive me crazy and simply be not “me”. My goal was to be happy, be grateful, and see the beauty in life. To be good to myself, to better myself in the long run. I’m tired of being self-destructive with my own moods.

Since the beginning of this year, I have written everyday for myself. I have taken special notice to what I am grateful for everyday. I have been reading, as usual. I have taken time-outs for me. I have improved on communicating. I have been giving attention to the small details that make up the proverbial big picture. I have gotten in touch with my crafty side. My fingernails even look a little less bitten! Small steps, indeed.

It’s a work-in-progress.

However, I think I deserve a wee pat on the back. Daily writing has done me wonders, as well as taking note in what I am grateful for on an everyday basis. It’s been a long time since I felt like wasting away a day in my misery. I find that I walk a little taller (despite my bad posture!). I find that little things about people around me bother me a lot less and I can brush them off easier. The level of worry I carry has shrunk a bit. I know when I need to relax and I think it shows that I have been taking care of myself. I feel more confident in myself and getting what I want. Even if no one else has noticed, I know I have and that’s what matters the most.

On a different note, work has given me a break to collect my thoughts and feel healthy. There’s a hold on the upcoming project, so it’s the waiting game again. I welcome this break. I feel like I have been slowly falling apart this week! Nothing major, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. First was a cut on my finger, that has taken it’s time to heal (yet, I am oddly intrigued by it). Secondly, since everyone was sick at work and the heating was messed up to the point feeling like we were working in the heart of the tropics – it lead me to feel like I was getting sick. My immune system terribly down and the heat terribly high at work, I felt like I was wading in everybody’s germs. Oh, and then the best part. Dental aches! The pain is thankfully not excruciating, but I know it will eventually be if it is not taken care of soon. It’s left me mentally exhausted. I go in on Tuesday for an exam/checkup. I expect the procedure after that will make me cry. I will mourn for money that could be spent on shoes and makeup and not on a disgruntled tooth.

In other news, a few weeks ago I brought home another stray much to my better half’s delight. I tell him I could be bringing in animals or begging him to make babies – no, instead I bring home carnivorous plants from the nasty living conditions of Home Depot. We named him Richard. Richard the Pitcher Plant – Nepenthes. It’s been a few weeks and he has perked up so much! He’s green, his pitchers are growing noticeably everyday, and I think he’s taken to his new home. We also replanted the Venus Flytraps into new pots and soil (which was a great difficulty to find in Montreal). They look much more healthy too – finally able to stretch their legs in their new home! The spikes on their traps have gotten longer as well. Weedy, the jack pine seedling…well, he’s special. I’m convinced he is growing, just very slowly. In about 40 years from now, he will be a bonsai tree.

That’s all for now. Time to tend to my tooth, with pain killers.

02 April 2006

March 2006 Books

March was full (well, not that full) of non-fiction nonsense. I wish I could power read and get paid for it. Alas, reading doesn't pay my bills. I wonder if people would pay money to view me on a web cam, curled up on the couch (fully clothed) and reading? Hmm.

1) A Venom in the Blood - Eric Von Hoffman
So after reading the thick collection of selected stories by Truman Capote, I decided my brain needed cheese. I picked up a couple of true crime serial killer books from the nearby used bookstore. This one was about Gerald and Charlene Gallego. It's poorly written, but these kind of books aren't designed for the literary elite. At the beginning, it was as though some cliche 80's movie cop was narrating. The kind of narrator that uses the word "gritty" and "grisly" too many times. Then it kind of just trailed off and left the cop's narration behind. I began to read this book when the better half went out of town. Needless to say, that night I slept with a baseball bat. On another note, later in the month I had a dream of Charlene Gallego. She was getting it on with the male membered Murial Hemingway.

2) Henry Lee Lucas : The Shocking True Story of America's Most Notorious Serial Killer - Dr. Joel Morris
See above, sans cliche 80's cop narration. I did learn, however, from reading these two books that both males had severe issues with mommy. This book passed time, but didn't really give me a scare. Too many technical details and not enough gritty/grisly (heh).

3) Them - Joyce Carol Oates
My lovely friend Nicole told me a while back that I should pick up this writer's novel called Zombie. Due to my absent-mindedness, I picked up this one. Them, zombies...there was a bit of confusion in ye olde noggin. This was one of those, "don't judge a book by it's cover" deals. Judging by the bad artwork, I was convinced that this was going to be a heap of dump. Much to my surprise, it was not. It was actually a decent read. Very detailed characters and situations. She really captures the essence of a messed up family. It was depressing and grey, the patterns of problems handed down from one generation to the next made the story bleak. She apparently adapted this story from a girl she actually met, through teaching a writing class. Not a bad read!

4) Paddle to the Amazon - Don Starkell
I've never been in a canoe. I don't know how to swim that well. And wilderness adventures don't appeal to me. However, I like to read about them from the comfort of my couch. I found this at the used bookstore and I couldn't resist it. I have a weakness for stories from home and writers from the prairies. A true adventure, Don Starkell and his son broke a Guinness World Record for the longest canoe ride on this journey. They started from the Red River in Winnipeg and ended up at the mouth of the Amazon. It took about two and a half years. This book is written in journal form, which appealed to me even more. It was very interesting, what he saw and what they encountered on their watery travels (including many South Americans holding guns to their heads). I'm now fully convinced that the cast of LOST should honestly be stricken with sea salt wounds, patches of dry, sunburned skin on their lips, and bug bites. Also, someone should have malaria by now and/or eat some fruit full of worms but only to be realised after it's been half eaten. Or maybe I just want the episodes to get more interesting, haha.

5) The Vegetarian's Cookbook - Nicola Graimes (editor)
One might say, a cookbook is not worthy of a mention. However, I disagree. Any book that inspires me to make soup should get a nod. This was a gift from my sister, who happened to be a month late in wishing me a happy birthday. I haven't put this book down! Almost every day I seem to discover some new and non-intimidating recipe. Potato leek soup! Naan bread! Fajitas! Ole! The recipes are easy, the photographs are helpful, and it's a smaller book (I like small hard cover books, like the nerd I am). There are chapters on the nutrition values on certain food, introductories to different veggies/legumes/fruit/spices/etc. I'm so lazy and often intimidated by cooking and I actually feel inspired to make a fine meal. And I will, oh yes!

Favourite Book of March?
The Vegetarian's Cookbook - Nicola Graimes (editor)

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