Google reminded me this morning that I have a dental cleaning appointment in two weeks.
Through the sweep of the last four months living under plague conditions, I haven’t done anything that made me particularly nervous. Going for groceries didn’t bother me. Stopping off at Asian Garden for a carryout order of General Tso’s and some egg rolls didn’t feel particularly threatening. Even a quick pop into one of my favorite book shops, depopulated of customers, was fine.
The idea of sitting calmly, unmasked, while someone hovers inches from my face while prodding, poking, scraping, and kicking up the dreaded aerosolized droplets, and “defenseless” against whatever the patient before me kicked up, leaves me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Score one for my highly developed sense of self preservation, I guess.
I’m sure my dentist is following whatever protocols are required to make the experience reasonably safe… which does nothing to eliminate that nagging, and probably completely unreasonable thought that it feels like some kind of high-risk maneuver best avoided at the moment.
At the moment, I’m leaning soft no, but with two weeks to go you can count on me to spend an inordinate amount of time overthinking the situation and creating entire universes of arguments in favor and against. That gives me room to change my mind twenty or thirty times before it really matters.
1. Inefficiency. Look, I’m delighted that Big Pharma is reimbursing me 93% of my out of pocket costs for the meds that one of the smart docs from Hopkins tells me will contribute to being able to continue to living better through chemistry. I’d be even more appreciative if their reimbursement scheme allowed for ordering more than a 30-day supply of the stuff at a time. Everything else rolls in as a 3-month supply that’s simple enough to refill once a quarter except this one little pill. It feels like I’m online getting that one refilled or coordinating the refund about every seven days. If you’re going to spend the money either way you could save us both processing time and effort by doing it four times a year instead of 12.
2. Single points of failure. The world is full of people who want to gather all decision making and power unto themselves. I’ve never understood that particular logic for several reasons. First, the ones who seem to be drawn to absolute power are generally the last ones who should be engaged in decision making. Second, there’s nothing more ridiculous than a few dozen people standing around knowing what needs done but being paralyzed for lack of having someone explicitly telling them to do it.
3. Consistency in the space program. I really wish we lived in a country that had consistent and achievable, manned and unmanned space exploration goals. I want NASA to be above politics and be maybe the one instrument of government that is the best reflection of ourselves. I want to see big rockets with the stars and stripes plastered to the side hurtling American astronauts back to the moon and then getting their ass to Mars. To think that’s not the next logical step in exploration is nonsensical and flies in the face of humanity’s eternal struggle to expand into the unknown. Other people will tell you this should be way down on the list of priorities, but those people are wrong and should be quiet.
I’ve definitely acquired some kind of crud. Since everyone at the office seems to be hacking or wheezing with something, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Our cube set up so closely approximates a late 19th century tenement that I’m surprised there aren’t reports of cholera outbreaks from the back of the room.
As sickness goes, the nagging cough and steady drip from my nose is far from the worst thing going around. It’s enough to be obnoxious – and enough to drive me deeper into the arms of Big Pharma to find some relief. The side effect of the OTC cocktail I whipped up, though, is the really delightful feeling of being just shy of stoned through a good portion of the day. I should probably apologize to anyone who got an email from me today. The spelling, punctuation, and even message itself is likely suspect.
I don’t really feel bad and I suppose that is the small mercy. I’m already burning enough sick leave this week on appointments that I’d really like to avoid wasting more of it on actually being sick.
A few months back I’m pretty sure I cracked a tooth, or to be more specific I’m pretty sure I re-cracked a tooth that I had fixed about a decade ago. It only caused minimal and occasional discomfort and could be easily ignored. We seem, currently, to have slowly worked our way past discomfort and are edging into the legitimate pain category. I’m going to go ahead and blame the sudden appearance of cold weather since it appears to be introduction of cold air that’s set off the sensation of someone occasionally jamming a teeny tiny ice pick into my jaw.
This, of course, is where my problem starts. You see it’s not so much that I’m afraid of the dentist, per se. The one’s I’ve met seem like decent enough human beings and individually are not a fear-educing bunch. I am, however, entirely and completely in favor of avoiding pain for as long as possible. This, unfortunately, has now caused me a dilemma. At some point in the near future this untreated tooth is going to start being more than an occasional discomfort. That may be weeks or months from now. An appointment at my local dentist is a guarantee of pain and a sure and certain time. It’s one of the few occasions in life where I generally prefer the unknown future to the known.
Yes, I know this is a ridiculous approach towards dental health. Yes, I know I should have had it taken care of months ago. Yes, I know it’s utterly out of character for a guy who thrives on adding things to a list and getting them knocked off as quickly as possible. I’m unpredictable like that.
I also know that the last three times I’ve walked into a dentist’s office for anything more than a cleaning I’ve walked out chewing on a couple of thousand dollars worth of bills to pay. Pain in the mouth. Pain in the wallet. Completely ridiculous or not, there’s no doubt in my own head why my approach to “modern, painless” dentistry is so often avoidance.
Yeah, it’s a day of thanks and all, but it’s still a Thursday and no matter how thankful we are, that’s no reason to just ignore the annoyances that continue to be so plentiful.
1. Federalized healthcare. I’m really starting to wonder when the powers that be are going to fess up that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been a cluster and push it back. From my reading, it’s a goat rope that hasn’t seemed to improve much over the last six weeks and doesn’t seem likely to improve much over the next six. I think a president who stepped back, admitted that his people screwed the pooch, and focused in on Launch 2.0 might actually earn himself some goodwill. But you know me, I’m a crazy optimist.
2. Appeasement. I know that Prime Minister Chamberlain, errr… President Obama is expecting “peace in our time” with Iran, but it feels a bit like we’re giving away the whole damned store and getting nothing to speak of in return. Time was “because we said so” was a perfectly reasonable approach to take with a belligerent nation whose stated foreign policy is to destroy the United States and our closest allies. I’m not sure I even recognize what’s passing for foreign policy these days. The world is a dangerous place and doesn’t get any less dangerous when we roll over and play dead on the important issues.
3. Food. So. Much. Food. I’ve never thought about bulimia, but there’s a first time for everything.
1. Bullying. If the media is to be believed, basically every form of social interaction is now considered bullying. Look, I get that we want to protect kids from all the mean, nasty things in the world, but the fact is sometimes the world is just a mean nasty place. There were plenty of bullies around 20 years ago when I was in school. I’m sure there were plenty 50 years ago, too. It’s not exactly like this is some new danger society has never faced before. Is bullying wrong? Of course it is. Should we be aware of it and try to reduce it? Of course. Once upon a time, if you stood up to a typical bully they went away. From the news coverage of those who choose to off themselves or shoot up the place in response to a bully’s taunts, I wonder if we’ve collectively raised a generation that simply doesn’t know how to actually stand up for themselves rather than immediately lurching to the extremes.
2. Healthcare.gov. I’m pretty sure if my boss gave me three years and $500 million and told me to build a website, he might have some actual expectations that at the end of three years I’d have at least a working prototype. Sure, it might need some of the rough edges smoothed out over time, but the damn thing would have at least the basic functionalities built in – like being able to register as a user. If at some point in the process, I realized things weren’t working out, I’d at least have the stones to fire off a red star cluster and call for assistance. Instead, we have a dysfunction website that no one is willing to be accountable for screwing up. Maybe I’m just doing the whole work thing wrong. It could be time to go see what jobs Health and Human Services has available. An employer with no actual expectations would have to be a pretty relaxing gig.
3. Buying off the rack. I’m not now, nor have I ever been a small guy. A side effect of this is my neck has to be correspondingly thick to support the giant gourd that sits atop it. While I’m not and will never be known as a clothes horse, I do from time to time, have to find something to wear that isn’t a polo/khaki combination. Let’s just say finding a collar that fits around my pillar of a neck with sleeves that don’t stop halfway up my forearms is something just shy of seeking the holy grail. Of course when you do find one of these mythical shirts, they’re never on the $19.99 sale rack, they’re always way in the back on the $75-full-price-thank-you-very-much section of the store… and that’s a real pisser for something I’m going to wear once and then relegate to the back of the closet because I hate wearing a tie.
Just once I’d like to walk away from the vet with them telling me that everything is great and it’s $128.00 for the exam and yearly battery of shots. Such an idea is silly, though, as pet care is big business… an environment not aided by the fact that any perceived threat to one of my pups will be met with massive and overwhelming force and a willingness to bring every modern veterinary miracle to bear on even the smallest issue. Even so, I guess I got away easy this morning. Maggie got a relatively clean bill of health, but I still ended up walking away with a bag full of flea, tick, and heart worm preventative for the kids as well as a refill of Winston’s regular joint supplements and “special” food. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being surprised (horrified?) at the expense we’ll got to to keep animals more or less healthy.
Dogs have been part of the human story since the first caveman tossed a scrap of meat to the great furry beast sitting at the edge of the village. It seems they’ve gotten along pretty well. Man’s life and dog’s have been infinitely improved by our happy coexistence. I can’t imagine a time when my home won’t include at least one of the little fuzzballs. Still, part of me wonders if we all weren’t better off when dogs were just dogs and not fur covered adopted children. Now that they are, I don’t think there’s any going back… but sweet baby Jesus, it would be nice to spend less on their healthcare than I spend on my own.
The sawbones seems to be pleased with my continued lack of being deceased. I’m a fan as well, of course. My BP is in striking distance of normal, blood glucose levels are ranging well into normal territory, and I’ve dropped somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 pounds since October. The meds probably have more to do with those first two things than I do, but I’m taking credit for the weight loss. Me and that cursed exercise bike.
Next scheduled follow-up is in April. I’m glad to dispense with our monthly meetings, though I’ll miss the excuse for taking an extra Friday off every month. Maybe by April, I’ll be looking for a doctor somewhere a little closer to the Mason-Dixon Line. That would do wonders for my health and wellbeing. A boy can dream, right?
1) The price of gas. Yes, it’s $3.20 a gallon. It is what it is. Instead of bitching about it when someone shoves a camera in your face, maybe you should consider trading in the armored personnel carrier you use to take Bobby and Katie to soccer practice and get something more efficient. Otherwise, suck it up and pay the bill, sweetheart.
2) The “outrageous” cost of healthcare. You’re paying for a service. If you don’t like the going price, find a cheaper service or try just going without and see how that works out for you. Some things are worth a premium. Living is one of them.
3) The stock market “collapse.” I don’t know what economics or finance classes you took in college, but I distinctly remember learning that the price of stocks moves in both directions. If you were so heavily invested in one thing (i.e. stocks versus bonds versus gold), you need to learn about diversifying your portfolio. The market is doing what it does. I didn’t hear anyone bitching when it was soaring past all reasonable expectation.