Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I just got home from a 3 hour dental appointment....my 12th in 5 months. It's been hard to bear. I hadn't seen a dentist for at least a decade and I avoided them because I'm on a fixed income and I have no health insurance.

But a friend told me about a local dental school that I could go to that had a sliding scale and student doctors with professional supervision. It took a lot of phone calls to actually set up an appointment but I got evaluated and was pleased and surprised to find I had no problems at all (lucky I have good genes), but there was such this minor, optional, elective procedure I could undergo that might prevent a tooth from cracking in the future. But it was up to me. I went for it, mainly because I could actually afford their rates and because it was a teaching hospital and there were dozens of professional dentists around to advise in case my student doctor ran into complications.

Well, here I am, 5 months later and what was supposed to take 3 visits has taken 12 and they told me to plan on at least 2 more...and the visits last between 3 and 3 1/2 hours. It hasn't been torture (they have great painkillers now) but it has been tedious, tiresome and frustrating. And there is no one I can even get mad at about it all!

My student doctor is a sweetheart, young, eager, well-intentioned, and a bit of a perfectionist. But "things", I've continually been told, didn't go as planned. Unforeseen consequences. What they thought would work, didn't work, so they had to start from scratch with another procedure, then ran into problems with that one, etc. etc. It's been an exercise in patience and it makes me wonder how people cope with dialysis or chemotherapy, those uncomfortable and timeconsuming procedures people undergo which can actually save your life. What a trial that must be...I think it would either build my character or leave me a bitter woman!

I guess what I'm left with from this experience is that being well-intentioned might make you a nice person but isn't an integral ingredient to success. They are not opposed to each other (you can be both well-intentioned and successful), but being well-intentioned just isn't enough when you are trying to accomplish something (do a medical procedure, right a wrong, build a career, write a frickin' dissertation, etc.). It's best to try to mesh your good intentions with knowledge, experience, and the drive to reach your goal in a timely fashion, whatever that may be (get this damn tooth crowned) or however long you consider to be timely (last November).