The other big health problem I have is my teeth. They have betrayed me so many times and in so many ways, even though I have never treated them with anything less than reverence. Even when I was in grad school and had no dental insurance (of course I had health insurance. Of course! I was a responsible adult responsible for my own expenses), I still paid for a cleaning and exam once a year.
I took this photo in Peru, but you get the idea.
When I was riding the overnight bus across Bolivia and we stopped at the Bolivian equivalent of a truck stop in the middle of the high plains where there was no water to flush the toilets which was fine I suppose because they were just holes in the ground but then there was no water to wash one's hands, which does not matter as long as one does not pee on one's hands, I used my precious bottle of water to brush my teeth. I flossed, too, despite the stares of the Quechua women (in their full skirts with many petticoats and their bowler hats and a place behind the apron for tucking money, potatoes, or babies).
When I was in college, my back right penultimate molar cracked and broke. Apparently, dreaming that one's teeth are falling out of one's mouth has some Jungian meaning, but to me, it's just a nightmare that I have lived. That tooth eventually needed to be pulled, after causing me years of trouble. But guess what? After a tooth has caused you as much pain as that one did, pulling it was a relief.
My dentist* recommended pulling it two days before I was going to France with the Belgian boyfriend (and then moving from Miami to Cedar Rapids). He wouldn't do it - said I couldn't get on a plane right after an extraction - so he gave me painkillers to last me through the trip. Only I used them up early so Belgian guy and I spent a morning wandering Vaison-la-Romaine looking for a dentist, any dentist, to pull the darn tooth and I didn't even care if he used Novocaine because anything had to be better than the red hot poker that was throbbing in my mouth.
I had it pulled when I got home. Then I had to have the implant installed. I had just moved to Memphis. The dentist would not let me drive home after the implant stuff because I would be sedated for the procedure. I had been in town a month. I knew nobody except work people and how do you ask someone at work to take off a morning to drive you home? The only people I really knew (to the extent you can know anyone after a month) were my boss, the VP, and I saw him about once a week, and. Hmm. Nobody.
They wouldn't let me take a taxi. It had to be someone I knew who would take me home, walk me up the stairs to my apartment, and put me in bed.
My landlady, who was a very nice woman, pitched in. She picked me up, got my prescription for vicodin, which makes me throw up, especially if I take it on an empty stomach,** filled at Walgreen's, took me home, and gave me a package of frozen peas to put on my jaw.
By the time I had the follow-up implant work done six months later, I had other friends to transport me. Another six months later, I had a new tooth so I no longer looked like a poor Eastern European woman every time I smiled.
Now the ultimate back molar. It, too, has gone bad. I need a root canal.
More about that later.
PS SH had not had his teeth checked in 20 years when I met him. He has one cavity, I think? No crowns. No teeth breaking out of his head. And he DOES NOT FLOSS. Unfair.
* Who also waited until that moment, after I had been his patient for two years, to tell me that he and his mother, who ran his office (this was Miami - he was Cuban), thought I might like his brother. Yes. Two days before I was moving out of Miami. A little late for a blind date.
** My doctor says that's good - means I won't become an addict. I am disappointed because I wanted to try getting high.