The Time I Went To A No-Insurance Dentist
Fresh outta high school, I moved out of my parents house and in with my first super serious girlfriend. In hindsight, this was a mistake. But at the time, I didn’t see the signs. She was a soul sucking nightmare of a woman…but god, she was sexy and great in bed. That said, most of my friends and family were not fans of her. I didn’t listen because I liked pussy (apparently, as much as all the other guys who, unbeknownst to me, were banging her at the same time I was). You live & you learn, I guess. We lived in Yakima, WA before moving to Kennewick, WA. For the unaware, Kennewick was a bigger version of Yakima with just as much meth & gang violence, but it had better job opportunities and a Chuck E Cheese, where it was great to get drunk and barf in the ball pit. So it was obviously a better place.
Not long after the move, we decided to break up. It was an amicable breakup where we mutually decided we shouldn’t see each other anymore, by way of her blowing my best friend while I was at work and me setting her stuff on fire after walking in on her gargling his dongle in my living room. After the breakup, I decided to smoke copious amounts of marijuana and quit my job as a pizza cook so I could accept a full time position managing crippling depression. Yet again, in hindsight, this was a mistake. A job as a pizza cook paid money and had health benefits. Depression paid in crying and masturbating to basic cable shows. These missing health benefits would soon become very important.
One night, after a depression double shift ended with a dinner of Mountain Dew and Hot Pockets, my tooth started to hurt worse than I’d ever experienced in my life. I could hear & feel my heartbeat in my tooth and every throb was filled with a piercing, deafening pain. It was the stuff of nightmares. I was drooling and every breath I sucked in made the tooth throb. I called my mom and it was decided that I needed to go to the doctor immediately. It turned out that this was an impacted, infected wisdom tooth and this motherfucker was gonna have to come out or I’d die. This is the point in the story where I desperately wished I’d have kept that job as a pizza cook.
I drove to the no insurance clinic, crying and trying not to drive off the road as I screamed in pain. I finally arrived and walked through the electronic sliding doors into a scene that could only be described as tragic. People littered the waiting room, clearly uninsured and unemployed, with defeat in their faces and various caverns of trauma in their bodies. The smell was abhorrent. It smelled like old, musty decay and cheap dollar store brand knock off Febreeze. I went up to the counter and told them what was going on. Half my face was swollen from the tooth and I had tear stains down my cheeks. It was bad. I filled out the paperwork and was advised the wait was about 4 1/2 hours. I’ll repeat that: The wait was 4 1/2 hours in the Triage Thunderdome of a waiting room. But I had no choice, I had to wait.
After about 6 hours of waiting, I was taken back to the dentist’s room. This place was cold with pale yellow walls that looked they were once white but now had jaundiced. This was not an inviting room. After another 30 minutes, a dentist walks in that looks like he’s freshly hungover, early 50’s with disheveled as fuck hair and rickety framed glasses. This was going to be my final resting place, I’d told myself. There was no way I was surviving this. He opened my mouth, saw the swelling and smelled the infection and not even 30 seconds later, said “Goddamn my man, that fuckers infected. We gotta get it out!”…but he yelled it, like he was hopped up on coke and way too excited about unpleasant things.
He pulled out a giant needle and shot my whole face up with Novocaine. I looked like I was having a full blown stroke and it felt like my face was melting off. He slapped on some rubber gloves (which I told him I was allergic to) and then mounted my lap like we were fucking in the front seat of a Camaro in a “Fast & The Furious” movie. He opened my face with his allergy mittens and started going to town on my wisdom tooth.
The issue was now that my face was swelling from the allergic reaction and my jaw was already tight, so he was struggling real hard. He was rocking back & forth, grunting and sweating INTO my mouth. He smelled like old man cologne and bad dietary decisions. He was working my face so violently that it was as if my wisdom tooth personally insulted his family and spit in the face of his dentistry degree.
Finally, he grunts out “Goddamn it…fuckers in there good! We aren’t giving up! You hear me!? We’re getting this out!” He was clearly talking to himself and not me. I was terrified and pinned underneath an overenthusiastic, failing dentist and I truly thought I’d be dying by nights end. Finally, he vice grips the tooth so hard that it shatters inside my mouth. It exploded into my throat as he dismounted my lap and said “Well, we got good news and bad news. Good news is that we’re gonna get that tooth out. Bad news is that we gotta do surgery now. My bad, man. You like mouth surgery? I’m kidding! Nobody fuckin’ likes mouth surgery! Anyway, time for the gas.”
He gassed me. I passed out. I woke up in a recovery room with one less wisdom tooth, a face like Mike Tyson had beat me half to death and the above story. The moral of this story: Get insurance.