Friday, April 24, 2009

Bitch of the Day

That would be me. Something wasn't right today and I said something about it. It's been bothering me all day. This is something I would typically hash over with my significant other, who when he was well, before the brain problem and cancer, was a beacon of wisdom at times like this. But he died last year and there is no one who has taken his place as my best friend and confidant. There's been a void that way and today I really felt it. I guess that's why I'm here - now I have the entire world who lands on my blog to chime in about this.

So it goes...I should have guessed today would be challenging. It started off when I dropped a big Costco jar of Kalamata olives, juice and all on my purple carpet - yes, purple carpet in the kitchen. That's a lot of olives and juice for my carpet cleaner to suck up. The olive juice was eggplant color; I actually kind of liked the subtle color change from the purple, even to the point of considering splashing the entire floor with the eggplant olive juice to update the look - my Sag moon kicks in at times like this, forever and sometimes desperately looking for the bright side of crises, catastrophes, and my daily screw-ups. Dropping things from rushing about is my biggest test of patience with myself lately. Unfortunately, that patience didn't extend to the dentist's office today and maybe it was a good thing.

To preface a bit, I've had the same dentist for more than ten years. I know his staff and some of us email each other about mutual interests. I like them all, even the newbie who was on hand to intern on me today. I'm patient with others, more than I am with myself, but I have learned to be extra cautious about my medical care. I have been exposed to a great deal of radiation during my life, more than most, EMFs and double dose of radiation for cancer treatment, all factors contributing to my body creating tumors the way some teenagers have acne breakouts. My boyfriend once measured all my surgical scars and came up with exactly 2 feet of them.

The modern dentists' office now sports a digital PC capable of x-raying your teeth, gums, and other peridontal innards by immediately showing them on a computer monitor. The dental assistant told me that the new machine emits 90% less radiation than the "old way." Especially for me, needing to be cautious about yet another layer of radiation bombarding me, I was grateful to hear that 90% info. I hope it's true.

Back to the intern, a month out of graduation, who was trying to get decent-looking x-rays. She was taking forever, re-doing and re-clicking constantly to get a readable x-ray. Finally, I looked to the monitor and saw that out of about 40 clicks (x-rays), she had "saved" only four. And I could see that one of those was very blurry. So she could click away until she got one right. That bothered me.

This had nothing to do with personalities. She seemed pleasant enough, but already overloaded from years of radiation, I wasn't the right candidate to be her guinea pig. Even my dentist came by and asked if there was a problem. As she was assuring with, "No, not at all," I give him a look to say, "Yes, there is...and help!"

This continual clicking without success wasn't improving with the newbie's practice. I finally and politely told her that I was worried about the excessive radiation and would she please find someone else to do the x-rays on me. After a few murmurs on the other side of the wall, someone else came in to finish up on me without any extra radiation clicks. I have been saved from the newbie and God knows how much more radiation.

A few things about this event bother me:

1. I don't usually make waves but I felt protecting myself from more radiation was important. Simultaneously, I felt badly about the newbie feeling badly, but at the same time I felt empowered about my own health and relieved that I asked her to stop.

2. She was way too new and/or incompetent and shouldn't have been let loose on patients, at least not yet. The dentist or staff management should have tested her before they hired her.

3. One disadvantage of this digital x-ray machine is that it's too easy to keep clicking away until you get a perfect image. Each click is radiation exposure. It could lend itself to sloppy work by the staff. Remember when each x-ray had to be perfect and you'd wait for it to be developed? Far more care went into that process than with this new digital one.

I'm just glad I won't need full-mouth x-rays for a good long while. ~ Tara

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