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Dear God. This was almost what I went through last summer until yesterday. Lucky for me, one of my dearest friends works at the oral surgeons, and was able to calm me. My dentist is an idiot, whom I sadly couldn't drop mid-procedure (two molar implants), but I can now (as of yesterday).

Still ticked off.


Good for you, Kathy! I hate that double talk you get in doctors' offices and even tho I am not a lawyer, I do all the same things you tried to do the first time around. Keep the faith!

Baltimore Jack

This is "Classic Kack" and why I love you! I'm sure you don't think this is funny but you have to understand that I have seen this person you described (you) and imagined the faces and reactions of all invlolved when I read this. Part of me laughed at the image of this 5 foot terror in action and part of me was just glad I wasn't around to witness personally. Hope you feel better.


This deserves an OMG.

Good for you for standing up for your mouth. Or is that your mouth (attached to your brain) standing up for you.

My dentist now knows I don't freeze well, screaming during a procedure and telling him to fucking hurry up, got that message through. Now when I need any 'big' dental work done, it is a dose of Ativan pre-procedure at a specialists office.

Things I hate to hear at the dentist "this won't take long" (HA) and this will only be a "pinch" (=PAIN)

I have my fingers crossed that this is the last dental work you need done for awhile.

Pam aka SisterZip

Don't ever, EVER, feel bad about being mean. The professionals were not listening to you. You have to get your point across somehow. It is the one big thing I hate about the medical (all avenues) profession. They think they know more than the patient. I know my body; you are not doing something I don't understand until you can explain it in a fashion that I understand. I'm reasonably intelligent, just break down the big words. I have changed doctors a couple of times because they couldn't grasp that concept.

I, too, am a child of the 60s where the dentists did not believe in Novacaine. Just writing this is making my saliva glands go into hyperdrive. I also cannot have epinephren in my Novacaine shots, as my heart races, I break out in a sweat, and get the shakes. So I get twice as many Novacaine shots as the normal person would because they don't last as long or work as well. My dentist has come to the realization that if it is something big or will take a long time, he sends me to a specialist to let them knock my ass out.

Gone are the days that you could rely on the doctor to make decisions that are to your benefit alone. If they don't take the insurance companies into account (whether mine or their malpractice insurance), they will royaly get screwed over...and you suffer for it.


"We will discuss it later" plus The Look . . . we wouldn't need to have armed conflict in any foreign country if we could just harness this power for good.

Diane Russom Harrison

I too am a child of the sixties and the victim of a dentist who didn't believe in Novacain. Said dentist would also viciously pinch me on the thigh if I expressed any sounds of pain. Today that would be considered assault AND child abuse. I remember walking up that long stairway to the second floor to his office and starting to break out in a cole sweat. I even ran away one day to avoid a dental appointment!
In my early thirties I began seeing a dentist after my husband persuaded me that his dentist was a good guy. OMG, total difference in experience. This dentist explained to me that the reason I experienced so much pain was that the roots of my teeth were unusually long and thus I required more numbing agent than most patients. He used Nitrous and since I could walk to his office would have me take 20mg of Valium before a visit.
Four years ago a back tooth split in half so I needed to see an Oral Surgeon for removal. I was given the option of Nitrous Oxide for $100 payable up front. I paid the $100. He numbed me up, put the nitrous mask on me, said open up and BINGO within 30 seconds (no lie) was holding the tooth. So, I paid $100 for 30 seconds of nitro! The peace of mind....priceless!


I'm not a fan of UPMC either. Took my daughter to a GI doc at Presby and paid the co-pay. The doctor was fine, but a month later I got a second "co-pay" bill, so I called and explained that I'd paid this already. "Nope. This is a bill from the hospital." I had to pay Presby $40 for the office space, lights, water, etc.! As nice as the doctor was, I'd never go back! Who's ever heard of an office building sending you a bill because the doctor has her office there?


I would never had had the nerve or fortitude to stand my ground like you did with your x-rays. I would have folded. Good for you.

lil Gluckstern

I think you did great. I wish I was strong enough to argue with the dentists I've had. The office regulations are enough to drive me nuts. One thing-you're still post surgical so you'll be more vulnerable, so don't be upset with yourself at all.

Pam aka SisterZip

Diane, where did you grow up? My dentists office was on Main Street over a jewelry store and that walk up those stairs was the longest. It was made worse by the paneling being installed weird. Instead of installing it with the grain going up and down, they saved money by installing it 'with' the stairs. It was like a crazy tunnel that didn't end. Made me dizzy every time.

Pam aka SisterZip

Peg, that charge is getting more & more common. Instead of just charging rent to the doctor, mostly because they are now employees of the hospital, you get to pay for it. And a lot of insurance companies are not paying it either. None of my doctors are affiliated with, say, SSM. They have privilagews at SSM hospital in my area, but they don't work directly for them.

Storyteller Mary

Proud of you -- and I would want you by my side in a crunch! Especially proud of "I did make my displeasure evident. Without swearing." and THE LOOK-- yes!

My sympathies on your having to endure this treatment, and my congratulations on standing your ground.

I have been lucky enough to have mostly good, kind, competent dentists, but I have had a couple of experiences to educate me on the difference . . . and I think there is a separate level of hell for those . . .

Maryann Mercer

Wow. I thought I was the only one with a childhood dentist out of Hitchcock. But the whole medical monopoly, whether it's health insurance or the CLINIC/HOSPITAL that has replaced most of the private practices in my town, is criminal. I lost my doctor of 22 plus years last summer. He left because they wanted him to spend 5 of his 15 minute 'time frame' with the patient and 10 on the PC updating the file...evidently dictation for later transcription and coding went out the window due to "costs". Hah. My rheumatologist moved to Texas. This year my 'new' doctor told me PAPS are no longer suggested for women over 65. Evidently our lady parts (them again) don't need to be checked because 'nothing really changes after menopause'. I told him to think again. Now looking for a lady doc. Oh...and he told me he never prescribes for sinus infections unless they're around for more than a week. "They usually clear up on their own". Next time I'm going to give him a kick in his own sinuses. I yelled at my new rheumatologist on Monday...and we may have reached an understanding. "Ever had a flare-up?" I asked. "I don't have RA," he replied. "Then you can't possibly understand how frickin' painful it is," I said. "And I didn't appreciate the lack of concern you showed by not returning my call for 24 hours." Next time I'm going to tell him I know a really kick-ass lawyer in Pittsburgh!
PS. I'm thinking of changing dentists too...but your story trumps any I would have. Good for you for sticking to your guns, Kathy!

mary lynn

Oh, Kathy, I'm so sorry it was awful. I know just where you are. I grew up when dentists not only didn't use Novocaine, but had jackhammers for drills. By the time I was 14 they had to drug me with Demerol just to get me in the chair.

I often considered reaching out and cupping the dentist's testicles in my hand and saying, "You hurt me, I hurt you."

Deb Romano

Kathy, I want you to come to the dentist with me!

At least the one I go to now doesn't call me a liar if I say that I'm not yet numb from the novocain. (HE lies when he says "this is a little pinch." NO, it feels like someone jammed a serrated knife into my gum and twisted it around. And I have a reputation with my doctors for having an unusually high tolerance for pain, something I had to tell the dentist when he accused me of not knowing what REAL pain is. When I told that to my physical therapist, he said that I should have kicked the dentist!)

In 1967 I was having a tooth pulled, and for some reason the novocain did not take effect. Finally, the dentist,who was clearly annoyed with me, said my mouth HAD to be numb and that I was lying because I didn't want him to pull the tooth, and that he was going to proceed. He did, and I felt EVERYTHING because I was not numb! I did not go back to a dentist again for many years. I have never been able to trust another one. (That same dentist told me that I had such an ugly mouth that it was a wonder I had any friends, such a hurtful thing to say to a shy teenager.)

What really bothers me most about your experience is that they had no respect for the fact that your cancer history means that you must avoid xrays. This seems like a simple medical fact to me.


In retrospect, I'm surprised my childhood dentist didn't lean down and whisper "Is it safe?" in my ear before beginning. Just sayin'.

Skip forward to 2009, when scans reveal a massive bone loss in upper and lower jaw thanks to genetics. I was fortunate to find an oral surgeon who understood my feelings toward his profession, and who went out of his way to manage both myself and the procedure. I ended up with bone transplants, gum grafts, and a whole new mouth. In one of the pre-surgery consults, I clearly remember saying, "If I'm going through all this, I better have a Movie Star Smile when we're done." He laughed and promised me I would.

So, we did it. He was extremely blunt about managing the pain; "You're going to hurt for a couple of days, don't think otherwise. Take the pain meds, that kind of hurt only messes up your healing." I toughed it out for about three hours, then took one of the scrips he'd given me. Ten minutes later, it was all gone, like magic!

I learned a lot from that experience; 1) I've got the best dentist on the planet now, and 2) being tough and not taking your pain meds only gets you more pain.

But I know there's more to this story coming. The Look, "we'll discuss this later", and confirming you're an attorney.... oh, yeah, there's LOTS more to this one coming down the road....:)


So glad you brought out The Look and stood your ground, Kathy. When healthcare folk of any stripe are lazy or tired or careless and not doing their proper job, it is absolutely essential that a) they 'fess up and shape up, and b) patients hold up a big STOP UNTIL YOU'RE THINKING CLEARLY ABOUT THIS sign. It may be briefly uncomfortable for the practitioner, but they'll be glad later.

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