Monday was supposed to start with catching up on work from the weekend. Listening to some new albums that were recently released, finishing off some websites for clients, maybe doing some laundry. Filling out my planner with all the stuff I had to do this week (finally getting my hair cut on Friday, yes!!!) and feeding someone’s cats while they were out of town.
Instead it started with the longest dentist visit I’ve had in a long time, a surprise tooth extraction, a hell of a runaround trying to get pain medication, and plans made to get eight more teeth taken out in a few weeks. Yesterday the hell continued with the worst migraine I have ever had in my life, thanks to not eating for a few days.
I should probably start from the beginning.
I’ve had dental issues for a long time but was never quite able to pinpoint exactly what it was, at least not while I was younger and a teenager. I would brush my teeth frequently, go through long stretches of time without soda or candy, and nothing seemed to help. Eventually little pieces started falling into place, like getting diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder earlier this year and realizing that all of the extra gas and acid bubbling up into my esophagus could be what was basically killing my teeth… except knowing that didn’t make it any better, and I was already on the path to discussing my options. Options like, you know, getting all your teeth pulled out at the age of 28. Sounds appealing, right?
The fact is, the health of your teeth is tied super close to the health of… well, you. People die all the time from things that start out as infected teeth, and it isn’t always because they didn’t brush or floss or drank two cans of soda a week or whatever horror story we were told as kids. Sometimes teeth just go bad, and when they do they can take your entire body down with them. Which is why I need to take mine out within the next few weeks… or at least start the process. My top teeth will go first and I’ll get some shiny new ones to adjust to. The bottom… whenever I can afford it, I guess. If we’re being honest.
Dental insurance is stupid. Health insurance in the United States is already a joke, but dental insurance barely covers anything and many plans require you to pay for things up front and get refunded later. In my case, something like $1000 of my procedure is going to be covered by insurance.
$1000. The grand total estimate for just my top row of teeth is sitting at just over $5000.
Dental insurance also doesn’t cover prescriptions, like the $50 antibiotics I needed to keep this infection from killing me, or the $20 painkillers I picked up after the extraction that I’ll probably want more of after I get eight more teeth taken out.
It’s expensive, and it’s frustrating. A big part of why I hadn’t started working towards getting new teeth was the fact that I was scared (seriously, let’s be honest: getting all your teeth taken out sounds horrifying)… but the biggest part of all was the fact that I was staring down the face of a $15000 procedure without being able to figure out where the hell I was supposed to get that much money. I’m a freelancer, my partner works retail, my family is far from well off. I can’t even imagine having $15000 to spare, let alone to throw at something that it seems like your insurance should be able to cover. Because it’s killing me, right? My dental situation is making me sick, it’s not like I want to go through all the pain of yanking all those teeth out just so I can look prettier on Instagram (even if that will be a nice perk, who am I kidding.)
I got lucky. We’ve managed to work out something with the dentist office and I’m going to be probably paying off my teeth for about as long as some people pay off new cars or student loans, but so many people aren’t that lucky. And the worst part for me is that this is an expense that I really don’t need, taking time off work to recover is something I don’t need, stocking up on soft foods and smoothie materials is something that… well, okay, I mean I kind of could use that, but still. It’s going to be a huge hit and all because, basically, dental insurance is stupid, and even having it doesn’t help you out that much.
I don’t talk about my health issues very frequently on the internet because frankly it’s no one’s business but my own, but this entire thing has been so frustrating and it has been so frustrating dealing with it in a vacuum. I have been to the ER/Urgent Care countless times for dental issues and have been told “we don’t deal with this, go to a dentist.” I have been to the dentist and have been told certain things need to be addressed by a doctor, and when the dentist wasn’t available on Sunday they told me to go to the ER if the situation got worse. To what? Be turned around again because it’s “not a medical issue?”
Dental issues are medical issues. I don’t understand why this fact is not more commonly accepted.
Anyway, it looks like thanks to all of this my life is about to be seriously thrown off balance for the next… honestly, I’m not sure how long. In a few weeks I’ll have my first big surgery to remove my top teeth, and after that it’s apparently going to be six months of healing time, which honestly sounds impossibly long from where I’m sitting. There’s a solid chance I will be missing my high school reunion, I know I’ll be missing at least a few fencing lessons, and there is no way I’ll be able to even try to travel abroad until probably… spring? Not nearly as soon as I’d hope, at least, since the cost of the surgery cancels out buying any tickets and I have such a long recovery time. I’ll probably have a few days of being unable to work immediately after, and even right now I’m still sore and exhausted three days after having one tooth taken out. I imagine it could be a couple of weeks if I’m getting eight removed, especially if I can’t eat, since that can trigger my migraines again.
I don’t really know what to expect from here. Except, you know, I can expect the insurance situation to continue to suck.
As far as how I’m doing, I’m not going to start a GoFundMe thing, though I considered it, but what I think I need most right now isn’t necessarily financial support so much as creative support. Don’t get me wrong, cost wise this is a huge blow for my family and I, but part of figuring that out is making sure I can continue to work and live my life.
If you want to help me in some way, I have some short stories I plan on putting online soon, and I would love it if you kept an eye out for them to read them. I have a Patreon page where you can help support posts like these and all the others on my blog, and I am currently offering to write cover letters on a pay-what-you-want basis for anyone who might need one. I’ve also made an Amazon Wishlist specifically for some things that I know from experience will probably aid in my recovery. And if you’re the sort of person who just wants to throw something in my tip jar, I have a page for that too.
I’m going to get through this. I’m totally freaked out, exhausted, and sore, and already not looking forward to the pain of having such a major surgery or the frustration of missing fencing lessons or taking so long to get through my work queue. But… you know. It sucks, but I’ll get through it.