More Doctors, Less Money

Thanks to all of my grandmother’s medical woes as of late, I recently fell under great conviction that I needed to get our family back to regular medical and dental appointments.  Prevention is key, right?  We’ve been in Pasadena for over a year now, so my excuse of “we just moved” is pretty much null and void.  It was time to get back to doing what we should have been doing all along.

The girls, thanks to Texas public schools and their immunization requirements (and thanks to the Faulk Flu Epidemic of 2013), were up to date on their doctor visits…. but not so much on the dental visits.  But they were more up to date than Wes and I were, since we can’t even remember the last time we saw a dentist, frankly.

I’ve already mentioned that first fateful visit to the “Texas dentist.”  Yes, I said FIRST.  Because at the first, we were told that there would be more.  Many, many more.  Not for the girls, whose teeth I keep immaculate, but for Wes and for me, who have old teeth and who (it must be said) drink Diet Dr. Pepper and Coke Zero like it’s water.  (Don’t hate, y’all.  Don’t hate.)  The dentist congratulated me on having only two cavities then offered her apologies when I told her I was married to the bearded guy she’d just examined.  “Bless his heart,” she said.  “It’s going to be a long process for him.”

And how.

Before we could start that process, I had another appointment.  I won’t give you the details of this visit, other than to say that when the doctor walks in and says in a cheerleader voice, “Hooray!  Your yearly exam!,” you have to remember that she chose women’s reproductive health as a career and it’s a GOOD thing that she’s enthusiastic about her work.  (Or you can just assume that she’s being sarcastic.  Which I did.)  I’m glad someone was excited about it, because my enthusiasm began to seriously wane when she calculated my age and informed me, in her perky way, that my fertility is on a freight train heading out of town.  And if I want that train to make any more stops at Baby Village, I better get to it before the train gets going so fast that it derails itself.

Awesome.

While the scenery in Baby Village is precious and adorable, the residents are too fussy and demanding for me at this point in my life, so no biggie.  However, being told that my passport does indeed have an expiration date (and that it’s not so far off) was an unpleasant reminder that I’m older than I feel.  Oh, well.  I’m going to embrace middle age… because there’s really no other alternative, is there? 

Sigh. 

(And it only got more awesome when our insurance billed us an insane amount of money for what should have been a normal, standard appointment.  After a number of enigmatic, frustrating calls to the doctor’s office, the lab, and the insurance company, I was told that I had been tested for a large number of STDs.  Oh, mercy.  I told the insurance lady that I didn’t have chlamydia, and though she said she believed me, I know she was clearly thinking whatever, you skank.  And because our insurance is grouped together with all Southern Baptist clergy — oh, mercy! — my insurance now has me flagged as a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife who engages in high risk behavior.  Sigh.  The doctor’s office says those tests are standard, and despite the fact that I told anyone who would listen that Wes and I were virgins going into marriage and that I would kill him myself if he ever messed around on me, making it IMPOSSIBLE for me to have any of the STDs I was tested for, AND despite the fact that I ranted and raved about how this is going to affect my insurance in the long run, they kept saying, “It’s standard, Mrs. Faulk.  We test everyone.”  All that said, they’re trying to work it out amongst themselves.  I’m keeping the faith and hoping that I won’t end up paying for the whole round of STD testing that I didn’t need or consent to in the first place.  THIS is what I get for going to the doctor!)

Anyway.

As fun as that enlightening appointment was, it didn’t begin to compare with the next round of dental work.  How could it get worse or more expensive, you ask?  Oh, just wait.

We went with staggered visits so that Wes would be able to watch the girls while I got tortured and vice versa.  Lucky me, I showed up just in time for a teaching session with a dental student.  I’m all for helping the next generation of dentists and all, but I felt a little like an animal at the zoo, especially when the guy pulled out his iPhone and took before and after pictures of my teeth.  (Says the woman who gave birth in front of an entire classroom of nursing students.  You know, back when my fertility was on the upswing.)  The dentist had planned on filling two cavities, but as they discussed the condition of my teeth and the teeth she had determined to just “watch,” the dental student agreed with her assessment that they could save me the drama six months from now and fill FIVE cavities.  Oh, and that he could assist and get some practice.  Fan-freakin’-tastic, y’all.  They asked me what I thought, adding that “you’re already all numbed up,” so I told them, “by all means, be my guest.”  They started drilling and filling, as I noted that I wasn’t totally “all numbed up.”  But after years of orthodontic work, it would take a sledgehammer to the face to really upset me, so I just sat there with their hands in my mouth as they went on their merry way. 

This took forever.  So long, in fact, that poor Wes arrived for his root canal and had to wait because who would sit with the girls?  As soon as that last cavity was filled, I told the dentist, “My husband has our children.  Can they come and sit back here while I get my teeth cleaned so that he can go on and get prepped for his root canal?”  Except it came out like, “Maa ma ma maaaaa…”  All numbed up indeed.  Too late for the drilling process but right on time for the drive home.

She got my point, brought the girls back, and handed the reins over to the dental student, who was happy as a lark to begin scraping each and every one of my teeth while Ana and Emma studied the process with great interest, silent and spellbound.  “Your kids are really well behaved, ma’am!,” he said, over and over again.  Ma’am.  Ma’am, y’all.  I half expected him to mention my decreasing fertility (can you tell I’m having a hard time with this?) while he was at it.  “Hey, ma’am, you know your body’s falling apart, right?”  Kick me while I’m down, young dental student.  I won’t feel it because — hey, hey! — I’m finally all numbed up.

I was blissfully done a few minutes later… and then I got to pay our bills.  Ugh.  Who do these dentists and doctors think they are — RunDisney?  Offering up painful opportunities and expecting me to PAY for the privilege of enduring them?  Unbelievable.  

The girls and I drove back to Pasadena, where I failed at every attempt to communicate lucidly with them.  “Ma ma maaaa maaa!”  Again and again.  Until we got a few miles from home where we got a call from Wes. 

“I need to fill a prescription,” he said, very simply. 

“Whaaa fooooh?”

“Pain medication.”

Numbness or lack of numbness aside, Wes was in much worse shape than I was, clearly.  Poor guy!  (But, hey, his fertility is, as of right now, blissfully unaffected.  And no one’s testing him for STDs.  One up on the “old” wife, he is.)

He was certain that it couldn’t get worse than that appointment.  Then, he went for the second one.  He managed to text me two hours into the procedure and had only this to say.  “This is MUCH worse than last time!”  And he still has another appointment left! 

Because all Faulks must partake of the medical/dental torture, we scheduled Charlie for a vet appointment as well.  Hey, even dogs have to endure these things.  Last year at this time, our boy weighed in at 94 pounds.  Breed standard for a male German Shepherd Dog is between 60-90 pounds, but since Charlie is a little taller than breed standard in height, those few extra pounds are easily accounted for.  What wasn’t easily accounted for this year were the TWENTY additional pounds he had put on!  115 pounds!  As I told Charlie, “You’re going to outweigh ME before too long!”

The vet suggested that we begin feeding him four cups of food a day to manage his weight.  When we measured this out and compared it to what he usually gets… well, we were appalled to find that we’ve been feeding him close to ten (!!!) cups a day.  Holy, huge GSD, y’all.  Not entirely our fault, since Charlie walks around whining like he’s starving with anything less, but….  wow.  We’re so sorry, Charlie!

Until his weight comes back down, he gets to partake of two, yes, TWO heartworm pills every month. As Wes said, looking at the boxes, “Our dog is the equivalent of a Lab and a Yorkie combined.”

Sigh.

Oh, well.  Here’s hoping these appointments last us a while…

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