Distracted from Halloween as the pricey dental situation hots up

I think I should start with Happy Halloween! I personally still find it hard to get excited about it, particularly as I have always viewed it as the poor relation to Fireworks night. No one has even heard of Fireworks night here though, so perhaps I should be making more of an attempt to adopt the rituals of my new home, and put my old fashioned views on Halloween to bed? A bit late now…

In my defence, a lot has been happening that has meant Halloween has been the last thing on my mind. I am relieved to be recovering from a silly cold that I think I caught from an over-zealous air-conditioning unit in one of my classes on Wednesday. I made the mistake of going out without a jumper, as it was boiling in the sun. It was only when I went back outside after 80 minutes of class that I realised just how freezing the lecture hall was, and I did not feel too hot (literally) for the rest of the week. My body’s defences were also probably still low from the root canal I had on Tuesday.

Yes, that’s right. On my trip to the Endodontist in Solana Beach on Tuesday afternoon I had a root canal on the, apparently, terrible molar at the bottom right of my jaw. The dentist seemed very good, and all the staff members at the small practice were very friendly towards me. They asked many questions about England and Scotland, and gave me many recommendations of places to go in San Diego County. It was said many times that California was at the forefront of the worlds dental research, and that this was a much better treatment than I’d be able to receive in England. Perhaps if you say it often enough you begin to believe it? After an hour of drilling, cleaning out the canals, filling the canals with a rubber putty, and finally something that appeared to be like (very) hot-glue, he was finished. To his credit, the tooth it didn’t hurt. Bizarrely, it actually didn’t hurt when it broke, it didn’t hurt when it was exposed for 10 days, the root canal didn’t hurt, and it hasn’t hurt once in the 5 days since. From the looks of the people in the know when I tell them the problem, either I have a high pain threshold, or the nerves in that area don’t work particularly well! The tooth may not have hurt, but my wallet sure did. The root canal cost $1125, and I got a 10% for being a student (and also I think because the receptionist felt sorry for me). Now, this was not covered in the health insurance plan at the university until after March (i.e., you’ve had the plan for over 6 months), and even you would still have to pay 50% of the fee yourself. The next part of the saga, getting a crown fitted, will begin in just over a week.

I had wanted to put off getting a crown until I returned to the UK in July, but this seemed out of the question. The dentist said the temporary dressing would last two weeks if I was lucky and only ate soft foods, even though my mother’s has lasted over a year, and the dentist who will do the crown has kept phoning to ask when I’d like to make an appointment. To their credit, they are persistent! I still need to go down to check the price, and see if there is any way I can bring them down a bit on it, as I think it is going to be a little over $1500. It’s slightly depressing really, all this money just to fix this trifling little problem with one tooth. Better yet, one tooth that doesn’t hurt.

My advice to anyone coming to America is to not just have a check up with your dentist before you leave the UK, as I have had 3 of those since April to make sure my teeth would be fine out here, but have a full blown x-ray so they can be sure if anything is wrong. Also, get a separate dental plan, which is about $80-a year. I left it too late to join one as I already knew something was wrong, but they will pay for a lot of any treatment you may need. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to be able to do all this myself, but others might not be so lucky. Once again, the importance of the NHS in Great Britain is evident. Many people here have bumper stickers saying “Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege” and I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t have money, then you are screwed basically. My cousin in Oregon will be having her 4th baby around May, and just for hospital fees alone, each baby costs over $4000 to have. Suddenly it becomes clear why America has a higher child mortality rate than countries like Malaysia. The poorer classes simply can’t afford it.

Getting back to the reasons that Halloween has been at the back of my mind, another major reason has been that the midterm season is upon us. Yes, Sarah Palin is being unexplainably paraded 24/7 on Fox News, angry adverts bad mouthing fellow state governor candidates are floating around every television channel, and there are a few exams here at college. The Aerodynamics exam last week went well, and I got 100%, which made me very happy. The Linear Circuits exam on Thursday didn’t go quite as well, as there was a bit of an oddball question, and I was put off by the fact it was far too cramped in the lecture theatre for a left-handed person to write on a right-handed desk. It was also open book, something I still haven’t been able to get my head around yet. To me, it seems like nothing but cheating! My final midterm, for Heat Transfer, is tomorrow morning, and I’m hoping that will go ok. The practice problems have gone fine, and it is another open book effort, so it isn’t imperative to learn every equation off by heart. I’m feeling good. After that, we can get back to normal for another 5 weeks before its time for finals. They are not too far away now! Time really flies!

Finally, the San Diego Chargers snapped their 3-game losing streak today against Tennessee, by actually playing properly for nearly 4 whole quarters for a change. Shame they couldn’t have done that last week, when I was there watching them with my head buried in my hands in despair for the first three quarters!

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