The Tooth; and Nothing but the Tooth.

Dentists. No wonder they have the highest suicide ratings of any profession. Many people have legitimate fears of just the word. And I feel like they don’t do anything anymore. You are referred to a “specialist” for just about everything. Need a filling, here’s your referral. Crown? Here’s your referral. Let’s not get into insuring your chompers! Insurance covers pennies on the thousands of dollars you may owe for any type of a procedure just past a cleaning.

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When I was a Senior in college, I was struck by one of the worst pains in my life. Even to this day, after childbirth, emergency gall bladder surgery and other various painful procedures, I will still put tooth pain at the top of my list. It’s downright excruciating. And this is coming from a girl with a pretty high pain tolerance. I was an intern at a graphic design facility and popping Tylenol and Ibuprofen like candy. Nothing was working, so they finally told me to go home and get to the dentist immediately. This was probably best as I could have slapped anyone who dared me to answer any question that required more than a one-word answer. I seriously could have driven my car off a cliff if it would stop the intense throbbing in my mouth.

I was able to get an appointment and after answering about a million questions from the secretary about who I wanted to put as people they could talk to per “HIPAA” laws, I finally snapped on the lady through waves of lightning bolts through my tooth. I think my response was something like “Listen lady, I don’t care if you tell your dog about my tooth, I just want the pain to STOP.” I think she got the hint as her cheery disposition went downhill from there.

Fast forwarding through the boring parts of this story, I ended up needing a root canal on one of my molars. I had to see a specialist because apparently the holes in my teeth were too small for their tools. I was now sweating bullets because I did not want to do this. I was dreading the day and kept thinking of all the bad expressions people say about a root canal.

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The big day arrives, and I take my dad as moral support. In hind sight, he is not the person you want with you in a time of a traumatic experience. If you know my dad, he is a character. I love that man with all my heart and he’s one of my best buddies, but he should not be used as your go-to guy for such events. He likes to crack jokes, talk too much, carry on about nothing and tries to get your mind off of it. Or he’s trying to get HIS mind off it because he’s uncomfortable with the whole situation. I think he does it as a coping mechanism more for himself than for you. He’s always been a supportive dad and loves his kids dearly, but he’s not an emotional person. His affection comes in a form of a joke or sarcasm. Gee, I wonder where I get this from?

The procedure wasn’t that bad. Your mouth is sore and it’s uncomfortable trying to lie there with this huge contraption in your mouth while the dentist tries to hold a conversation with you. They have been doing this for years (I hope), haven’t they figured out that it’s damn near impossible to squeak out a coherent word? Maybe they grow to understand this language.

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By now I am heading to the receptionist desk. It was then that the bomb was dropped. She was  typing for what felt like 15 minutes while my dad and I stood there staring at her and she finally replies, “That will be $986”. I almost fainted. Here I am, a poor college girl with only a part time job to get through school and she wants me to pay the balance in full. I tell her that no one notified me that this had to be paid in full! She sighs and snottily asks me how much I can pay. I give her my card and squeak out “How about twenty bucks.” My dad LOST it. He had to walk away because he could not hold it together. I stood with tears in my eyes on how I’m going to pay this bill and he finds sheer enjoyment out of my response. The lady looked at me and I think she blinked at least ten times as if her eyes would somehow process what I said faster. She took my payment and I had to do the walk of shame through the lobby while (I’m sure) everyone stared at me with amusement. I find my dad waiting outside and he’s still laughing as I walk to the car.

I’m sore, numb and depressed from the whole experience. And I had to endure a car ride home of my dad repeating the whole scenario of paying only twenty dollars about a hundred times and laughing hysterically. In hindsight, it helped. And with a half-crooked, dopey smile from anesthesia, I began to chuckle as well. It’s a story he tells often, and he won’t let me live down. He teases me about this to this day whenever I have to pay for something. To make matters worse, I had several root canals on this tooth paying thousands of dollars and still had problems, so I ended up having to get it pulled. My bill was only $200.

Written By: Sara Garcia de Alba

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The Hug Connection

I love to read. Mostly fictional mysteries, but when I get bored, I will pick up a magazine and read the articles (and yes, the articles, not the dirty pictures). One day, I was waiting in a doctor’s office reading their outdated magazines and I came across an article along the lines of: “How to connect with your partner”. I thought, well I can give this a shot! Maybe they have tips and secrets that I don’t know about. Maybe I will razzle dazzle my husband with some mind reading skills to blow up, er, blow his mind. Or maybe I will just laugh at the silly ways people think work. In this case, it was the latter.

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I was particularly interested in the section about hugging. It said that if you hug your partner for 2 minutes per day, you will achieve a stronger connection. Now, it did NOT say whether these 2 minutes needed to be consecutive, but I got the impression that it did. My overly imaginative brain starts daydreaming off into a scenario of my husband and I standing in our kitchen, our three young children running around tearing up the house, a small fire ignites in the living room while the dog and cat are now hairless. And there we stand, blissfully in this embrace, eyes closed and feeling our relationship wrap a warm towel around us. And I bust out laughing. Like out loud. Patients around me give me the scolding glance as we should all be quiet because it’s a waiting room. I am not sure why I finished the article, but I was already invested, so I ventured forward.

Later that day, I get home and I tell my husband about the silly article of hugging for 2 minutes and we both laugh about it and continue our normal routine of 101 things we have to do to function as a family in the evening. It was a brief discussion of how hilarious that would be and that was it.

The next morning, my husband and I are getting ready and he gets upset over something I did. I can’t remember what it was because I was barely listening. To setup the important part of my story, we were standing in the kitchen and we have a stove top with a microwave above it. So, my husband’s back is to the microwave and he is saying something like “Why would you do that…blah blah blah…” and I just stop and face him. I notion for him to come here and I grab that burly man into a big hug with my arms around his shoulders. It was then that I reached out and hit the buttons for “2 minutes” on the microwave. All he can hear is “beep beep beep beep”. He lost it. He was trying to keep a straight face, but he couldn’t contain himself into full blown laughter. See, my husband knows I’m funny. But he won’t admit it. He says that it only “encourages” me to keep it up. So, when I say or do something funny, he tries very hard to brush it off. But I know better. As we are still standing there in this warm embrace, he breaks out of our love hug and says through his muffled laughter “Why do you have to do crap like this? I was all upset and you have to go and do this and now I can’t be mad anymore!”

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I am not sure how he puts up with me most of the time. I am a lot to handle with either goofing around or a hot temper. Some say he is a saint for marrying me. I like to think he enjoys the show. I mess with him all the time and he used to get upset, but now after nine years of marriage, he barely blinks an eye. It’s about time that I up my game. And now every time he gets upset, I motion with my hand for him to come in for a big “2 minute” hug and diffuse the situation. He laughs and tells me no. That’s a real marriage. Love from a distance.

 

Written by: Sara Garcia de Alba

Those Moments

I consider myself a fairly intelligent girl. I got good grades in school, decent amount of street smarts and can be professional when I need to be. Still, for some reason, I have my moments. Those moments that sneak up and make you question how you put your socks on in the morning. I like to believe these are my blonde moments. As embarrassing as these moments can be, it doesn’t stop me from telling everyone and anyone who will listen. I probably find them more hilarious than anyone else and I probably laugh harder while telling the story than my audience. I think it is because I vividly recreate the entire scene again in my head and it becomes funnier.

Which leads me to telling you my story of when I was a young gal. Just starting a new job in the Graphic Design world and feeling pretty proud of myself. I was single and free. At the time in my life when I could do my hair and makeup in the morning all by myself in peace and quiet. The only responsibility I had was to look cute and fresh. Now that I am older, married and have three young kids, it’s hard to imagine those mornings. I often wonder if I could put that amount of effort in now, would my “mom bun” and Lula Roe leggings be just as cute? Anyway, so I dress in the cutest Angora (fake) cardigan, adorable slim fitting shirt, oh-so-fitted perfect jeans and my new pointy-toe heels that have a dainty strap. The kind of strap that takes at LEAST 45 minutes to buckle as you contort your leg in the opposite direction to use one hand to get that little tiny metal “stick” into the tiniest hole and then try to thread the whole strap so it’s not flapping in the breeze like a broken wing.

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On my way to work I decide to bring in Dunkin’ Donuts to schmooze my way in with group. I parked in the parking garage and came to an intersection where it’s fairly busy to cross the street. I was strutting down the sidewalk like I was Kate Upton (sans the large jugs) with the box of doughnuts and my coffee sitting on top of the box. All of a sudden, I start sinking INTO the ground and I look down and I am dredging my beautiful dainty shoes through wet cement! I had already made it half way through, so I figured I had to finish the deed, by hopping like I was on stepping stones, into the street. I run across the street without looking, but I still have one more street to cross to get to my work. I look over and there’s the worker smoothing out the opposite corner of wet cement with sheer perfection. He saw the whole thing go down and he just kept working and staring at me while shaking his head. Probably thinking how dumb I was to NOT see the small board on the ground that was blocking off the wet cement. And how he was now going to have to go redo all of his perfect work.

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I sped past him with wet cement blocks as feet and finally make it inside to safety. I fumble to the lobby washroom and I set down the doughnut box. By now, it was soaked from the coffee that had tipped over and ran all over the top of the box. Miraculously, I didn’t have a drop of coffee on me! And still had some to spare to drink! As I look down, I am trying to assess the situation and worry about not being late. So, I get into my contortionist position by hoisting the ol’ block onto the sink and start pawing at the buckle to get my shoe off. I knew that this was risky, but I just started washing my shoes off in the sink. The whole time PRAYING the sink wouldn’t back up as the cement slid down the drain. I finally clean myself off and took a few breaths before entering the office.

The rest of the day went rather well as I sat the box of doughnuts near my desk (first ripping off the flimsy and wet top of the box so no one would notice it’s brownish/white color). I couldn’t help but giggle to myself as people came up to take a doughnut and comment on how they all tasted like a hint of coffee. I tried to maintain a seated position as my shoes were pretty much wet all day and squeaked as I walked. Not to mention the hardwood floors that amplified the sound for all to hear.

pexels-photo-273773.jpegLater, when I was more comfortable with my co-workers, I spilled the beans on what had happened to me. By this time, they knew me well enough to laugh and shake their heads as if they weren’t surprised. I did find out that another woman in the office had done the same thing of walking through wet cement around the same time I did. Interestingly enough, she was also blonde.

 

Written by: Sara Garcia de Alba