Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Facing Dr. Pagan

NEbody else out there scared 2 go 2 the dentist?
I actually got along pretty well (tho grudgingly) w/ dentists until I met the Ultimate Horror Dentist, Dr. Pagan, in the summer of 1990. I swear I'm not making this up.
I lived in Ankara, Turkey, in 1990-91, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, during the time of the 1st Gulf War. Tho there were things about Turkey that were kinda nice -- it was CHEAP, U could go NEwhere in the country on a bus 4 $10, the Springs were pretty, & it was VERY DIFFRENT from America -- the Gulf War pretty much ruined all of it.
Tho I did summa the best writing of my life 4 the base newspaper (& got a coupla awards 4 it), the stress was unending, Americans were constantly getting shot-at, & 1 of my friends & co-workers got blown-up by a car bomb a month B4 me & my young family (X-wife Cyndi, son ADD & newborn daughter AJD, born in Turkey -- the Best Thing 2 come outta the Xperience) were due 2 go Back Home.
Cyndi & I went thru the last month there inna daze, & looking back I C it as the 2 worst yrs of my life. But it's amazing how Bing under fire can 4ce U 2 focus much more intensely on yr work -- 2 its infinite betterment.
But smack in the middle of it I met Dr. Pagan. The Air Force was very good at making their personnel attend annual dental checkups. When I met Dr. Pagan I THINK I was having no major trouble w/ my wisdom teeth (tho I may B mis-remembering this). Certainly by the time of my 2nd Ncounter w/ him, 2 of my wisdom teeth had gone bad 2 the point that I could no longer eat or sleep -- Dr. Pagan had put them there by poking-around & clawing at my teeth w/ his various sadistic dental utensils.
Pagan Cmd like a nice enuf guy on my 1st visit. But after 30 mins of clawing around in my mouth w/ various hooks & picks & wedges & other instruments of Dstruction, he in4med me that all 4 of my wisdom teeth would havta B removed B4 they plunged me in2 a world of pain.
I wasn't thrilled. I'd previously Cn Cyndi have her 4 wisdom teeth removed all at 1nce when we lived in Texas, & the docs gave her General Anaesthesia, put her under 4 about 3 hrs. & when she woke up she was white as a ghost & puking. It wasn't pretty.
I was even less thrilled when Dr. Pagan told me -- due 2 some obscure Turkish law or some Islamic ruling reflected by Turkish law -- that he would B unable 2 Put Me Out or even give me Nitrous Oxide/laughing-gas during the procedure. The Turks didn't allow American 4ces 2 have these drugs available, 4 some bizaare reason. I was not looking 4ward 2 this....
Dr. Pagan knew my teeth were sensitive & that I was jumpy. & he Cmd like a really reasonable guy at 1st. When I returned on the dreaded day 4 the 1st 2 of the 4 Xtractions, Pagan shot me up w/ probly a dozen shots of novocaine 2 numb the pain I'd feel. When I complained that I could still feel the areas around the 2-B-Xtracted teeth, he nicely told me I'd better grab holda the dentist's chair & ride it out, cos if he shot me up NE more I'd probly never chew NEthing again.
Looking back, I mighta preferred a life full of chocolate shakes & yogurt. Pagan asked if he should strap me down in the chair. I shoulda said yes.
His plan was 2 pull the left-upper-rear & the right-lower-rear teeth 1st, then pull the other 2 remaining wisdom teeth on my return trip. Why he came up w/ this odd plan I have no idea -- so I wouldn't B able 2 speak or complain, probly. I'd only B able 2 whine & drool until my 2nd appointment 2 wks later....
The left-upper came out w/o 2 much straining, tho Pagan had 2 work at it, grabbing what looked like pliers & wrenching the tooth back & 4th til it came out all at 1nce by the roots. While trying 2 wrench the tooth out, the doc was pulling hard enuf on the pliers that he pulled me up outta the chair.
He gave me about 10 secs 2 catch my breath, then went after the other 1.
The right-lower-rear tooth was much worse. He'd warned me in advance that the lower teeth tended 2 stay imbedded in the jaw & it sometimes took some Xtra 4ce 2 work the tooth out.
He wasn't kidding.
He again went w/ the pliers, & this time when he pulled with them I was DRAGGED up outta the dentist's chair. I flopped back & he dragged me 4ward some more. My tooth cracked. I was already begging him 2 stop. I can't remember if I actually felt NE pain Bcos I was 2 shocked about how much I was getting thrown around.
Pagan tried again w/ the pliers, & I felt the tooth shatter. He sighed -- or perhaps swore -- under his breath, & reached 2 his tray of accessories 4 what musta bn a hammer. He started tapping on the tooth, steadily harder, until pieces of it started 2 pop out. There were pieces of my tooth flying across the room. I was crying. I begged him 2 stop.
He didn't. He grabbed the pliers again, & -- I swear -- he climbed on2 the arms of the dentist's chair 2 give him leverage 2 pull out what was left of my tooth. He began pulling again, again lifting me up outta the chair. I screamed.
Out front in the waiting room, my wife heard what she thot was me screaming & crying. & she was right. She asked the receptionist: "Do you think you might be able to check on my husband? I'm pretty sure that's him making all that noise."
"Sounds like he's having a pretty tough time," the receptionist said. She did get up, go back 2 the small exam room & take a quick look at what Dr. Pagan & his sadistic assistant minions were doing 2 me.
& then she reached over 2 where a radio had bn playing rather quietly, turned the volume on the radio UP, & pulled the door closed.
They had obviously bn thru this B4....
I whimpered & moaned & cried, & Dr. Pagan finally got the last remaining shards of my tooth outta my jaw. & then he left me there 2 cry 4 about 5 mins, while he lined me up 4 another appointment 2 pull the other 2 teeth, 2 wks later.
"I'm gonna give you a prescription 4 a coupla valium," he said. "I want you to take both of them about half an hour before your next appointment. And then maybe we'll have less trouble next time."
Like it was my fault....
But I didn't make it 2 wks. Bcos of his sadistic poking & prodding, in addition 2 the 1st 2 wisdom teeth trying 2 heal after their Xtraction, the other 2 were now useless -- I couldn't drink hot or cold liquids, I couldn't eat w/o pain, I couldn't sleep Bcos of the pain....
I made it a wk B4 I called the dental clinic. They told me 2 take the 2 valium as directed & come C Dr. Pagan again that aft.
This time I was at least relaxed. He only had 2 shoot me w/ novocaine 1/2adozen times. & Pagan had the 2 remaining teeth pulled within 5 mins.
I told him if I'da known it coulda made things that EZ, he shoulda given me the valium the 1st time around.
But I'd learned my lesson. I didn't C another dentist 4 at least 5 yrs, & only then when the pain from the dying tooth got so bad I couldn't eat or sleep. & tho I begged the new dentist -- a very careful, sensitive guy -- 2 just PULL THE DAMN THING, he said they preferred 2 try & save it if at all possible.
& it cost me $1,200+ 2 save 1 tooth.
Never again.
& tho I know there's another trip 2 the dentist looming out there, waiting 4 me, I'm putting it off As Long As Possible. 4 obvious reasons. If the pain of the tooth don't get U, the COST of it all surely will.
& tho there were occasional well-meaning sadists like Dr. Pagan, I've basically got nothing but praise 4 the military health-care system -- they sure took good care of me, my X-wife & my kids. If that's what gov't-run health care is sposta B like, I say Bring It On....

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