About a month ago, I felt sharp pain in a #18 molar at the back of my mouth. It led to some dental work, then a root canal. Then other treatments to deal with the side effects of the root canal. And finally, they yanked the tooth out yesterday.
That tooth was compromised a few years back when I was running my own little company and paying for my own health and dental insurance. Admittedly the dental insurance was not the best policy in the world. But I tried to make do and keep up with the almost inevitable issues that come along with having teeth in your mouth.
But that dentist was not overly skilled. She put a crown on the tooth that turned out to be badly designed. It always hooked food under a lip on the front side and that led to some hidden decay that ultimately destroyed the tooth.
That resulted in infection, and two days ago it turned into a serious condition. When I say serious, I mean life-threatening. The swelling ran away with my face and there was a risk of my breathing pathways being blocked.
Tarsnakes all around us
I know. Sounds weird. It all lines up with other strange events with infection that I’ve had over the last six years. In 2013 I picked up a sliver in the middle finger of my left hand. It turned red with infection and spread down the finger. I went to urgent care to get it checked. They told me I could lose the finger if I didn’t get to a hand specialist right away.
None of us is truly prepared for events like that. They are the tarsnakes of our existence. To go from “life is normal” to “you could lose your finger” is a weird jump in consideration. That finger required surgery and intense antibiotic washes to check the infection and get it back under control. Then came three weeks of self-administered antibiotic drip in which I hooked myself up to a series of
Cat nip fever
The next year I got nipped by our cat and it turned into cellulitis on the back of my left hand. That meant antibiotics (again) that actually killed my good bacteria. Result: a dangerous condition called c.Diff that could have killed me.
I’ve also crashed on my bike, busting my collar bone and luckily surviving a near miss with a metal cable that could have decapitated me.
So I set here a bit thankful for dentists and endodontists and oral surgeons who know all too well what tooth infections can do. I’m sore and swollen, but hopefully the antibiotics and pain meds will carry me through.
To your health
To me this is a parable about the importance of attentive health care but also decent access to health care insurance. These problems are all the direct result of having to compromise on quality of insurance as a self-employed person. The cost of buying your own insurance when you’re not part of a big corporate pool is daunting. The entire process in which small businesses try to find affordable insurance is a dark and bloody stain on the American Dream.
It is far past time to ask the hard questions. The first is this: What kind of country (or party…) so radically favors the corporate mindset that it willingly discriminates against hard-working, entrepreneurial people running their own companies and struggling to afford insurance for themselves or their employees. America (or its corporate proxy) is essentially telling them, “Sorry, you’re not good enough to justify fair insurance rates for your employees.”
The same people tossing small businesses under the bus in favor of “free-market” health care are those who want to prevent people with pre-existing conditions from having access to insurance at all. They propose throwing all those folks into their own high-risk pool and charging them up the ass just to stay alive.
None of these things is remotely acceptable in a rational nation. As a result we are a nation that worships selfishness as a sign of patriotism. That’s how Trump got elected.
The signs of this backwards reality are everywhere. There is the belief that it is gun violence is what keeps us safe. There is the claim that climate change is a hoax. There is the belief that teaching evolution is against the nation’s state religion. It’s all capped by an aggressively ignorant President who lies every day and insists that his version of reality is the straightest path to truth.
It has been a painful three years dealing with the Orange Molar of Lies. Trump is the infected tooth in the American Dream. His rapidly rotting leadership his poison attitude are spreading, and might just kill us all. It’s time to extract him from office and get America back on the road to healing.