Well, not so much "panic" anymore. But it's been a right mess, let me tell you. Here's the short version of it. With it all laid out before you, it seems like just an unfortunate series of events, but when it was actually happening to you, event by nerve-wracking event...ugh, it was awful.
So, first off, I went at the end of April to Dr Williamson, or Westinghouse or Wilmington, or something like that, because I found him after searching the Peace Corps database of dentists that offer free evaluations for prospective volunteers. Being without dental insurance, free was the best course of action. Afterwards I had a laundry list of five cavities and four wisdom teeth needing to be dealt with.
I waited until I received my invitation before setting out on the expensive journey to "Dental Clearance". Leaving me with 6 weeks to complete the procedures. Plenty of time right? I called around to find the best rates for cavitiy fillings, and found in my own backyard, a place aptly called "Affordable Dental" in Factoria, boasting a $160 two-surface filling! Hoorah! Then, in an effort to offset the cost of the wisdom teeth extractions, which looked to be around $2500 for the set, I sought the opinion of an oral surgeon. I paid $75 (tips from a whole day of busy Sunday brunch serving French Toast and Veggie Scrambles, mind you) for that second opinion and for Doctor Kim off Bothell Everett Highway to write me a note stating that, in his clinical opinion, only my bottom two wisdom teeth needed extracting. Another Hoorah!
So, costs were down and things were looking up. Or so I thought. The fateful day I went to Affordable Dental, dark clouds started to gather casting a dark shadow over my two frugal achievments. Doctor Katie Byun at "Affordable Dental" sighed as she worked in my mouth and sat back in her chair, pulled off her mask and said "Well Elisa, your root is exposed and so we are going to have to perform a root canal." "Hao mu iz za?" (How much is that) I tried to get out without the use of my lips. "Around $1800, with the crown and build up" she replied. *imagine a dramatic thunderclap and lightning flash outside the window*
After two visits, and 6 hours. I was referred to a specialist. I paid upfront for the procedure and they still had my money, assuring me that we would put it to use when I "came back" for the build up and crown. With 4 weeks until departure, I still had all four wisdom teeth, four cavities, and one root canal requiring an Endodontist. I go on the search for an affordable endodontist with a schedule that could accomodate me immediately. I found one finally in Dr Yuum at Lakeside Endodontics near Valley View Baptist Academy, where I studied a couple years during middle school. Very professional, nice office, smelled warmly of vanilla and had current magazines to read. She told me that Dr Byun had done a good job and that the "anatomy" of my tooth (#14...oh yes, I know all the numbers of my teeth now...) was odd and that I had a hidden canal. I thought of Zelda and the jingle that might have played once the "hidden canal" was found. She found it, with the help of a huge microscope she looked through and lots of Endo-tools. Endo-scope. Endo-clamp. etc. etc.
My first visit to Dr. Scott Westford was such a relieving and wonderful experience. He was down to earth, talked easily and was very charming. "Peace Corps eh?" he said loudly as he looked in my mouth at the wisdom tooth on my lower right (#17). "Cool...Where are you going?" he asked. "Ha-o-a" (Samoa) I tried to get out. "Samoa huh?"(How is it that dentists could interpret what you were saying without actually forming the correct sounds? It's a talent they're rarely recognized for, I'm sure) He said "Well, I can do the back right, but I'm not touching the back left. It's a little too complex. I'll refer you to a buddy of mine. He'll do a good job and won't rob you blind, no worries." and he winked. I like professionals who wink.
The buddy of his was Dr. Gill, on Evergreen, right near Wienershnizel (sp?). He gave me the best deal I could have hoped for on the lower left (which was coming in lying down, rather than standing up...if you can imagine that) A nice round $350, without sedation. I'm skipping that. It's another $350, and for a 30 minute procedure, I think I can handle it with local numbing. We'll see Wednesday the 23rd, won't we!
It's Monday the 21st now, the build up and temporary crown was done by smooth-talking Dr. Westford at 7am. (He offered to do the crown at the same price as Affordable Dental AND get the permanent to me by the 1st of October AND he wrote a letter for me to the Peace Corps explaining that the crown was being made and would be applied and completed on the 1st of October, great guy. I'm gonna Yelp him. :D) Then I served some BBQ Pork Sandwiches. Dr Yumm at Affordable Dental did the remaining four cavities later. Then I saw "Jane Eyre" with Adam's grandma Fran and aquired a multitude of achy-ness. Now three of the four sides of my mouth have had some procedure done to them in the past week. Eating is out of the question. I stocked up on soup and yogurt.
Well, on Wednesday both the last wisdom tooth and the last of my savings will be extracted by Dr. Gill! Can't wait!