Monday, August 25, 2008

The Alphabet Backwards: D is for Dental Care and Delivery

The Alphabet Backwards is winding towards it close. This week we confront the letter D. D is for diamonds, dogs, diverticulitis, drama, dragnet, dragons, dessert, deserts, doubt, Darfur, duets, diagnoses, dumb bells, devils, darkness, Democrats, doggerel, deviled eggs, dew, Devonshire, Denmark, Detroit, downers, Down Under, default, dearth, debris, Dodge, Desdamona, duplicitous, derbies, dusk, dawn, darning, daisies, dogwood, dahlias, daffodils - lots of flowers seem to begin with d – distance, discovery, diary, dairy, disguises, doves, doors, dragonflies, dreams, dictators, Diebold, danger, democracy, demagogues, demonstrations, drugs, delivery, dental care….

Well, I can’t say that it isn’t tempting to go off on another rant about the Bush administration and the dangers Democracy is facing. I do hope some people will listen to the video series below about the Diebold machines. Since I posted that yesterday, I’ll skip a political tirade today… well almost. I’ve chosen two words for today’s theme. Dental Care and Delivery.

Since I moved to Upstate New York (first Sullivan County and now Delaware County), I’ve learned a lot more about how poor people are treated in this country. It isn’t pretty. Even though I’m disabled and technically poor, I grew up middle class and that makes the nature of my poverty pretty different, I think. First off, I had more than enough to eat my whole life. I had books and medical care when I needed it (at least before I became my own caretaker). I had literate parents and a decent education. I also had good dental care early on, something poor people in our country are apparently not entitled to unless their teeth need to be pulled. Dental care I learned from many of the people I met with ravaged mouths half full of rotting teeth – and half empty - dental care is, in the eyes of the stingy rich people who make the rules – cosmetic. The government will pay for dentures when your teeth have rotted and been pulled out – assuming you haven’t died from heart or other complications first. I wish I had more artistic skill but hopefully my two smiles give a hint of the difference in "affluent" teeth and those of the poor. Painting black smudges and darkening otherwise healthy teeth doesn't really give the full impact, but hopefully it gives some. Nobody should have to live with discolored and missing teeth in a society as rich and advanced as ours.

I believe that we should have universal health coverage, in which case dental care would presumably be covered as well. In the meantime, these demented and Draconian (D words) policies, besides being evil and obscene add to the health care problems of the poor. Bad teeth impact your overall physical health and your emotional health. They make you less employable. They make you feel bad about yourself. And they make you sick, sometimes profoundly and fatally ill. Dental infections are especially dangerous to diabetics. They can lead to serious heart problems. But as far as Medicaid is concerned, they are a cosmetic issue. How shameful that the richest country in the world treats it’s citizens with such lack of compassion and respect. It makes me angry. It makes me sad. It makes me profoundly grateful that I have very strong teeth. I’ll dental rant at that for the moment and close on a lighter note. (I’ve been quite a curmudgeon the last week or so. I’m not feeling well and it makes me extra cranky.)

So my other choice of D words (since I decided to avoid politics) was delivery. I really miss it. I can’t say I really miss New York City. Because of my disability, I was kind of a prisoner in my apartment the last years there. And I like my little house and looking out the window at trees and birds and chipmunks. But I do miss… really, really, really miss… DELIVERY. Other than UPS, Fed Ex and the Post Office - oh – and Schwanns, thank God - nobody delivers anything here in the middle of nowhere. You want it, you’d better be able to go and get it yourself. In truth, it’s probably a good thing. I’m kind of a delivery junkie. When I lived in NYC, I could pick up the phone and have a couple of days worth (more cost effective that way) of Afghanistani food, or Chinese, or …. I could have a pizza delivered or… Pretty much anything I wanted. It was terrible for my health, I suppose, but oh, how delightful. I actually suggested to one of my neighbors that it would be a great business for someone around here. You could deliver for all the local businesses. He said he had actually thought of that when he first moved up here but the businesses wouldn’t go for it. Too bad. Of course, Hancock, doesn’t offer any good Afghan restaurants either.

One more thought on the subject of delivery. It’s one of the gifts of the internet for people like me. Maybe I can’t get meals, but I can get almost everything else – movies, groceries, books, my camera, cat food and litter – all things that I don’t have to burden my kind and already overly generous friends with doing for me. Last week I found a good buy on garbage bags at I’m set for the next year and a half. Yippee!

So that’s it from me for the letter D. Only C, B and A and then I’m sprung from this goofy idea for good and my noble kind-hearted visitors won’t be forced to read them any more either. Phew.

Have a great week.


Carletta said...

I so agree with health care and dental issues.
I lot of sterotypical jokes surround us here in WV; but the truth is it is not a wealthy state and people can't afford the high cost of going to the dentist - money has to go for basic survival needs. That's true across the country. I hope a new administration will put health issues on top.
Delivery - we used to order pizza once a week. Not any more. But, it sure tastes great when we do go get some!
D - dessert - let's have some!

quilly said...

Raven, I enjoyed reading this entry! I live in a state where it is not at all unusual to see moths full of crooked, rotten teeth. The thought of the pain -- not to mention the other complications -- makes me just cringe. I am such a baby about tooth pain.

My dad had rotten teeth all his life, and I remember the first time I saw (or noticed) his laugh after he got dentures. He tipped his head back and laughed long and loud and I suddenly thought of all of the years he spent laughing with his hand over his face so no one would see his teeth.

My father's childhood poverty left him unaware of the seriousness and need for dental care until he ended up in hospital from a life threatening accident. The doctor talked to him about peridontal infection and why it was taking his broken bones (leg, arm, ribs, shoulder blade, skull) extra long to heal.

Jeff B said...

Having been born with a cleft lip and pallet, I am all too familiar with all things teeth! Thank the good Lord I had parents who were both willing and able to obtain the proper care for me.

Like you say, it really is a shame that anyone in this country should have to go without proper dental (or medical) care.

peppylady said...

I'll make this short and sweet.

Dubya and his cronies real hurt a lot of people.

I might someday do the alphabet backward.

Stop on in when you get the chance and coffee is always on.

Dianne said...

Since I pay nearly $800 a month now for my health insurance I could not afford the dental attachment.

I have thousands of $$$ of work still waiting to be done.

Rent and insurance have gotten so expense for my dentist that he can no longer afford to offer people long payment programs and he now has to charge a handling fee.

It is a never ending cycle of being pushed and squashed from all sides.

and the moron fiddles about while the economy burns ;)

Raven said...

Carletta - it is so sad to me that people suffer these kind of dental issues. I'm lucky that I have inherently strong teeth and that I had good care when I was young. I haven't had the money for the dentis myself for about 20 years now.

quilly - my mother had bad teeth her whole life and like your father - when she eventually got dentures was more comfortable with her smile. Being who she was, she made sure I felt guilty for having good teeth.

jeff b - I'm glad you were able to get the care you needed. It makes me so angry that dental treatment is considered "cosmetic" care and that it is so out of reach of so many.

peppylady - Dubya and his cronies aren't the only ones to blame on this. I'm pretty sure it pre-dates them. They have just made all the bad things even worse.

dianne - $800/month! Agh. How do you manage? Oddly the lucky thing about being disabled is I get insurance for almost nothing. I never go to the doctor and I refuse to take any kind of medication, so I don't know how GOOD the insurance is, but at least I have it.

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