Tuesday, June 23, 2009


When I was 16, I very gracefully knocked out half of my own front tooth with a tennis racket. "Swing up", he said. And swing up I did. Right into my own face nearly knocking myself out along with the tooth. Based on the sympathetic howls of laughter from my family as I stood crying with tooth now in hand, I decided at that point that comedy might be better suited for me than tennis.

Since then, every five years or so, the fake part of my tooth takes a good long look at my daily life and chooses the most inopportune time to fall out. Leaving me with a toothless grin somewhere between "hillbilly" and "6 year old". Like the time in college, sitting in the front row while nervously and stupidly flicking my front tooth with a pen. It flew out of my mouth and landed at the professor's feet which resulted in me nearly crawling across the floor and having to ask "um, excuth me, I juth need to pick up my tooth...thorry...thorry...."

Two days before I leave for NY for two weeks, I decided that three day old baguette really COULD work as toast and CRRRRRUNCH. Off with the tooth. This time, however, only MOST of it came off, instead leaving a tissue thin piece of tooth I can almost see through. Anything heavier than cream of wheat is gonna send the rest of this puppy flying.

okokokokokokokokokokok DO. NOT. PANIC. You can cry but NO PANIC.

I have yet to see a dentist here but remembered that a friend gave me the name of an American dentist a while ago. I called, my voice heavy with certainty that I would never be able to get an appointment on such short notice and would be spending the day trying to find someone who could fix this before I leave for uninsured NY. I almost fainted when the receptionist told me "sure, come in Thursday and we'll fix it". My New York dentist made me wait a WEEK the last time this happened and the final bill (WITH my insurance coverage) came to $450.

I just cannot get over the ease of my experience with the health care system here. Every time I have had to seek medical care, I get this trained pit in my stomach from being hassled by the American system for so many years. And I am young and had full health coverage! For all my friends who have NO coverage, it's just an inhuman NIGHTMARE. All the hour long phone calls I have made to insurance companies over the years...for ridiculous things like fighting over why I should not pay $300 out of pocket for a mammogram as it is preventive care and is covered. (Apparently not if you're under 35 even if it was prescribed by the doctor....and why is a mammogram $300 in the first place?) I have not had to pay off thousands of dollars in dental bills in installments over three years time. The list goes on....

I know that the health care system here in France faces issues of how it will continue to pay for all the care, but I really hope this will last. Because it feels amazing when a society takes care of its citizens. When it's seen as a right, not a privilege to receive basic health care.

Go France!

:).....smiling my toofless grin.


BJ Lantz said...

Oh dear, that tennis racket incident sounds exactly like something I would do (even now). I am sure my demise will be a Darwin-Award-Winner. However, what I did do at the age of 14 was fly over my bicycle handlebars and land front-tooth-first on the pavement - 2 days before 7th grade started. I am now on my 4th crown, this one looking and holding the best - so far.

And interestingly enough, I just had a lively dinner conversation with a Brit who lived in Paris for 19 years and has lived in the states for nearly 25 years now. He didn't have great things to say about French healthcare, or socialized medicine either for that matter. But I am with you - the US healthcare system is more than a joke.

I arrived in Italy once so sick I probably shouldn't have left my livingroom let alone the country. I got in to a doctor in Venice immediately who barely spoke English, but he figured out the problem and prescribed some eye drops, cough pills and antibiotics (yeah, I was a mess). His visit cost $25 US and all three prescriptions were $28 US. That kind of thing really does make you wonder why things are so whack in our system.

Kelly said...

Um did you know that doctors in France still make house calls? If you haven't done this yet, get sick immediately, have FB call the doc and enjoy lying in your bed as the doctor comes to see you with his black bag. This was the greatest thing about living in France, perhaps even better than the bread. And you don't have to tip doctors (a mistake I made!)

KFD said...

Glad it's not just me! :) I got the tooth fixed today and it feels sooooo much better to have all my teeth back in!