Dental Dilemma

Last evening after dinner in the hotel (which was quite good and reasonably priced for a Holiday Inn), Ray went for a walk to the drugstore to fetch some Advil for me and my tooth/gum situation and he managed to get lost while reading his map so it was quite some time that he was gone and while he was doing that I was looking for something I had lost in the room and I found two more Advils which I took to ease the pain. Meanwhile, Ray finds a pharmacy which had the hours posted on the door proclaiming that it was open until 6:30 but it was closed at 6:10 when he arrived so that prompted him to wander farther afield and he finally found a pharmacy open and bought Advil with codeine (didn’t know there was such an animal on the market) and regular Advil and brought it back to me, his damsel in distress. I alluded to a bit of this in last nights rant but I wanted to paint the picture fully for you, the dear reader.

At 4:10 a.m. I awoke with pounding in my head so I go up and took two more pills…one of each variety and managed to get back to sleep only to awaken at 7. At this point Rayman reminded me that in his search for a pharmacy, he saw several dental offices so he suggested that we walk down to Mascot (name of the suburb we’re in) and find a dentist. Blind faith. So, I agreed because I didn’t have a better idea. So, we got to a dentist office that said it offered 24 hour emergency dental service. Only the place was closed and no one was inside (the front of the place was all windows). Uhm. People of Mascot play fast and loose with the time. So, we crossed the street and entered a building that said, “Mascot Medical and Dental Service” mainly because it was the first office that we came across that was open. We were directed upstairs by a very friendly woman where we entered a reception area that was comprised of one desk with a counter that had a sign on it warning people not to lean on the counter. And there was a cheerful young woman standing there. She had just about enough room to turn around. There were several (maybe 5 seats) lined up against the wall to her left and two ‘booths’ with doors directly behind her with a printer and on her right and a television above her which was on a channel with lots of commercials. When I sat down, I was maybe 5 feet from the reception desk and we were close enough that she(seated in her chair) handed me paperwork (and I was sitting down too). Anyway, she said she would check with the Dr. He was the only dentist working today and his schedule was very busy. Oh, dear. But there we were.

The Dr. was Egyptian and had an Egyptian accent blended with Aussie and Kiwi accents so he was very hard to understand. After asking a few question, he announced that x-rays were needed. And he took me back out of his office and into the reception area and straight into door number 1…a booth. In it was a tall, white machine. He had me bite down on a piece of plastic and stick my chin in an indented place designed for chins and then he left the booth. The white machine came on and circled my head. Ray described it as an orbital x-ray machine. Then he came in and got me and led me back into his office. His office was also quite small. He had a desk in the corner with a screen and that is where he instantly looked at my x-rays. More questions were asked. Several questions were repeated because I had no idea what he was saying. But we muddled through. So now it was time to look in my mouth. He made the very comfortable, modern chair recline and there was a television suspended from the ceiling and the news with arabic subtitles was on. When he was finished literally banging on my teeth, he took two more x-rays in the comfort of my chair to verify what he was suspecting. When he was regarding those additional x-rays which instantaneously appeared on his screen by his desk, I told him how impressed I was with his office equipment. I’d never seen an x-ray machine like that. No gagging involved. What a revelation. And the TV above me. That was a nice touch. The assistant said, oh, yes, there is another TV monitor on the wall for when the patient is sitting up partially and one right in front of my face hanging at eye level and in front of some of the dental equipment. Wow. He explained that all his equipment was digital and it was much better for the comfort of the patient and was also better for the Dr. “More expensive but worth it. And the TV provides a good distraction for the patient. They like it.”

He was very curious about cost of dentistry in the U.S. He said crowns in AU ran about $1500. $1300 for a root canal. And he was amazed at how little insurance we have. Our plan I told him covered about $2000 a year for a family. Rayman and I blew through that in March. Very interesting conversation. He said he would email my x-rays to my dentist, gave me his card and deposited me out in the waiting room. Oh, and apparently I do not have a tooth issue per se. My soft tissue is inflammed so he wrote me two prescriptions on one piece of paper, charged me $320 and sent me on my way. The two prescriptions cost me $17.20.

While paying the bill we found out that you can watch your favorite show, bring in your family photos on a DVD, bring in a movie. Whatever. And whatever you watch will be projected on all three screens. And the Dr. also has the ability to show you your mouth and x-rays on it at well. Perhaps a frightening thought…my opened mouth on three monitors. I should have asked if people had ever been compelled to run out of the room faced with a picture of their mouth?

But I digress.

Okay. Now. I ask you. Does your dentist do this? Have you ever seen this before? I was blown away. Wandering in off the street in a multi-ethnic neighborhood and getting seen within 30 minutes of arrival by an Egyptian dentist in a small, cramped office outfitted with the most modern dental tools in my world… where I can watch TV or a DVD while a procedure is performed is in a word, stunning. Really. And the whole experience took 20 minutes with the dentist.

And we yada yada yada about socialized medicine this, and socialized medicine that…and long lines where you have to wait months. I’m just saying.

When we returned from the dentist, I had an email from our new Aussie friends that we exchanged homes with so I emailed them back and we arranged to have lunch together. And they picked us up at our hotel!! Then they drove us to an area of town we had not seen. Here’s some pics.






Then they drove us to a point where I snapped the pictures below. Then we drove by Bondi beach and they then delivered us back to our hotel.

What a delightful afternoon we shared. They were so nice and very funny. It was a hoot. Jed had some funny sayings that he used. Wished I would have recorded it. Like ‘he’s about to fall off the perch’, meaning die. And he was smitten by the hair hats I have…they are baseball caps with fake hair on top. So he went out and bought one for himself. And then they got such a bang out of being greeted by Elvis inside our front door, that he took pictures of that. All these stories were stitched together with very colorful vernacular language.

I asked our hosts of they had ever walked across the Harbour bridge. “Oh, yes. It is quite extraordinary.” Jed then told us that they took his 80-year old mother up for the climb on her birthday. He reports that they put you in zoot suit, strap you in so you can’t possibly fall away, and you speak thru a microphone and wear earplugs. So while up there they sang happy birthday to his mum even though she was, “as deaf as a post” explained Jed. Lyn said mum smiled and read their lips…”she knew what we were doing.” How cool was that? Not just anyone would think of that…torturing their dear old mum for her birthday by marching her up and down an extremely high bridge. But, hey. I kid our hosts!! And I do that because they told me they read my blog. So…I want to make them laugh.
Here is the point which is famous for suicides, good views and possibly murders. This is also the opening to Sydney harbour.

The other thing is our conversation was very informative. They do retirement different here. There is means testing for social security. And they have defined contribution plan but at age 60 they can access the fund in their plan tax free. How good is that? They also give citizens dividend tax breaks for investing in companies that are located in Australia. And you are required to vote. No excuses. I think Jed mentioned that a fine may result if you, say, stayed away from the polls to work on your model airplane. So, while the U.S. states are busy trying to make voting harder, the Aussies are working very hard to make sure everyone participates.

It was also interesting to hear their impressions of California. They went to a Giants game and loved it. They were amazed at our micro-climate weather. Liked our wines, fruits and veggies. Sounds like they loved our spot in the world as much as we loved theirs!! I’d call that a win-win. And we all agreed that home exchanges are a great way to travel because you are in a neighborhood for a time and you get to experience the place and the people.

So…now Rayman and I are in our hotel room, waiting for the semi-final rugby game between Australia and Wales to find out who ends up in 3rd and 4th place. We’re all packed ready to head to the airport in the morning for our flight back to LAX. And I can’t even drown my sorrows because the antibiotic I’m now taking restricts my drinking which will be good for my waistline…but a bummer in other ways like what am I going to wash that dark chocolate down with tonight? Humm. A sip wouldn’t hurt, would it?

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