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A Work in Progress

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I have a major dental phobia.  Well, not a phobia in the strictest definition, my fear is perfectly rational and hard won.  I always try to make sure this issue doesn't affect my girls.  And, until recently, it never has.

For many years we went to Bourne Dental Associates.  When we lost our old insurance, we couldn't go there any longer and my heart was broken.  They had always been so very good to us there.  Even when I had to go for me, they were so caring and kind that I would manage to make it in the door.  In any case, we had to say goodbye.

We've been going to a nearby dental clinic and they are perfectly nice and have done a good job with the kids cleaning.  With Jenna's first filling, she had a bad experience, not enough Novocaine, fear and communication issues and she was terrified to go back.
Still, we managed to get through another filling, this time not so bad.  Then the tooth that was first filled broke.  And they referred us to another dentist that takes our insurance and off we went. (apparently the ONLY pediatric dentist our insurance company uses on the Cape)

Flag #1 As I completed the forms, at the bottom where I was supposed to sign there were two contradictory statements.  The first said I gave my consent for anything the dentist deemed necessary.  The second said that treatment would be discussed with the parent.  It didn't seem to say anywhere that it would be informed consent BY the parent PRIOR to treatment.  So I brought it up to the dentist and asked.  
He talked over me, patronizing me telling me that this is what it means and it is standard, blah blah.    I figured, as this was just an evaluation visit, no big deal.
We got xrays and went in and every time Jenna or I spoke, he kind of dismissed whatever we were saying but whatever.  He was almost over the top perky about it, but definitely dismissive.

Flag #2
Jenna tried to tell him that she was nervous because she had not had enough Novocaine for a filling and he pooh poohed her!  He said that wasn't the case, you are either numb or you are not and the amount wasn't the issue. " WOW", I was thinking, "that is a load of crap and most of my family will attest to the fact that we are often under-medicated as we seem to have a really high tolerance level for anesthetic."

Flag #3
We go out to make the appointment for the extraction and there is another form to initial in a number of places and one of them says that I can't be with her for the procedure.  I signed, we got on the list for a cancellation and left.  I was uneasy and called Mike and told him I think they said I can't be with her.  He said to find out because that was not acceptable.  This is an office we were new too with people we do not know.  So, I got home and sent a very polite email.  

Dear Dr. Xr,
On the way out, I was informed that I would not be allowed into the room with Jenna for her procedure.  My husband and I  are not at all comfortable with this. 
We have always been allowed and encouraged to be with our children in both doctor, hospital and dentist visits.  While I am sure you have excellent reasons for having the policy, the fact of the matter is that we will not leave our daughter alone for medical or dental procedures.  Please understand it has nothing to do with you or any of the lovely people we met there today.  It is purely a parenting decision and I hope you understand.
We respectfully request that I stay with our daughter during her visit.

While waiting for a response, I posted on my favorite message boards, asking if this, not allowing parents in for a procedure, was a standard thing and was I just over-reacting.
I got 41 answers with only one saying they like to sit and have the time to read a magazine.  Everyone else said that they not only would, but have, walked and found someone else if they are not allowed to be with their kids.  I was feeling better.

I had emailed my Mom too and got this startling email in return.
"be very interesting to see what he says to you – keep me posted -  doubt you will remember but years ago, I took you to a dentist on Rte 132 – the appointment was not going well for whatever reason(I was never told) and the dentist took you into another room and SHUT THE DOOR -  I flipped out and was taken to the hospital!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I will never forget it" 
I didn't remember but I am beginning to suspect where some of my major authority issues came from and I said to myself, that will never, ever happen to one of mine.

I got a phone call a couple of hours later.  The woman on the phone was very curt and said that, "Dr. X believes that you are not a good fit for this office".  Thinking to myself, "You have no idea how not suited we are," I replied, "We absolutely are not, thank you for your time".

Mike and I decide we will call the girl's old dentist and just pay out of pocket.  A delightful young man named Brian answered and he was fabulous, got us right in.
I drove down to pick up her xrays from the clinic and called my BFF.  The first words out of her mouth were, "Tell me you didn't get referred to Dr. X!  I had known that she had a horrific time at a dentist with her littlest but I had not recalled the name of the dentist.  Her story was the stuff of nightmares.  I felt this enormous relief, like we had just dodged a bullet. 
It was totally a God thing, He had this one covered.

This morning we went in to our old dentist's office.  They greeted us like long, lost friends, the whole atmosphere was warm and welcoming and it went without a hitch.  These were genuine smiles, real warmth and caring and it showed.
Nitrous Oxide on board, tooth out, filling done,  all smiles, no fear, no pain.   Even some giggling and humming from behind the grape-scented "nose" were heard.
A far cry from her shaking and crying, pleas to "go home right now" and rigidness getting her last filling.

Yeah, we put it on a credit card.  Yeah, it was expensive and it is going to take some time to pay off.   However, as far as I am concerned, folks like that,  who take care of her like that, are priceless.  

Thank you Dr. Dugas, Brittina, and all of you.  You are treasures and a credit to your profession.


Marie May 4, 2011 at 4:08 PM  

This will absolutely be worth EVERY cent you have to pay. It makes such a difference to have health professionals you can trust and who treat you and your children with respect. How great that you trusted your instincts and spoke up. But at the same how sad that you needed to.

Laura May 4, 2011 at 10:51 PM  

Glad you spoke up! Don't ever let Dr., Dentist, or anyone else push you around, you are here parent and they can absolutely not ask you to leave unless she is having real surgery in an OR or somthing! I would pay the extra money too no matter how long it took to pay off!

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