This is an update to my Smile journey.
After attempting to tap into the local dental pool for professionals willing to participate in the HALO Network, I came up exceedingly empty. I was disappointed, but not surprised. After being ghosted by the first few, I kind of got a feel for what dentists were all about, and it certainly isn’t what they claim on those bright, shiny ads. Of course, it was completely childish to assume anyone in their right mind would help someone out of the kindness of their heart. Though, to be fair, these dentists would have received future benefits on supplies and tools and all of the materials needed for up to a $50,000 procedure were provided 100%. Literally, the only thing these dentists would have been donating is their time. I’m over it. I know what I need, and I know I’ll never be able to afford it. So, I’m settling for what I can get. Good, old-fashioned dentures.
No more pity parties. I’ve been down this road many times before. I call. I’m given promising leads into what I think might be a viable solution. I show up. Still hoping for the best, but with that hope eroding soon after walking in the doors. I’m told all the same things as I was on the phone, only now there are stipulations, and the amount I’m quoted is way out of my budget. I’ve never had good insurance, and right now, I’m going without – it’s just too expensive. I’ve begun to feel like a walking dollar sign ever time I step foot in a medical facility, with the ‘doctors’ only treating their wallets. Okay, I ranted a bit. But, seriously. No. More. Pity. Parties. I’m taking my fate into my own hands. Though I recognize the only way I’m able to do so is by coming into a small amount of money – just enough to get the job done. Well, the first part of it anyway.
See, today, I called around to more dentists, only this time, I was looking to set up a consultation, rather than trying to get even one single dentist interested in the HALO Network. That is, and I’m afraid always will be, a fruitless effort. Now, I’m ready and able to take the first step to finally fixing my teeth, and finally, FINALLY living true to myself… not to mention the cheeseburgers… 🍔! A dentist with Aspen Dental in Alton, Il was able to get me in right away, and my family and I made the 40 minute, bi-state trip to the one dentist not booked until mid-Spring and who at least seemed fairly budget-friendly. Just my first call with the lady at their call center, Shay, was a bright, shining sign of good things to come. She was so sweet, sympathetic, and helpful without being at all judgmental or condescending. I really hope she had a great day. She set up my appointment, and that’s when the magic really began…
I could see it in their eyes. These people actually cared – about me, not my bank account. They saw the distress I was in (have been in for over 12 years now) and immediately jumped into action. Bri was the funniest and most gentle nurse. So cool she had the down-to-earth, chill demeanor as my cousin of the same name! I think she could tell I was really nervous and managed to make the X-rays an actual pleasant experience. Who’d have thought biting on metal over and over again could be entertaining? When Bri brought me back to the procedure room, I met their dental hygienist, Tyler. Boy, was he a vessel of absolute periodontal knowledge! It brought another smile to my face, albeit beneath my mask, to know he shared my sons name. I could tell this guy knew what he was talking about, too. And it weirdly seemed like he genuinely cared about other people’s well-being… another first for me, at least in a dentist’s office.
Now, when Dr. Mann came in, I began to get really nervous. This was it – the moment they tell me it will be fifteen thousand dollars, an arm, a leg, a lock of my hair, and a special ruby that only blossoms from a rare flower once every one hundred years – oh, and they can’t get me in until the Fall. I braced myself. I knew the process almost by heart by now. I really wasn’t sure I could handle that disappointment again, and honestly, they may have just seen it in my face – that I’d given up, that I was at the end of my rope, having suffered for so long with no relief in sight. That’s when a truly amazing thing happened. THEY CARED. They actually and literally cared about me. Dr. Mann called the office manager in and told her I needed to be taken care of asap. The words were music to my ears. What an absolute saint!!
Sadly, I did have to remove the partial temporary product I’ve been using to shield myself from a majority of the pain and issues. In doing so, the product was destroyed, and I’m left with no replacement until I get this situation sorted. I’ve no clue how I’ll eat, though getting a protein shake down with a straw wasn’t completely terrible. I’ll struggle. I’ll deal with the throbbing gums and hunger pangs. As long as it amounts to something in the end. I cannot – will not – let this opportunity pass me by. I may have trouble affording it, but I truly can’t afford not to get them fixed at this point.
Nikki, the Office Manager at Aspen Dental, who coincidentally shares a name with my lovely sister-in-law, was right on top of things. It’s so crazy how half of the people in this one office share names with some of the people I love and care about the most in this world…🤔 Anyway, I had a bit of a wait while she finished up with a previous patient, and while I sat there, the doubts began to return. Sure they’d shown sympathy, but it could just as easily be a ploy to take advantage of my desperate situation. Honestly, who knows? All I really know is, they treated me with respect. I never once felt shamed or ridiculed for my situation. It truly was like walking into another universe – one where humanity thrives by helping each other instead of leeching off each other.
So, here’s the plan moving forward: My next appointment is this coming Thursday. They will fit me with a mold, I guess, and then schedule me for the procedure, hopefully as soon as Saturday. The entire procedure will cost $5,883, but they are being super awesome and letting me make two payments. The first is due on Thursday and the second when I come in for the procedure… and walk out with new teeth!!! I have to admit, even though I thought I was prepared for how much this would cost, I was still caught off guard by the nearly 6k price tag. But, they gave me an itemized list of all the charges and they make sense. Either way, I only had $1500 to put toward the first payment of $3,529.80. My deity-of-a-brother, another unrecognized saint, graciously loaned me the difference. So I’m set for Thursday! Then, it’s just one more, last hurdle until I can finally, eat, smile, talk, and just BE ME.
That last hurdle? It’s a respectable $2,353.20 to finish up that $5,883 total. And it’s due the day of the procedure. Where am I going to get it? No clue. Is that going to stop me from trying? Not a bit!! I am closer now than I’ve ever been before and I will NOT be backing down. Even if it means I have to stand on the corner selling every item I own (which is mostly just books), I will figure out a way to come up with that last 2k+!! If you’ve been following along with my Smile journey – maybe you’ve taken the time to nominate me for the HALO program, for which I whole-heartedly thank you – you’ll know what long-standing issues I’ve faced and what a monumental, life-changing moment this will be when it finally happens.
If you can find it in your hearts to help, even just $1 would really make a big difference and would mean so very much to me. You can find my Paypal info below. Just know that I abhor accepting charity. There are so many other people suffering in the world, it just feels wrong for me to take anything I haven’t earned. Still, I’ve come to realize there are times when I truly need help, and that I’ll never be able to care for others the way I would like until I get this done.
There is true potential of actually making this 12-year-long dream come to fruition. Hopefully, I’ll manage to come up with the second payment in time. I have to, somehow. I’m repeating myself, I know. ‘I have to‘ is basically my mantra now – soon to become, ‘I did.’
And, of course, I’ll be live-streaming the resulting bright, shiny smile!!😁 (erm, pending the final funds, that is…😕)