On May 19th of last year I briefly discussed my first experience with Northern dentistry, with somewhat disappointing results. Now let me tell you about my week. We've been waiting for the dentist to visit this town since the day we arrived, however it seems when the dentist has time, the town can't find a place to put him up and as such he has never been here. The tooth mentioned in the beginning of this sentence has remained unchanged till approximately a week ago. Last week it cracked, not all the way just about halfway down. Last weekend it split all the way down and again quartered itself, conveniently upon the start of break-up (sarcasm). It was interfering with my sleep and was causing considerable pain, it seems our intrepid dentist from last year failed to complete her first task, that being the root canal. This left me alone in the store on Monday tired, in pain and grumpy. I called Melissa upstairs and asked her to bring me some needle-nose pliers downstairs, I believe it was at this very moment that I realized I may have been in the north too long. Home dentistry seemed to be my best option.
After twenty minutes, 4 Tylenol and some truly excruciating pain I gave up, my only success being in removing the back of the tooth and the base. Time to come up with a plan B, I called the health center and asked the nurse if she'd pull it out for me. It seems that when your yanking on your very sensitive tooth your hand not only sweats a lot but also has this annoying habit of releasing the tool causing this sensation. Damn the concept of a dry town, some liquid fortitude might have helped, it certainly couldn't have hurt.... more. The nurse said she's call me back in twenty minutes. She told me the hospital in Inuvik would be waiting for me at 6:00, a quick call to my district manger to explain why I was closing the store, then a call to the schools principal to see if I could borrow his car and I was ready to race to Inuvik for a quick extraction and back by 9:00, in theory. Now, the road has been hazardous for a week now, but I thought if the bootleggers can still make it, then so could I. Melissa and Christopher tagged along to offer emotional support, or maybe it was a chance to go shopping and eat out at a restaurant, I'm betting on the emotional support aspect though. We're off to Inuvik in the principals new Yukon. The road wasn't as bad as I expected but judging by the whiteness of Melissa's knuckles and the incessant giggling from the back seat, I may have been biased by the pain.
We arrived in Inuvik right around 6:00 and I dropped Melissa and Christopher off at the restaurant and went off to my appointment. Now in my haste I really didn't go into details with the nurse but I had made some assumptions. Since I made it clear that I couldn't close the store for a day, she knew that I wanted it done fast and loose so I could get back to work. When I arrived at the emergency room and was immediately identified by the nurse as the tooth extraction from Tsiigehtchic, it seemed that my assumptions were right, after filling in my paperwork and she immediately told me that my room was on the second floor my assumptions came crashing to my feet. I explained that I would prefer this be done ASAP and she explained this was ASAP, I explained that my wife and child came with me, she explained they could also sleep in the room. Okay, she wins, looks like I'm here for the night. I explain to her however that my five year old son, locked in a hospital with sick people and many, many machine's might just lead to the death of several of those aforementioned sick people, we decide that I will stay in the hotel across the street and return for my appointment in the morning, now if I'll just wait to speak with the doctor we can arrange for a pain management program for the evening. He'll just be a moment.
It seems the doctor was actually in surgery, and a hour later he was back in emergency. There where three patients in emergency at this time, none of us critical. The doctor arrives and sits in the office doing paperwork for about 30 minutes. He then rises and meets with another patient for about 4 minutes, returns to the office and does paperwork for 40 minutes. Again, he rises, meets with the other patient, 5 minutes later he's back to paperwork for another 40 minutes. finally I am moved to a waiting room, he visits, tells me my tooth is real bad, see the nurse for some pills and I have 5 minutes to meet my wife at the Northmart before the store closes. I really hope the doctor was de-stressing after the surgery or playing video games or something, if not I find the concept of his having to do over 30 minutes of paperwork per consultation to be a extreme waste of valuable time.
As I rush from the hospital a orderly tells me my wife is getting a cab to the hospital, now Inuvik is not a large town and I'm already half way to the door so I rush to the car and get to Northmart about 4 minutes later, I rush in the western doors just in time to see a cab leaving from the eastern doors, Double Damn. I follow the cab and meet my family at the emergency entrance to the hospital. I explain that we're spending the night and have to get a room across the street. Now we've been around the north a bit and the cost of hotels up here can really make a person shudder all the way to their wallet. I explain to the clerk that I need a room for two adults and a child, she explains to me that they have no rooms left other than single bed rooms, they have also misplaced their roll-away beds and can't find them, they've been looking for a week. I ponder to myself as she offers me a brief glimmer of hope, "we do have a executive suite available with a separate bedroom and a fold out couch", I reluctantly ask the question that sends fear into my heart. "How Much?", and I couldn't get my wallet out fast enough when she told me the room was $129.00 taxes in. We have a lovely room with 2 TV, 2 fireplaces,a full kitchen and all the related accoutrement. A very nice evening ensued from this point.
Seven in the morning arrives like a unwanted guest and without much sleep, I shower and trudge over to the hospital for my 8:30 appointment. I arrive around 8:05 and the nurse asks me how I slept and how my tooth is before asking me to take a seat. She makes a couple of calls does some paperwork and we make eye contact again and she asks me why I'm not at the dental clinic across town... "Umm, should I be?" I query. "Yes" is her reply as I grab my coat and dart for the phone. 8:28 and I'm waiting at the dental clinic across town.
Now, I'll spare you the gruesome details of the actual procedure other than when the tooth was removed a severe infection was found under the tooth and "we had to cut back the gums and scoop out quite a bit of dead tissue". She hands me a script for pain med and I'm rushing back to the hotel to get to work. I forgot to ask about antibiotics and she forgot to prescribe. Eleven o'clock and I'm rushing back to Tsiigehtchic with strong hopes that the road hasn't deteriorated too much in the last 24 hours. It had and we got bogged down about a mile from home. I had packed my parka and Melissa hadn't so I set off walking back to town to arrange someone to pull us out, I'm dizzy, sick to my stomach, in pain and swallowing enough blood to make a vampire gag but there I am walking through the slushy, crappy remains of our ice road. About half a mile from town someone drives past and I explain to them the situation and they immediately take off to rescue my truck, leaving me standing in a puddle in the middle of the road, wet to my knee's watching him drive off. My mind struggles to grasp the basic facts of this situation as I start off back to town, frequently looking over my shoulder as if he is going to realize he could take me with him at any moment. Just as I crest the large hill into town, and 100 feet from my house my wife drives up behind me honking the horn and almost making me slip back down the hill in the sudden fright. I opened the store and so ends my story.
Friday, May 09, 2008