Unnecessary pain and other matters of life
February 18, 2012
"What's the difference between on old penny and a new quarter?" was the question on last Wednesday's Joplin Globe "Newspaper in Education" page. The fact that I got the answer to the question wrong, besides being a tad embarrassing to myself, demonstrates to me how I think. What past teacher or experience can I blame for my inability to see things in black and white?

The problem with seeing all points of view is that some times decisions hang in the air or are made incorrectly in desperation. Of course, it can be said that some people don't make them at all. Apparently, they don't want to be proven wrong.

The warm weather of the past week was a big catalyst in my decision to step away from the computer. I chose to rake leaves. FYI, my yard is a magnet for gathering all the leaves in my neighborhood. That wouldn't be as much a problem if the leaves mulched well. They are mostly oak leaves that hang around seemingly forever. I got a dramatically small area raked in three and a half hours before quitting when the sun disappeared behind some clouds.

Today I am back at the computer...in pain. I had a friend who also didn't understand why it took three days for the pain from exercise to set in. I've rationalized that general pain may be a good thing to take my mind off of other specific pain that I've been enduring.

I can't decide whether to diagnose the pain in my left arm as tennis elbow but assume that a doc would be in the same quandary without prescribing a CAT scan or some other awful affront to my hopefully still non-cancerous well being.

What I should have known before falling to create the arm pain was that taking a drug that says "may cause dizziness" means get as low to a hard surface as possible. Don't consider taking a glass of O.J. standing up on it as an antidote.

The prescription for the pain killer in question was given to me by a Joplin dentist. I made the mistake of choosing him from his ad in the phone book that says he sees emergency patients. I couldn't gather what he did as a dentist other than take, in my case, unnecessary x-rays, because he referred me to a specialist who charged me big bucks to tell me I didn't need a root canal based on more attempted x-rays and cold tests he administered after his hygienist had already completed the same tests.

Okay, so I had to phone back this first dentist to ask what his diagnosis was. He wanted to pass the buck to another specialist, this time a dentist in Kansas City, he told me, who specializes in the treatment of TMJ. What? I knew I didn't have any pain in the hinges of my jaw. The pain was emanating from a tooth. By the way, I noticed that he has a new name for his practice and a flashing neon sign in front that says--this is funny--that he now "specializes in the treatment of TMJ."

Okay, so what I am saying is be sure to have a regular dentist...or doctor, for that matter, whom you trust and who knows you and/or your family members. I didn't have the luxury of this.

And the next dentist I chose --yes, I didn't stop making bad choices--screwed me over again after he took more x-rays but before he told me that he no longer did crown work. He wanted to send me to the same specialist that the first dentist sent me to...at that point while I was thinking "kickback time," I should have been thinking, "don't pay this man."

Time, of course, marched on, until one morning I woke up with absolutely horrendous pain. I decided to pay a visit to the ER and chose Freeman's because of that little card Freeman gives its patients to allegedly speed them through the admissions process. Not. Several folks, including one woman holding a bandaged hand with blood dripping down her arm, and I were queued up in front of a sole lady in the ER who was taking her time admitting a non-wincing but pregnant young girl. We all wondered what she was doing in the ER anyway...actually both of them.

Having the least patience of everybody, I decided to leave. It was my opportunity to visit St. John's and see how they were operating post-tornado. And that was NOT a mistake, especially after a very competent ER physician's assistant diagnosed an abscessed tooth and immediately started an IV with a strong antibiotic.

I am now toothless. I found a fourth dentist who removed the culprit. The verdict is still out on him. Will keep you posted.

While recuperating, I had an opportunity to read Jodi Kantor's book, The Obamas. LOL, in this hotbed of ultra right conservatism, I had no competition reserving it, or renewing it from the Joplin Public Library. I actually was quite impressed that the title had been ordered without a patron having suggested it.

I had been a bit concerned over reports that Kantor had used third party sources for the material in her book, a tactic one would think should be avoided, especially by a New York Times correspondent. But I have concluded that Kantor's reporting is unbiased and a worthwhile read for a person of any political persuasion. It details the trials and tribulations of being President and how isolation and disorientation effects his entire family. It puts into perspective the events that take place during his administration and the protective role of her husband that Michelle Obama has played, an aggressive portrait of her that brought Michelle to the talk shows to dispel. The book will be back at the library by February 25 for anyone interested.

I hope to make this column, "Musings with Mari" a weekly event. It seems to be the appropriate forum for saying what's on my mind even if after having written it, I do feel a bit exposed.

Hey, but blogging is the thing, baby. I want to be able to say, "Don't mess with Mari" and believe it.

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