Pop Quiz No. 1:
Q: Two weeks ago, I went to the dentist to get a filling repaired. How did I break a filling?
A: Because I chomped ice cubes for like two months straight before my labs showed my anemia was so bad I was .5 ice cubes away from the blinkin’ emergency room.
You remember, don’t you, how I narrowly-avoided an ER trip — it has been known to happen — but got my iron infusions and avoided that at the eleventh hour? That was great. Less great is that my dentist, Dr. Tahbaz, confirmed that my ice-eating was probably the main culprit for my busted filling.
Pop Quiz No. 2:
Q: My dentist visit cost $250. Guess how much my iron infusions cost?
A: $3,600. After insurance.
I’m not sure what my face did when I opened that bill from Northwestern. Did it twist? Or was it flat? Did it buzz and fizz or was it numb? I don’t know because I kinda blanked out. I regained consciousness somewhere in the next few minutes, though, because I remember that I started laughing. Not because I was happy, or because anything was funny. No, I started laughing because I somehow kept opening mail and it somehow kept being bills for astronomical amounts: hospital treatments, tuition for grad school, condo payments. And I pay my own taxes, so I have to put money aside for that every quarter, which means that the money in my accounts isn’t really mine. I kept laughing to keep from crying or hitting things.
Life, man. A girl could just gnash her teeth all day over it all.
Except that she can’t. Because guess what else the dentist told her?
“You need to get a mouth guard. You’re grinding your teeth at night. A lot. Get a mouth guard. Today.”
It’s not earth-shattering news that I grind my teeth. I vaguely remember other dentists mentioning this to me. But either they were never really that concerned about it or I wasn’t listening, because no one ever did anything about my bruxism. Did you know that teeth-grinding has a name? It’s a real affliction/condition and it’s called bruxism.
Pop Quiz No. 3:
Q: If you’re a teeth-grinder (tooth-grinder?) and an annoying person at a cocktail party asks you about your theological, ideological, or political beliefs, how do you answer like a boss?
A: “I’m a Bruxist. Oh, look at the time.”
What I’m trying to get at is that I had to buy a mouthguard. The good news is that it was $25, not $250 or $3,600; the bad news is that I have a mouthguard I’m supposed to wear at night so I don’t grind my teeth against themselves but against a piece of inert plastic, instead. The news is bad because a) it’s sad I need protection against myself via the nocturnal manifestation of anxiety and existential angst, and because 2) mouthguards do not inspire a feeling of attractiveness, exactly. Mouthguards are practical, but they are not sexy.
But I like my teeth. Healthy teeth are sexy. So fine: I’ll wear my charming! clear! dainty! mouthguard when I’m sleeping alone. But should I have company, well, that thing is getting stuffed into the medicine cabinet before you can say “iron supplement.”