May 22, 2013

Won't Be Smiling for You Now

I haven't been able to afford to go to a dentist for 20 years. In the last two decades, the five or six fillings I'd gotten in earlier, flusher times have all fallen out. Periodically, I'd experience pain in varying degrees as teeth decayed. And many of my teeth on the sides of my mouth have fallen out, in part or almost in whole. My mouth is a hideous disaster area.

But unless I'd told you all that, you probably wouldn't know it if you'd met me. The teeth in the front of my mouth were okay, or at least they sort of looked okay (except for the fact that a dentist obviously hasn't cleaned them since Gutenberg died). So I could smile, and the world seemed all right.

Last week, what I think is my upper left lateral incisor came out as I was eating. I was eating something soft, so the tooth must have been rotted all the way through. I didn't even know it had come out until I realized I was chewing something that seemed surprisingly hard. For a couple of days, I couldn't look at my mouth in the mirror. It seemed as if another dreaded barrier had fallen: my deterioration was entering its final stages. When I finally gazed upon my pitiful reflection, there it was: a gaping hole next to the two front teeth. If I grin a certain way, I look like the leering maniac of every cheap thriller you've ever seen.

So I can now enjoy another humiliation of being poor. As these things go, it's a comparatively minor one -- except for the fact that it's our face by which the world first knows us in person. Well, I can smile without parting my lips. The fact that I can't get medical care for a heart that's now so weak that it will probably kill me within a few years (or sooner) isn't humiliating in the same way, since there are no visible signs of the problem much of the time (provided I'm not trying to move when I'm with you; if I start walking, I need to stop every five or ten steps to rest). No, the failing heart isn't humiliating, but enraging -- but getting very angry isn't good for me, and anyway what the hell's the point? Humiliation and helpless, suppressed rage: my recipe for failed living! And not just my recipe: it's a meal enjoyed by more and more Americans. But nothing is forever, including life, and a damned good thing.

Anyway, I'm not asking for money for my teeth or for my heart. To get decent care for either would cost many thousands of dollars; for the heart problems, tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars (I assume I would get an operation of some kind if I had the money and/or the Cheney insurance plan). Never gonna happen. But I realized this morning that I have only a little more than half of what I need for next month's rent, and I'll need to send it off about a week from now. I have a few other bills that need to be paid and, at the moment, I don't have any money to buy groceries. Don't need teeth when I don't have food to eat! hahaha Not actually very funny. Oh, well.

So if you could spare a few dollars and make a donation, that would be wonderful. I'm enormously grateful. If we meet sometime, I'll try to smile, but I won't open my mouth. You'll know why.

As always, many, many thanks for your time and consideration.