dental drama!

My tale starts a bit more than a year ago when I broke a molar, that had recently had a root canal, then continues into last June when I was getting prepped for a crown, another dental experience I’d rather forget.

OK, wait So it’s all becoming a blur, but I ended up needing a root canal, my Dentist, well my Dentist at the time, he is no longer my Dentist doesn’t do root canals but calls in someone else.  No problem, this other person comes to his office and the work is done there, well if we want to call it work.

Over 2 hours with mouth jacked open him fumbling around, blah, blah, blah, long story, lots of discomfort – read pain, and I am trying to block it all from my memory.   Well after the root canal I must wait a bit then go in for the crown, another REALLY bad experience that makes my stomach go all squishy when I think about it.  Then I break the tooth that had the root canal and my dentist wasn’t available. Add to that, later when I told my Dentist I was having discomfort in the tooth that had the root canal he told me I couldn’t be having any discomfort because I’d had a root canal, EXCUSE ME?!  Well that was pretty much what ended our 5 year relationship.


OK, so I’ve got a new Dentist, dr Ernesto, who I am liking pretty much. He has done a few cleanings, and when I started having some serious discomfort in the offending molar he took an xray of same offending molar in which he identified a small pocket at the bottom of one of the roots that is infected. Mr Specialist Root Canal guy blew it!  Thank You so very frickin much!

Anyway, dr Ernesto indicates that to fix this will require an oral surgeon as they will have to go in from the side, blah, blah, blah, or another root canal – I can’t even think about it, my hand is starting to shake and I can’t keep correcting my typing mistakes or I’ll give up on this and go read a book.

So, I have this ground down nub of a molar that has had a root canal but is now infected, I have to do the antibiotics to get the infection down.  dr Ernesto has indicated to me that he has spoken with new specialist dentist’s office and that they understand what’s going on, especially helpful since my spanish isn’t really good enough to go through a big long explanation.  And I do feel better knowing that new mr specialist dentist knows my history.

So I get to mr specialist dentist’s office today, well actually yesterday, which is really quite lovely, and big, with lots of people in pastel shades of medical garb, all smiling and happy, and lots of little cubicles (6 or 8 I believe) where dental work gets done. And the dental chairs face a bank of glass behind which is this awesome aviary, I’m gonna like this – I now have aviary envy.  I start by trying to explain my spanish isn’t so good, he says his english isn’t so good, we have a laugh, ha, ha, ha!, then I tell him how afraid and nervous I am about dental work, he says him too!, we have another laugh, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!  This is where the laughing ends.

We go and do a full surround xray, when we get back to the cubicle and I am asking him about his conversation with dr Ernesto he gives me this look!  He doesn’t know who I am talking about, or anything about me.  So now first thing I start to wonder is am I in the right place, I called and made the appointment myself, did I call the right place?  So I try to explain some more, I pull out the trusty iPad and pull up some emails between dr Ernesto and me, still doesn’t know dr Ernesto or me. GREAT!  So he starts to talk fast, and I can see he’s not happy, and he’s talking fast, and I can’t understand, and I see that bad things are about to happen so I ask if we can call dr Ernesto.  So I call dr Ernesto, on my cellphone, thank you very much, I explain to Dr Ernesto the situation and he asks to talk to  mr specialist dentist, they go on and on, and start talking about where his office is, what his hours are, yada, yada, yada…

Then my cell dies because it is out of pesos!  So then mr specialist dentist starts in at me, and I am trying to explain that my spanish isn’t good enough to either understand or explain everything, and he says, I think, that what has happened before doesn’t matter because he will make the determination based on the xray and his experience, blah, blah, blah, and now I am starting to get scared, and he’s yelling, well talking quite loudly, more people start coming in to the cubicle, I say I have to leave, he says I owe him for the appt, I start to tear up, he’s getting louder, and saying something to the effect that he can’t treat me if I have no confidence in him, yada, yada, yada. He does this mexican hand wipe thing that means something is Done, Finished, Over!

I have a stronger fight than flight instinct, and I am really pushing down on the fight response because that doesn’t always prove productive, satisfying yes, productive no,  so my flight instinct is telling me get the hell out of here.

I’m still trying to apologize because my spanish can’t handle the situation, and he’s just glaring at me, so now I am mad, afraid, scared, upset, and REALLY need to get out of there, so I turn and start walking out, and just kept walking…

I went directly to dr Ernesto’s office, just a few blocks away – I am trying to explain what just happened – how could he, mr specialist dentist, not know about me or what’s going on since he, dr Ernesto, had called him.  Well, seems dr Ernesto had relayed my info to the receptionist.  ummmm, the receptionist?

yeah, well, I think I may be looking for another dentist, for sure I am looking for an oral surgeon!  That or I could just get this damn tooth removed and be done with it!

So here I am, up at 4am writing a blog because all I can think about is the drama, what did I do wrong, what could I have done!  Well, in 6 years here I damn sure should have better Spanish than I do and that really would have diffused the situation.  I mean, if we could have communicated effectively I don’t think any of this would have escalated to the state it did!

So for those of you thinking you can live here without learning Spanish, well, good luck with that.  It isn’t working out so well for me!

About Debi in Merida

I moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA to Merida, Yucatan, MX in January 2006. I love to read, garden, travel, and hang out with friends.
This entry was posted in dental work, rants. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to dental drama!

  1. Barb says:

    I'll second the Ativan. I haven't used it but one my daughters did. She said it made her 2 hour root canal completely bearable. But you'll most definitely need someone to drive you home. DD was stoned for about 4 hours after. It was pretty funny…lol.

  2. Oh – I am LOVING this advice, Ativan, ummmm, sounds fabulous.

  3. Thanks so much – it will work out, in its own time!

  4. Thanks Kevin – I need a few days to collect myself – then I can look in to this again.

  5. His reaction really did shock me – and I am with you on that girl – I really need to get back to practicing my Spanish!

  6. Thanks Leslie, I'm not in any pain, but It's been a year and I just need to get it done! Oh, I know there are good dentists here, I just need a good referral.

  7. Thanks Rainie – why I thought I could conduct an intelligent conversation in Spanish I'll never know. Heck I'm not sure my conversations in English are intelligent!

  8. Thanks L – I got your email with the contact info – it will take a few days for me to calm down before I can take up this project again!

  9. I'm sorry you had to go through this Debi. I'm sorry, but even a language barrier is no excuse for such petulance from a dentist such as this guy. I've had two root canals in the past year or so. One by a woman who I felt was water-boarding me – sore mouth for days. The next by a skilled and gentle endodontist. No discomfort during or after. It really only boils down to experience and skill.

    One recommendation would be to have your dentist prescribe 1mg of lorazepam (Ativan) to be taken an hour before the procedure. You will most likely sleep through the entire procedure and will not remember much of the experience. You WILL need someone to drive you home. Valium doesn't work. It has to be Ativan. I'm assuming this is available in Mexico, though probably with a different name.
    This type of sedation is called 'conscious sedation'. You can hear and respond to questions, but will drift right back into a sedated state. Wonderful for traumatic dental procedures. Your friendly pharmacist, John

  10. I am so sorry this happened. So unnerving and disorienting. Wow, and your tooth still isn't fixed! Hope that gets taken care of soon. Thinking of you and wishing you a complete, efficient, and very KIND resolution to all of this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Oh Debi … You're too good of a person to have this happen to (not that I would wish it on my worst enemy). I have been extremely lucky with dental issues … e.g. I don't have them. Every dentist I go to always asks, “Where did you grow up?” I explain to them that I grew up in a small rural mountain town in Montana and no, they didn't put flouride in the water system. There was no water system. I have never had a cavity and have all my teeth except my molars (the Peace Corps required that I get them removed before serving). So, here's my two cents worth. Whenever I fly into Houston and wait for my flight to Merida, I cannot tell you the number of people I meet who are coming to Merida for “Medical Tourism” issues. I met this man a year ago who had horrible dental issues. He could barely speak and, I'm not dentist, but what little I could see was terrible. I bumped into him a few days before he left and he was a walking advertisement for his oral surgeon. He couldn't say enough nice things about his experience. I may still have his information but it'll take me a while to locate it. The other suggestion is to do a google search for “medical tourism” in Merida and see what you find. Good luck. Kevin D.

  12. Anonymous says:

    OMG! Que horrible amiga! It really is bad enough having a painful tooth and a previous screw-up but to have a professional person act like a petulant child, Wowzer
    You know I will get on my soap box now since you have such a huge following and say please, to all of your readers, learn Spanish. A little is better than nothing but in cases like these, it is so important to be understood and to understand what is being said. After 30 years of interest and 5 years of classes I still have a lot to learn but I feel I can hold my ground most of the time. At the least everyone who lives in Mexico needs to be able to say their address, phone and know how to call a taxi.
    Love you Debi and hope you get some relief soon.
    Nancy W

  13. Leslie Limon says:

    Oh no!!! How awful! Dental work is bad enough, but add all of that drama to it? Oh, you poor thing! If only you fly up to my pueblito. I have 2 great dentists that are drama free.

    Hope you are able to get some relief and find a nice dentist that actually knows what he's doing.

  14. I'm so sorry this happened to you. With my poor Spanish skills, I live in terror of something like this happening. I'm okay in fun relaxed situations but put a little fear in the mix and I loose total recall of anything Spanish. After reading about your terrible experience, I vow to take classes again. I hope the worst is over for you and your dentes and that everything will be looking up.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wow Deb..sounded awful. I can imagine with the fear of the dental work itself and then the mad scientist dentist behavior only compounded the issue. Richard had oral surgery done at Star Medica…he really liked him. We can call with the info if you want it.


  16. Thanks, That is indeed the problem. With my crap Spanish I am able to handle SO many situations, and I really thought that by having dentist1 talk to dentist2, most of the tough stuff was handled! And if I were clear headed I could have phoned a friend to come to my aid, but, clarity of thought was not to be found.
    This to shall pass, I just needed to vent – Thanks for listening/reading, and replying!

  17. Calypso says:

    Ouch – so sorry amiga Not a fun story. You are right there are times when a second language is simply that and help is needed.

    I find that when getting official stuff like our visas and can only imagine how much more unnerving a dental issue might be (I HATE dental issues btw).

    I know I am little help here rather than feeling for you and hoping perhaps you can get someone to go with you to get the scoop and you message across.

    Hang in there.

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