This article was originally published in the Sauk Rapids Herald.
An Impatient Patient
By Mercy Nygaard // Life by Faith
This is one of the oddest sentences I have ever composed, but here it is: I was so happy to have been going to the dentist recently.
For a few years, I have been unable to convince local dentists to take me in as a patient. It’s not their fault. One of the drawbacks to being self-employed has been health insurance just before, during and after the Affordable Care Act. Once we were finally able to find a plan that our large family could afford, dentists around these parts cannot take any more patients with our carrier. There are people on the waiting list, so if you are thinking of opening a dentist practice, now is the time.
It wasn’t that the practices were at their limit that frustrated me, it was the lack of empathy the practice owners’ displayed. My back tooth had been hurting for so long; I found myself pleading with the receptionists, “Please, just let me come in for an X-ray. I will pay cash.” No after no, I began to lose heart. I prayed many times and began to think that my tooth was the thorn in my flesh that Paul suffered from in 2 Corinthians 12.
Until one day, a friend referred me to a dentist in St. Joe. I called, not optimistically, assuming it would be another no. To my surprise, the receptionist scheduled me in. The day of my appointment, I was so excited that I practically treated the day as a holiday. They called my name and led me back to a standard dentist chair for X-rays. The assistants were very kind. The office had a homey feel to it. I could tell something was different about this practice than anywhere I had been before.
It was time to meet the dentist. “My name is Dr. Contardo,” he said kindly and professionally, while sipping out of his coffee mug. He made conversation as natural as talking to an old friend. He asked questions that held a lot more meaning than just, “How did you hear about us?” He asked if I enjoyed what I did for a living and how many kids I had and where my mother grew up. I saw wisdom in his kind eyes.
With laser dentistry, a laser is used instead of a drill. I am usually tense and loathe having work done on my teeth, however, with the laser you do not hear the dreadful noise of a drill. It’s more of a zap-zap. Dr. Contardo hummed while zapping, and I didn’t feel any pain. In fact the tear that slowly crept out of the corner of my eye was from sheer joy that my tooth was getting fixed after years of being turned away. I didn’t feel a thing.
I’d like to tell you that a miracle happened that day where I didn’t need to go to the dentist ever again, but in just two weeks after my visit, I was flossing a different tooth and a chunk fell off. I called Contardo’s office and they scheduled me within two days. Dr. Contardo looked at my tooth and my X-rays and saw that a composite filling from a past dentist had fallen off. Instead of scheduling me out, he fixed it right then and there.
I think a miracle did happen that day. It sure felt like it after years of looking. I found a dentist that was compassionate enough to take me in and has treated me better than I deserve. It’s hard to find someone that treats you like a person and not just a number. And I’ll take a zap over a drill if I’m blessed to continue to have the opportunity to do so.