Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dental Hygienists --- I cannot take them anymore


Pretty much everyone has something that is suboptimal with the biochemistry of their bodies.  It could be something terrible, like lung cancer.   Or it could be something ordinary, but serious and treatable, like diabetes.   Or it could be something really mundane and not very important at all.

Having a body that produces too much dental plaque means you have to go see a dental hygienist three times a year, instead of twice a year. That is my particular issue --  in the mundane category.  Or maybe, the "extremely lucky" category, because there are so many other possibilities -- cancer, heart disease, drug resistant syphilis, tuberculosis, malaria, etc. -- that are so much worse.

When I visit the dentist for my tri-annual teeth cleaning, I get one of two reactions from the dental hygienist:

Reaction One:  A complete dressing down and scolding!  


Hygienist: You need to brush your teeth ever morning and every evening.
Me:  I DO!

Hygienist: Well... you are NOT doing a very good job of it.  You should use an electric toothbrush.
Me:  I DO!

Hygienist:  You need to spend six seconds with the electric toothbrush on each tooth.
Me:  I spend ten seconds on each tooth!

Hygienist:  Well... you need to change the brush head every three months.
Me:  I change it every month!

Hygienist:  You need to floss every time you brush!
Me:  I do!

Hygienist:  You need to floss up and down three times between each set of teeth.
Me:  I go up and down six times!

Hygienist:  You need to use a better floss then.
Me:  I use Butler Weave Dental Floss that was recommended to me years ago, when I was first diagnosed with excessive plaque.

Hygienist:  I do not believe anything you say!
Me:  Could you just accept the fact that my body produces excessive dental plaque?

Hygienist:  Humpff (and walks away muttering under her breath).

Reaction Two:  Hygienist talks to me like I am a hospice patient. 


Hygienist:  The amount of plaque you have is quite dreadful!  You were here just four months ago.
Me:  I know!  Believe me, I have excellent dental hygiene practices; my body just produces a lot of plaque.

Hygienist:  This is so dreadful; I don't know how you will be able to cope.
Me:  I think I am doing okay.

Hygienist:  I am so sorry that you are having to live your life this way.
Me:  Well it is better than having Ebola, I guess.

Hygienist:  I cannot imagine anything more tragic.
Me:  I think you need to work on your imaginative capabilities, in that case.


My Dream:  Find a dental hygienist who does her job and says "Good Day" when she begins, and "Good Bye Now" when she finishes, and nothing more.







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Playing World of Warcraft on a Treadmill

I had a pretty simple workout routine.  The treadmill in my bedroom faces the television.  I put on stereo headphones and watch a  pre-recorded television program.  While I am watching television, the treadmill makes me run up and down simulated hills for half an hour at the equivalent pace of a 15 minute mile.  About the time the television program is over, my workout is over.  I did not notice I was working out.   I lost a lot of weight doing this every day this past year.

Then three weeks ago, the treadmill broke.  This was not expected.  I was thrown off my schedule.  I had to get things organized to have the old one removed, and now I am working on getting a new one installed.  In the meantime, I've been using the treadmill at a health club.

I hate going to the health club.  It requires getting dressed, driving eight miles round trip, and walking through a room with lots of beautiful people.  Then, I arrive in the humongous industrial factory where I am faced with row after row after row of treadmills and elliptical machines (most occupied with a beautiful person).  It always seems that  the people next to me are running four minute miles up hills. (That's right, almost four times faster than me.) It is intimidating.  I can overcome the intimidation, but then, in front of me is a tiny television with a football game on it, or worse yet, Fox News.  There's no sound.  There are no headphones.  It is extremely dull.

Today I thought of a solution.  I like World of Warcraft, but I rarely play it because I don't have time, and I already spend too much of my life in front of a computer (like right now, for example).  But, what if World of Warcraft were physical?  In other words, if your character is fighting a wizard for example, maybe you have to do certain physical boxing moves on the treadmill with your arms.  Maybe someone is chasing you over hills, so you have to run as fast as you can over hills for a couple of minutes.  It could be a very entertaining distraction, and after 30 minutes, your workout would be done.  Perhaps you would even be motivated to extend the workout based on the narrative in the World of Warcraft story.


Friday, November 18, 2011

the one breasted woman

Last week I was in the ladies locker room getting ready to take a shower, and looked up to see a woman in her sixties, across the room from me.  I had a full frontal view of the lady, and a  feeling that something was askew with the picture.  The lady was putting her clothes back on after her shower and I realized that she had one tight and buff looking horizontal, flat muscle next to one large and sagging breast. 

It took me a while to figure out that the tight, buff, horizontal flat muscle was the aftermath of a mastectomy.  She had a breast removed!

My first thought was how trim, fit, and buff the horizontal part looked -- the side without the breast.  It actually looked much better than the large and sagging breast on the other side.  My second thought was how completely comfortable she appeared to be.  She was not trying to hide her frontal view at all.  She was obviously very accepting of her body in its current configuration.

Prior to seeing this lady at the health club, I had always thought that should I face the prospect of a mastectomy, I would take a pass, get my affairs in order, and check into some hospice program and prepare to die from cancer.  I believed that death would be preferable to having certain body parts lopped off.

In fact, I am going to go out on a limb and take a big risk here and flatly admit that I do not like all the talk about breast cancer.  I wish people would just shut up about it.  I do not like hearing about "One in Nine", "Susan G. Komen", the pink ribbons, and the "Race for the Cure".  In fact, breast cancer is not the number one cause of death from cancer, although it seems to be advertised as if it were number one.   According to the World Health Organization, (February 2006), the lineup looks like this:

lung cancer (1.3 million deaths)
stomach cancer (803,000 deaths)
colorectal cancer (639,000 deaths)
liver cancer (610,000 deaths)
breast cancer (519,000 deaths)

So why does it seem like breast cancer is marketed and promoted much more extensively than other types of cancers?  Don't we want to find a solution for all forms of cancer and not just breast cancer?  I don't see the men running around with all types of marketing programs to raise awareness and funds to address prostate cancer.   What is going on here?  Are the women just better at marketing?

Having seen this lady at the health club, I now have a new view.  If I became one of the extremely unlucky "one woman in nine" who is diagnosed with breast cancer, and if the oncologists recommended a mastectomy, I think I would go for it.  I think life without a breast or both breasts  would not be the end of the world as I know it.  Yet, I would not have decided this without seeing the lady across from me in the ladies locker room.