Friday, April 27, 2018

Our Mexican Dental Experience: A Review-ish

13 months ago we were on a family vacation when my husband bit into something with nuts and half of his front tooth broke off.

Since I met him, he's been somewhat prone to having infections in his mouth. They seem to come on quickly and have resulted in a lot of dental work. 

We have a poor history with route canals and every time a dentist suggests them, I want another option. Though dentists often poo-poo my doubts, about 6 years ago, he went to the dentist with a massive infection and blood pressure through the roof. The dentist herself rushed him to the hospital, and he lost SIX teeth that he had spent so much money getting route canals and crowns. Basically, all of the route canals he'd paid for were worthless? So we spent years paying off that bill and we tend to hesitate before making decisions, just trying to get him frequent appointments. While that experience was horrifying in itself, I often think of how I could have lost him. We have both grown afraid of dental work when it comes to him.

We had been told the front tooth needed a route canal, but again, would that just end in another removal? We took that half tooth to a local dentist, and got a suggested $3000 bill. So we waited, because--who knows? Would we pay that just to lose the tooth again? The other front tooth is a crown, the result of a route canal, and already having some issues--it was fairly chipped and we worried about it.

So we waited too long, and two months later that tooth was fully gone. The local dentist now said an implant would be doable at something like $5000 and an 8 month set of procedures. After that appointment, I talked hubby into going to Mexico.

We went to the dentist that is literally the closest to the Nogales border (Laser Dental). It had decent reviews, and is four doors down from the point where you enter Mexico. He was very worried about it. The first time down, he left all his paperwork in the car on the other side of the border and I had to go get it. Then he started getting used to crossing.

We are about an 80 minute drive from the Mexico border. This was probably the worst of the experience. He got really used to doing that drive. We never had time in between appointments to get a passport, so we went over with a birth certificate. This slows down the process, but it is still do-able.

I will stop with the narratives and give a bullet-point list of the experience.

1. The first pro is that the dentist office is convenient and very similar to a US office. The dentists, we found, are not great English speakers, but everyone else is. Some of the employees were born in Phoenix, and choose to work down in Mexico. My husband, however, did hate that every piece of information had to be passed from the dentist to the dental assistant to him, and sometimes having 3-4 people standing over him in a procedure speaking a language he didn't know well enough to understand while their hands were in his mouth was a little scary.

2. Appointments were slow to get and they ran late a lot. That could happen anywhere but feels important to mention.

3. The first implant didn't "take." They discovered the tooth next to it had an infection. So we had to start the process over. I don't know why they proceeded to do the implant even though the infection was likely apparent. They "risked" it, and that was a bad idea. After the infection next to that tooth was dealt with, the second implant took beautifully.

4. They were hesitant to give him antibiotics, and a few appointments resulted in him going down to get something done, discovering that there was too much swelling or a mild infection, and sending him home with NO WORK. It was devastating. We ended up buying antibiotics, since you can get them for just about nothing at the pharmacy next door, and taking a round for every appointment. It seems like this greatly improved our experience.

5. There is a no-frills atmosphere. No one was in a rush, no "extra precautions" and sometimes Tye worried about whether the lack of those precautions was dangerous. However, we did not have any problems, and generally the work was really great. He ended up with TWO surprise crowns in the front, and they are beautiful, and fit better than any crown he's had.

6. Our dental insurance covered this EXACTLY the way they would have covered a US procedure. Mostly at about 50%, some at 80%, and the implant at 0%. Everything was "pay upfront/get reimbursed" so we had to wait, but we were able to pay off much of it. The cost was about a third of what we would have paid here, or less.  In terms of cost, there is no way to overstate that it was actually--almost affordable. I wish I had thought to not put part of it on a Wells Fargo credit card, because they charge that horrible "foreign transaction fee" which was pretty high, but otherwise, it was the best possible financial decision we could have made.

7. The results are beautiful.  They not only finished the implant but fixed the crown next to it so the teeth look beautifully matched. I am very impressed, and impressed with all work they did as a final result.  Two weeks have gone by and he still looks amazing.

8. The whole process took about 7 months, but that includes the fact that the first implant did not take. They also insured their work for years, but require he returns every 6 months for a check-in (which is highly unlikely for us).

Ps-I had read online many stories of "I stayed overnight, and they did the implants in a weekend!" (Not only did the dentist tell us that it was a minimum of 3 months to heal before they could complete the implant, but even the wait time for the molds to be completed was a week, so that is not in any way accurate in our experience).

Biggest Pros: Cost, Work Quality
Biggest Cons: Incredibly Slow Timing, Lack of Preventative Choices/Antibiotics, Hard to get Appointment Times

There ya go.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

John 4

This is just my favorite.  I have tried to examine what it says about me, that it's my favorite, but ultimately given up.  Today my head is filled with the woes of the world, a reminder of how truly horrible we are, and ultimately, how totally confused.

So God is in walking around in the body of a Jewish man, and he stops, in the middle of the day, in a town that's not Jewish, to get water at a well.  There's a woman there, filling up water for her house. I know it's unusual for her to be there at midday.  Most of the women went in the morning, when it was cool and before doing household chores for the day. She probably didn't want to see those catty old judgmental jerks doing their gossipping at the well.  So she waited until lunchtime. She sees this Jewish dude there and she does not want to talk to him, because why would she?  Out of the blue he says, "hey, would you mind getting me a drink?" She looks around herself just to check if there's a Jewish person, but there's not.

This reminds me of a lot of things that happen in our own culture.  There are people who just try to avoid each other.  They don't talk because someone thinks they're somehow better than the other, and the other just shrugs their shoulders and stops trying. Or maybe they get angry, go on a few marches, hope things get better.

"Are you asking me?  You know I'm Samaritan, right?"

But he says, and this is crazy. . . "If you knew who I was, you would be the one asking for a drink.  And the water I would give you would be living water." And since He was God, I bet those words made her tingle all the way down to her feet.  Water is living, right?  It's filled with organisms, it's . . . what keeps us alive.  We're part amphibian, born in water, not needing our lungs until we're pushed out.  I mean, it is living.  But part of her knows this is so different.

"Sir," she says, because maybe he's insane, "You don't even have a cup.  Plus, are you saying to me that you are somehow better than the great Jacob, the fighter, leader of armies, favored by God, whose land this is?  The Jewish hero? This is his well, and I doubt your water could compare with his."

"If you drink this water, you'll get thirsty again. But my water is special. You drink it and you're never thirsty again. It becomes inside you, a spring of water, and turns into eternal life."

So this part always surprises me, because why does she know that he's for real and not a weirdo? Maybe she's just so desperate not to come to "gossip town" again, she wishes there were another source for water. She'll take anything.

"Sir, can I have some of that water? I would love to not have to fill up at this well again."

"Sure," he says, "call your husband." (Ouch, we all know why he said that. Low blow.  Maybe He knows she doesn't really believe him, she just wants water.)

"I don't have a husband." (She's so honest!  She could have just lied to this random Jewish guy, but she doesn't. And I think this is why he came to her. She's not a liar.

"You're right. The fact is, you've had five husbands, and the guy you're with now is not your husband.  But thank you for telling me the truth (I know how hard that was for you.)"

"Ok, well I see you're a prophet. So listen, here's my question, the Jewish people say we can't worship God here, and we think this place is ok. . . " (blah blah, she's asking a political question).

"The time will come when it won't matter where you worship anymore.  I'm here to change all that."

And then, it hit her for the first time.  Maybe he's got information about the messiah they talk about all the time. Or maybe she's being polite. It's normal for a Jewish person to say "this will all be better when the messiah comes" maybe she's doing that.  She says:

"Well, I know the messiah's coming, and then things will be clear."

And he looks her in the eye and says, "that's me.  I'm the messiah."

And she has no idea what to think, but this random jewish guy knew all about her, and now her whole life is changed forever.

And ironically, she got that living water without even asking.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Art of Fear

I have a lot to get done this morning, but I'm dragging my feet. I figured I'd write a blog and that would launch me into doing something super-productive. It sounds like a plan.  Sometimes, these days, as I interview for jobs and scramble to finish the doctorate I don't want to do anything.  I'm too overwhelmed and I'd rather just hide in the closet and eat peanut butter out of the jar.

But that's not going to help, so here I go. Finishing a doctoral degree is very different from the bachelor's or master's.  It's similar to moving.  There's a point when you've organized and all the boxes are filled, the house looks, for the most part, empty, and you say to yourself: "you're close." Then you open up a closet door and the whole thing is filled.  "crap," you say to yourself, and then you pack that up and realize that you forgot the last part of the garage, and then the stuff behind the piano, and the further you get you start thinking, "I AM NEVER GOING TO GET THROUGH ALL THIS." You start chucking stuff in the trash, you cry a little, you find a photo of your mom and dad in a drawer and then you take a second to feel emotional and it goes on and on.  But you finish, right?  Faith is the opposite of sight.  You know you will finish, you just can't see it yet.

I've had a few job interviews, so, as a fellow student says, "that means you'll get a job." But I have a list of fears: Will I like the job? Will I like the new home? Will I be able to afford it? Will the job pay like crap? Will my husband find a job? Will the kids have good schools? It goes on, but I won't bore you, because then there wouldn't be anything else in this blog.  Besides, the worst thing is that once you start, it SPIRALS.  You start thinking about whether you'll like the grocery stores or your yard.

Two days ago, my 4 year old asked me on the way to school, "next year, will I be in the classroom with the fish on the door?"
 I told him, "well, probably not sweetheart. We might move to a new house next year, and then you'd be at a new school."
There was a long pause. "What? What house? Where? What kind of school?"
And there it was.  FEAR. It's the most natural instinct. Please, don't make me change, but I'm also afraid of stagnation. I'm afraid I won't be liked, loved, I won't have money, I won't have a home.  Fear is all-encompassing.
24 hours later, we were on the couch together when he said, "I kind of love this house." Out of the blue. And I knew what was going on. That turning, wrenching, fear had stayed with him 24 hours!  This house, where he doesn't have a space to play and he wishes there were a yard. It's the only home he remembers.  He's almost 5 but he's been here 3 years! I just held him and said, "I know. But I promise wherever we go we'll be together."

It's kind of all I can say right now. The move 4 years ago was insane. It was painful, ends were not tied, and the dust of trauma chased us across the country. Now, if we move we are stable.  Hopefully I'll be done finding closets full of "extra stuff" that I have to get done for the doctorate. I'll be trusting God to land us somewhere that people will love me, and I'll make music, and I'll find someone like-minded.  Maybe just one person. And wherever we go, we'll be blessed to be together. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

If You Limbo Like I Do

I find that life, so far, has been a series of trials seeking landing spots.

The trials are happy and sad. Don't get me wrong. I think that first statement makes it seem like there's just a lot of awful but that's not really true.  What it really means is that I have spent a lot more time in limbo than I would like.

I think there are other choices.  Sometimes, when you're in your own life, looking out, you don't see other choices. You don't go "well, Amy's life could have been an option."  Let's be honest, her life was not an option.  This is MY life. And my life is climbing mountains, sitting in limbo, finding a brief landing place, getting bored, and then looking at another mountain.. . salivating a little.

Being an Opera Singer.  That was a mountain.  Jeez.  Got to a point where I was singing, auditioning, crying, singing, auditioning, crying.  Good times. It got lonely. But the singing part was GOOD.  Like--crack good. Still, the auditioning and crying, ouch. So then after a while that mountain turns into limbo.  The state where I need something else. Something less lonely, something that makes me feel purposeful.  Something. Street kids in Peru, little dog in a purse, constant working out.  Something.

Dating. That was a mountain. Lots of dates with men who revealed, after things seemed to be going well, that they were married, but not super married.  Or dates with men who did not see it necessary to believe in anything, or did not see it necessary to call, or be kind, in between dates. Or men who thought I was ok, but they really wanted a red head. 

Adjunct teaching. This is limbo.  This is "work your butt off and make $11k a year limbo." That's eleven. Teaching two classes, 12 students a year, and 11 thousand dollars. Of course, I work 3 other jobs. So we add the MOUNTAIN of the DMA. And that was a mountain.

I'm going insane, because if you limbo like I do, you know that there's a place, somewhere, that you could land. And work one job. Your husband could have a job that wasn't hurting his health, and there could be a real place to invest yourself, to do what you already know you love. To not worry and count pennies.

I am happy here in limbo. I am SO HAPPY. That's almost the worst part.  How can I complain when I have beautiful children, a nice home, albeit a rental, and a loving husband? How can I complain when I drive a functioning car (thanks to Dad loans) and I eat healthy food, and have two cute dogs, and get good health care?  HOW?

But I am just looking for this landing place. This place where, for some brief time, there are no mountains, no limbo, and I don't have to write people in the middle of the night looking for hope. Because unfortunately, it's been 5 years on this mountain, then in this limbo, and I am running. Out.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Love needs Legs

I'm just going to copy and paste the lyrics to David Wilcox "Show the Way" because they make me feel hopeful and I'm not sure what else to write today.  This is not specific, just a general feeling about how things seem to be going.

You say you see no hope
You say you see no reason we should dream
That the world would ever change
You say that love is foolish to believe
'Cause they'll always be some crazy
With an army, [gun] or knife
To wake you from your daydream
Put the fear back in your life
If someone wrote a play
To just to glorify what's stronger than hate
Would they not arrange the stage
To look as if the hero came too late?
He's almost in defeat
It's looking like the evil side will when
So on the edge of every seat
From the moment that the whole thing begins
It is love who mixed the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene, set in shadows,
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play
For in this darkness love can show the way
Now the stage is set
You can feel your own heart beating in your chest
This life's not over yet
So we get up on our feet and do our best
We play against the fear
We play against the reasons not to try
We're playing for the tears
Burning in the happy angel's eyes

For it's love who mixed the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Though it looks like we're alone
In this scene, set in shadows,
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play
For in this darkness love will show the way

Friday, February 16, 2018

Who is Jesus?

I don't enjoy having time on my hands.  I know I should--I know somehow I should learn to relax, calm down, whatever.

But instead I hate being at home.  I hate housekeeping, and I hate listing "ways in which I was productive today" and feeling like there are never enough.

I have been like this for as long as I can remember.  I wanted to join every club, be in every play, every musical group, speech competitions, work. I was always spinning 5 plates on something imaginary.

So now I have this weird schedule where I work 12 hours one day, and then only a few hours each day the rest of the week.  I earn some money at home, writing, and sometimes singing. And I may be going insane.

"I thought you said this post was about Jesus?" you may be asking yourself.

This week a few things happened. A school shooting happened.  I am a teacher, and my children are students, and when a shooting happens I lose all sense of peace. I am a wreck. I hate my husband. I just donated money to something hoping that would assuage the horrible sense of sadness (I over-empathize with each victim, I feel sick to my stomach, and I blame everyone for any response that doesn't seem genuinely and totally compassionate. I have nightmares, and sometimes I can't sleep for days. 

You may be thinking, at this point, that this will be something about Jesus and tragedy, but it isn't.

It's about my struggle in faith when I hear the inner thoughts of "devout" people. You see, to me the worst thing about social media is knowing what other people think.  I trusted people--they may not even know I read it--7 or 8 words? and now I don't trust them. That happens a lot. One insight into the inner workings of another's mind and I don't like them.  Sometimes I quickly unfriend, I walk away, and I forget.  I start thinking of them by the way they present themselves to me, and not by what they said to a family member or friend. And the relationship remains, mostly, preserved.

But some--once I have seen what they think, I am left with this question, "How can your Jesus look so different from mine? And who is Jesus, who is the cornerstone of my life, if you--you who are devout, who claim to love him, who tell others about him--who is he really? Because he can't be all these conflicting things.  He can't delight in the pain of others, as you seem to think he does, and yet fully experience the pain of his creation, as I think he does. He can't think we should reject immigrants and welcome them. These are not political anymore to me, there are underlying spiritual aspects to this.

And the struggle is here. Because if you compare my Jesus with others in my life--it's not the same God. It's not the same words. It's not the same meanings. It's not the same set of standards we are each living. I don't say a prayer with that person and erase everything I know they seem to believe so adamantly. And if you can make up your Jesus, maybe I'm making up mine.  So there you go. It hurts and it asks me over and over and it keeps me up at night.

And all I want to do is learn who He is.  Because he said you'd disappoint me anyways.  He said, "many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person."

He knew not to trust us. Please God, help me reconcile how to love and not be disappointed, and remind me I won't get every answer, just a good supply of grace and truth.