Yesterday I spent half the day wondering whether I really needed to go to the dentist about that disturbing cracking sound and brief shooting pain I experienced when taking an inoffensive bite from a Rich Tea biscuit. When I realised that, despite the lack of further pain, I could actually hinge the back cusp away from the filling with a gingerly tongue, I decided that yes, indeed, I did need to go. Even though I was booked to have the temporary filling prepared for a crown in only ten days, it didn't seem like I could wait that long.
But it was getting on. I had to pick up the togster from school by 3:30, then had to be at the tigling's school by 6:30 to collect her from the bus returning from a 3-day school camp. I didn't have time to negotiate with my health insurance provider's dental production-line (sited a half-hour's drive away as well), so I decided to go to a local Newtown dentist for emergency crack-fixing instead. I knew that the dentist I used to go to had had provisions to "bulk-bill" health funds, and hoped that the person who'd taken over his practise still did so.
You see, when I came back from living overseas a while ago, I was informed that my dentist had sadly died, in early middle age, from cancer. This coincided with my health fund setting up their own dental factory, so I thought I might as well go there. As it happens, my GP and my dentist were brothers, but as we'd been away and this had apparently happened a while ago, we didn't feel like saying anything to the GP about his loss. That whole WASP reticence about emotional matters thing.
I was surprised to see in the phone directory that the surname was still the same. Did my doc have another dentist sibling? Had the deceased dentist had a child both willing and able to take over the family business?
No. He wasn't dead. In fact he looked extremely hale and hearty, and was the same efficient practitioner I remembered, with a nicely renovated surgery. And when, after the treatment, he asked whether I used to be one of his patients years ago, I came clean: "well, I know this is going to sound strange, but..."
He howled with laughter, and we both agreed that it was pleasant all round that he was not, in fact, dead. Also that I should have said something condoling to his brother, because then bro would have told me that he was not, in fact, dead. I have no idea why the person I spoke to thought that he was, in fact, dead: because I don't think she was pulling my leg about such a thing.
So the moral is (and I'm sure you'll all find this immensely useful): if someone tells you your dentist is dead, don't automatically believe them.