I'm happy to say I don't have a phobia about dentists and dentistry, despite the horrifying Marathon Man incident I wrote about yesterday. That story had a happy outcome, as this one will.
In fact, a few years later, when I lived in Washington DC, I had to have, or decided to have, an oral surgery procedure done to correct the problem that had caused my tooth pain and gum swelling in Paris in 1980. I found a very good dental surgeon in DC, just steps from the apartment that Walt and I lived in, and the operation was a success. I've never had a problem with that molar again.
And I didn't end up in the emergency room, as did the woman who cuts my hair these days, after her visit to the dentist in Saint-Aignan. The dentist had drilled so deeply into a tooth that she had damaged the patient's optic nerve, resulting in loss of vision in one eye. It was a temporary condition, and our coiffeuse recovered completely, by the way.
The fact is, however, that as August dawned, I still hadn't found a dentist. I happened to have scheduled an appointment with my médecin traitant (primary care physician) in Saint-Aignan. He examined my injured finger, and I asked him if he could help me find a dentist. He said that three dentists had recently set up a joint practice over in the village of Meusnes. I should call that office.
I had actually called there in July, only to get a recording to say that all the dentists were on vacation for three weeks. Please call back in August, I was told. In mid-August, I was out and about so I drove over to Meunes, just 7 or 8 miles west of Saint-Aignan. Sometimes you have more luck in person than over the phone. (Meusnes a wine village where, I've heard, the famous French tennis player Yannick Noah spent many summers when he was growing up.)
When I got there I drove all around the village until I found the dental office, which is in a modern building on the main road but on the other side of town, on the way to Selles-sur-Cher. There were five or six cars in the parking lot. And there was a big sign on the door saying something like « Les prises de rendez-vous s'effectuent uniquement par téléphone », followed by a phone number. So I had to drive back home and call for a rendez-vous.
Guess what? I got an answering machine again. I left my message, saying I wanted two rendez-vous and gave my name and Walt's. A few minutes later, I got a call back from a woman who said she had been unable to find either of our names in her patient database. I said that was right — we would be first-time patients because our dentist, le docteur Bigot, had recently retired.
She asked me what the purpose of our dental consultation would be. I told her there was nothing really urgent, thinking that would give her some leeway in scheduling the appointments. We could wait a few weeks or even a couple of months. And I told her that we just needed exams and a cleaning for the time being, but would like to be on her patient list.
Je suis désolée, Monsieur, she told me, but we just cannot take on any new patients at this time. And besides, she added, as if it mattered at that point, an initial rendez-vous with one of our dentists never includes a détartrage! It would simply be an informational session, a get-to-know-you meeting, and then we would continue from there. She seemed to be pretty full of herself.
She did, however, share some useful information. There are two or three dentists over in Montrichard, and two or three up in Contres — both of those towns are within 10 or 12 miles of Saint-Aignan — she said. One of them might be able to see you. I thanked her and that was that.
To be continued...