Yes, I know, I know, we’re on a “break”. But I just have to interrupt our brief holiday to up-date you on my harrowing experience with the Demon Dentist of Harley Street. I wrote the post below, along with a follow-up, about a year ago, detailing all the ways I’d like to torture my (former) dentist as much as she tortured me. Well, it seems she’s had the last laugh, because a) my complaint about her wasn’t followed through, as it was deemed more of a “personality clash” than outright incompetence; and b) the crown that took her 6 months to finally put in broke after less than a year. Broke. Porcelain, which I understand is stronger than my mother-in-law’s personality, broke.
So, here I am, about to move to a new country, packing up all my belongings and trying to say an organised farewell to London…instead of enjoying my final days here, I’m going to spend the next two weeks in a dental surgery, saying “aaaaaah” way too many times for my own comfort.
Grrrrr. Have I mentioned how much I detest my ex? No? Pardon me while I step to one side, to engage in some hysterical laughter, followed by intense sobbing and gnashing of teeth.
Hate’s such a strong word, but there’s no denying it – I hate my dentist. What should have been, at best, a one-month procedure, turned into 6 months of more dramatic twists and turns than a cheesy Friday night soap opera.
We started on friendly footing.
I was new in town, in need of a dentist, and was beguiled by her friendly attitude, credentials and office address: Harley Street, famed for being the location of medical surgeons and specialists since the 19th century. Kate Middleton has a doctor nearby, for god’s sake. What more did I need to hear?
I duly booked an appointment. I should have sensed something was wrong straight away, as there was no receptionist to speak with; I had to give my contact details to a machine instead. A week later, having given up on her ever returning my call, suddenly there she was on my phone, asking me if next Wednesday would be suitable for me?
Now that I think of it, I’ve never had a doctor or dentist actually ring me to confirm an appointment. That’s what receptionists are for.
Anyway, I’m new in town and put this down to a cultural difference, which makes no sense because this woman is American, not English.
On the day of reckoning, I slid into the comfy dentist chair, opened my mouth in anticipation, and discovered that I needed 3 crowns replaced straight away, plus a cleaning and some x-rays. It took us 2 hours to get through that appointment; 30 minutes of waiting for her to show up after lunch, 15 minutes to see the client who’d been waiting an hour before me, and 1 and a 1/4 hours for me to be told something I kind of knew already.
I was the perfect patsy.
Curiosities that I accepted with blissful ignorance:
- she had no assistants helping her
- her office changed address with each appointment
- and she spent a lot of time talking about how both her ex- and current partner disappoint her, her difficult teenage daughter, her daughter’s outrageous school fees, and how stressful it is to find a good nanny in this town.
All this passed from her to me while I lay there, helpless, mouth open wide, eyes bulging and fingers drumming on the chair beneath me. I just wanted her to shut up, get on with the work and let me escape. Was that too much to ask?
She would stop mid-stream each time her phone rang, as it might be her daughter, the nanny, her current partner or her ex-husband. I got to listen to fascinating one-sided discussions when the nanny and current guy would call:
“I can’t pick up Beelzebub after school, ask your nanny to do it.” This required an immediate call to the nanny, but first she patted my shoulder reassuringly, “Don’t worry Wendy, the freezing won’t wear off just yet, so hang in there!”
Frenzied stabbing of numbers on her mobile phone:
Hello, Flora, it’s me, can you pick up little Beelzebub? He’s out of kindergarten now and that rat boyfriend of mine can’t pick him up…you want to charge me for it because it’s considered over-time?…(sigh)…okay, that’s fine. Call my friend, do you have her number? Now, take my daughter and Beelzebub to my friend’s and I’m sure her nanny will take care of them until I get home…it’s annoying I agree, but this patient here is taking a lot of time, so…(sigh)…I guess it just can’t be helped…
In between each phone call, she’d be muttering to herself while I sat there feeling uncomfortably like it was my fault she was so bad at managing her time, listening to the drama unfolding but unable to escape.
The day she fitted me for my crowns, she took 5 hours. 5 fah-reakin’ hours. Between the fitting and the phoning and the fretting, I was a basket case by the time I left. One point in the afternoon, I had to pee, rather urgently. I was sent to the bathroom with dental cement stuck in my mouth, with the admonishment, “whatever you do, don’t unclench!” ringing in my ears as I closed the door. Try peeing and telling yourself at the same time to not to unclench – see how successful you are.
I realized, as I lurched homeward bound that evening, that it was too late for me to turn back. She and I were in this for the long haul, and it was my job to make sure it was as swift as possible.
How was I to know that things were about to get worse? Like, zombie-movie, boiling bunnies and ice-picks in the heart worse. But they were.
I’ll have a strong martini now to settle my nerves, and will finish this saga of disastrous dentistry in my next letter,