Saturday, June 27, 2009

scary scary dentist appointment

So living in Taiwan is usually fine. I like it here, when I need something I can usually get it, using a combination of my Chinese, their English, and charades. But there's always that fear, that you'll wind up in a terrible situation where you just can't communicate. Like tonight.

I had an hour to kill in Taichung because we had an end-of-year dinner near work, so I decided to see if I could get a dentist appointment. I went to a big chain place, asked if the dentist could speak English, the girl said yes, I was called in.

He started out in Chinese. I asked if he could speak English, because as I said in Chinese, "My tooth Chinese is not good." He spoke some- the words he spoke, he said very clearly, but he just didn't know that many words. (Like me and my Chinese!)

He found a cavity (actually I think I've had a cavity there for quite a long time but that's another story) and said he could fill it. I asked if I'd be able to eat later. Sure he said.

And then the nightmare began.

To sum up:

deep cavity + drill + no novicaine (!!!!) = one freaking out foreigner

I was literally drenched in sweat and I have never had that experience, of sweating from pain. (And come on- you've seen what happened to my arm!) I managed to get him to stop and we talked for a mintue- he said it's going to hurt because it's so deep, I said can you give me novicaine, he said I don't know that word... he tried to get his suction cup and drill back in my mouth but I sat up and decided there was no way I was going to go through with this. He was nice, and I tried to be polite, and it turns out there's a dentist at that practice who went to school in America so he gave me a temporary filling and I made an appointment with the English-speaking dentist for Wednesday. I hope they have novicaine because can your really get a deep cavity filled without it? Or laughing gas or valium or something? If not I'm totally waiting until I'm back in America even if it costs $200 (instead of, um, $1.45 like it is here).


John Naruwan said...

There are so many dentists in Taichung. It's a crapshoot unless you can get a recommendation.
For some weird reason many Taiwanese don't use or want Novocaine etc when they get their teeth drilled so you sometimes have to ask for it. But for foreigners they'll often use it even for small cavities because they know that's what foreigners are used to. However, for a deep cavity I find it weird that the dentist wouldn't offer it. I'm sure he's heard of Novocaine but just wanted to get it finished. They might use a generic brand anyway rather than the one we're familiar with.

Taiwan-Teacher said...

Thanks! I think it will be better when I have the English-speaking dentist. I actually have heard about a few good dentists but it was so easy to just walk in instead of making an appointment... I guess that's what laziness gets me! That's interesting about them not using novicaine thought. Yikes. Back home they numb your gums before they give you the novicaine shot.