my health insurance actually has some dental coverage but my longtime dentist (doctor huang) doesn't accept it. so when my mother told me about a dentist in boston that will accept my insurance, i decided to give them a try. after eating two tea eggs for lunch and brushing my teeth one last time, i left at 1pm for my 1:45pm appointment. i was told to arrive a little early to fill out some forms as this was my first visit. doctor guan's office is right in the heart of downtown, on tremont street across the park street station entrance. i got to it via cambridge-tremont, riding by government center. i took my fuji and tried to go slow enough so i wouldn't arrive all sweaty on a hot day (approaching 90's) wearing pants no less. but being a prolific perspirator, i couldn't avoid being still a little sweaty when i finally arrived.
as the area has a pretty high traffic density, i had to be buzzed into the building, which is understandable, to prevent vagrants from wandering around inside. the building itself is rather narrow, and a staircase takes up most of the thin hallway, with an elevator at the far end. as the office was on the 5th floor, i decided to ride the elevator. the entrance was small, big enough for only one person to get in or out, and could probably only hold 4-6 people at most and it'd be a tight squeeze. i was surprised when the elevator door opened from a different side, wasn't expecting that.
like all areas of the building, the reception/waiting room was also cramped, with seats you nearly have to sit sideways in order not to get your knees knocked whenever anybody walked by. an asian woman was filling out a form when i arrived, the way she talked and acted showed she was thoroughly westernized, no trace of immigrant trappings. as such, she also carried herself with an air of entitlement, and later i heard her getting into an argument with the dentist over her medical records, and she then sort of stormed out of the office, muttering she was going elsewhere.
what she failed to understand is this was a dentistry that catered mostly to asian immigrants, staffed by immigrants as well. you basically have to leave your expectations at the door. having said that, i felt they still kept it pretty professional. i'd mentioned i had a heart murmur on my form, so the dentist took the time to call my doctor to get proper medical clearance (this has never been an issue in the past). the exam room was small, the exam chair had a rip in the middle, but at least the place had a window (but seemed to be blocked).
they had an x-ray machine, which is at least better than any of the dentists i saw while i was in changshou china, none of which had such an equipment. speaking of which, the first thing they did was to take some x-rays of my teeth, as this was my first visit. i figured they'd snap a few, but after a couple of them i asked the nurse just how many they were going to take. "18," she replied. what? that's a lot of x-rays. not that i was afraid of getting so many (okay, maybe slightly afraid, but i get exposed to far more radiation during a routine flight to asia), nor uncomfortable chomping down on those film bits, but at least give me some warning ahead of time so i could know what to expect.
after my x-rays, a hygienist named wendell came in to clean my teeth. he was a young black man in his mid-20's, the only person there who wasn't asian. cleaning starts with scraping, following by buffing with some fluoride cream. he seemed confused at first, given the amount of work and overall wearing i had on my teeth. "how old are you?" he asked. when i told him my age everything then made sense for him. "i thought you were in your mid-20's, with the teeth of somebody much older," he told me.
later he measured the pockets around my teeth, and apparently i have some deep ones. he chided me for not flossing, until i told him i floss every night. he suggested i get a water pick to use as well, to reach those crevasses where flossing and brushing can't get. when my x-rays were developed, i was almost embarrassed for anyone to see them, since i've had a lot of work done, which the x-ray revealed. wendell said it wasn't bad, that all that work showed at least i took care of my teeth, which is a lot more than some of the patients they get, who wait until the very last moment to get their teeth fixed.
i only saw doctor guan briefly, just a few minutes, as she came into the exam room to look at my dental x-rays, then look inside my mouth. the real reason why i was there was to see if i could get a filling replaced on one of my molars. she took a look at it and said it wasn't the filling that came out, but rather a large piece of the tooth had broken off. i'd need a crown. earlier wendell said the same thing, but he said because the tooth was still okay (just some broken parts), i wouldn't need a root canal, just the crown part.
with that my visit was finished. i went to go pay, but my insurance would cover everything, from x-rays to cleaning. the vietnamese receptionist told me however that a crown procedure would not be covered, and it'd cost me $1250 to get it done. i told her i'd consult with my regular dentist and see what he has to say about it. i ended up walking down the stairs instead of taking the claustrophobic elevator.
i walked my bike up park street towards the state house, so i could get back onto cambridge street via bowdoin, not realizing that park street is actually a two-way street. i stopped to take a photo but i noticed from the corner of my eye an old chinese lady (she looked a little tibetan) waving a piece of paper in my direction. at first i thought she was trying to preach me something. she spoke mandarin directly at me, didn't care if i could understand it or not. she wanted to get to the address on her business card, which by some cosmic coincidence, was the tremont street dentist office i just left. i was trying to her this but she didn't seem to understand. i told her to walk straight down the street to her destination. "can you come with me?" she asked, that's when i noticed she was pushing a walker. what was she doing outside on such a hot day, with no sense of direction? maybe on a normal day i might've helped her, but i told her i was in a rush to leave, and pointed her to the right direction once more.
i took a quick shower as soon as i got home, and left again, this time to belmont. i bumped into renee while i was leaving, who gave me an unprompted report of what she'd been doing earlier, which involved swimming and hiking and biking. she told me she fell off her bike why adjusting her hat but fortunately didn't break any bones. when i got to belmont nobody was home but both cars were in the driveway. i took another quick shower, my clean clothes completely soaked with sweat. my parents finally came home a short time later, my mother clutching her left wrist, said she fell off her bike while riding around fresh pond with my father. her wrist was swollen, and so were both her legs where she hit the bike, as well as a scratched up elbow. we got her some ice and painkillers while she sat on the couch feeling miserable.
my father helped me cut the naked butt connector in half with a dremel tool so i could use it as a crimp for the thermal fuse cable i was making. one end was okay, the other needed a bit of cleaning to open up the hole that'd been partially blocked by the sheared metal.
about 2 hours later my mother said she was feeling much better. her legs still hurt, but her wrist seemed to be back to normal, where earlier it seemed bad enough that she couldn't move it and we thought there was a chance it might be broken.
there of course would be no cooking tonight so we opted for take-out pizza instead. there's a 50% off all specialty pizza sale this week. we never tried domino's specialty pizza before, but it was a good bargain at half price, considering specialty pizzas typically range in 7-9 toppings, while we normally get the 3-topping pizzas. we picked the extravaganzza feast, which had 4 meats and 4 vegetable toppings with an extra helping of mozzarella cheese, and the spinach & feta cheese (with 4 different cheeses). my father and i went to go pick it up by 5pm. the pizzas turned out especially delicious, much better than our typical selections.
after dinner i assembled the new thermal fuse cable, getting my father's help in crimping the segments together.
once i biked back to cambridge, i went about installing the thermal fuse back into the espresso machine. it was pretty straight forward, but i did have to look at an old photo of the wiring for reference. after adding some water to the tank, i plugged in the machine to test it out. after a few seconds, the second light turned on, indicating it was ready for espresso making. i used the infrared thermometer to read the temperature on the thermoblock, which went as high as 170°F before automatically dropping back down. so the thing didn't explode, and seemed to be maintaining a consistent temperature, so i call that a success.
i've rediscovered happy endings, of which the first half of season 1 can be found for free (with commercial interruptions) on crackle. that was such a funny show, it's a shame that it only lasted 3 seasons.