Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Playing "Telephone" with Doctors

So the Friday before last a little piece of one of my back molars (ironically, the only one that has never had any dental work) chipped. My first thought, as any rational person's would be, was: Oh My God! What if I swallowed a splinter, and it scrapes the lining of my stomach or intestine and I hemorhage? Upon calmer reflection, I decided that internal bleeding from a chip of tooth smaller than a Pop Rock wasn't all that likely, but that I definitely needed to call the dentist and have him check it out.

*Let me just add here, as an aside, that I love my dentist. He does great work, has a marvelous sense of humor, hates G.Dub, and admitted not long ago that Talking Heads is one of his all-time favorite bands. His staff is also very cool. As someone who spent the first 18 years of my life being terrified of dentists, I feel very lucky to have found divine Dr. K.*

So anyway, I set up a brief appointment for last Thursday so that Dr. K could have a look at my tooth and also discuss the ramifications of blood-thinning drugs on dental procedures. He said that it looked like a small filling would be needed, and that he has many patients on Coumadin and didn't feel that it would be a big deal, but that I should definitely check with my medical doctor to make sure that everything was kosher. We scheduled an appt. for this Tuesday (today). I called my clinic, found out that my doctor wasn't in, but would be on Friday, and left a message to have either her or the nurse call me back. Friday came and went. Yesterday I called the clinic again, and left another message. While I was in class, I received two messages from one of the nurses. The first one said that I needed to go off the Coumadin for five days, but then she said that she had to clarify when during that time I was supposed to have the dental work done. The second message said three days before my filling, and then stay off for the two days after the filling was done. I called back and talked to the nurse, and she reiterated the information, but wasn't sure what the risk was for going off Coumadin for five days since I've only been on it for about 6 weeks. Later I got a phone message from the Dr. herself, asking if perhaps I could just hold off on the dental work for 6 months. That irked me, since I have told her in the past that I will have to be on Coumadin for at least 9 months, and possibly for the rest of my life. I know, I know, she sees a lot of people, but jeez, check your notes! Anyway, this morning I went to the clinic to have my INR checked, and managed to talk to Dr. T's nurse directly. Much to my amusement, she wrote down my questions and information, walked around the corner to talk to the doctor, (I could still hear her voice) and then came back to give me the answer! Why couldn't the doctor just poke her head out and give me an answer? Why play telephone? Anyway, it now sounds like it won't be too big a deal to get the dental work done-- I just need to not take the Coumadin for 1-2 days before hand, and then resume that evening after my appointment. Simple, right?


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