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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"I admire your professionalism" - Part Two

At last we come to the day of judgement......the day which all of our travels these past three months have revolved around.....our return to Dr. Eva Urena in Los Algondones for TLE's* dental implant surgery.  I'm certain no one really looks forward to dental surgery (except Bill Murray's character in 'Little Shop of Horrors') involving drilling into your jawbone, and I know for a fact TLE was not looking forward to this day, but then again this day is all that stands between us and another summer at SLT**.  In fact, this day and the near future resolution of TLE's current dental needs (a new crown) are all that stand between us and traveling back to the eastern realms of our great nation.  Due to the nature of the dental work required, and several appointments spaced months apart we have had to modify significantly our travel plans this year.  Nevertheless, that is part of the nomadic lifestyle......stuff happens and you adapt....you make a new plan, which is what we are still doing as I write.


Just a few minutes before TLE headed for surgery

We were up early Monday as we wanted to start our 8 mile drive to the Mexican border at 8 am, and arrive at Dr. Urena's office by 8:30 for our 9 am appointments.....dental implant surgery for TLE and the first half of my 'deep cleaning'.

We arrived at the large border parking lot at the U.S./Mexico border entry point about 8:15 (see Google Earth map below), and began our 5 block walk to Dr. Urena's office........


......arriving just after 8:30, and settled in to wait for TLE's turn in the 'chair'.  Just after 9 am TLE was called in by Dr. Urena, and I offered up a silent prayer for her.....not because I don't trust Dr. Urena, but just because I know that sometimes the unexpected happens.

Naturally, when we crossed the border we both put our phones on airplane mode, but as soon as we arrived at Dr. Urena's office the WiFi on my phone recognized the office WiFi hotspot from our prior visit and quickly connected me once again to the outside world.  I was rather opportune that my phone decided it was time to update its operating software....better to use someone else's broadband than mine, right?  It took the better part of 40 minutes for all the downloads, and installations to take place (Verizon did this update in two consecutive stages), and by that time I was hearing TLE laughing, and deduced her surgery must be done, and I was correct.....within a minute or two I was called back for my deep cleaning.  I had arrived expecting that I would be having the entire 'deep cleaning' done in one appointment, but Dr. Urena prefers to do it in two appointments as it can be rather traumatic to your gums.  When she advised she would just do the left side of my mouth (upper and lower) this trip I was caught off guard and asked "well, when will we be doing the second part?"....she replied "when Elaine comes back to have her stitches out".....doh!  Why had I not expected that?  Of course, when there is surgery there are often stitches involved, and this was one of them.  So now I asked "when will that be?".....Dr. Urena replies....."in 10 days".....wait, what?  We're supposed to be in South Lake Tahoe in 4 days.

This is part of what I was writing about earlier in this post...... stuff happens in this nomadic life, just like in 'sticks and bricks' life,  which requires you to adapt and make a new plan.....more on that later.  

Before commencing with the 'deep cleaning' Dr. Urena gave me two shots of novacane to my left upper and two more to my left lower jaw.....this was not something I was expecting as my former dentist of almost 30 years never did this, and, of course, it would get very uncomfortable.  The novacane essentially took away any possibility of discomfort, and that was very much appreciated.  While she dug deeply into my gums I was thinking about how to deal with the unexpected 10 days that had just been added to our itinerary.......there was no way we were going to sit in Winterhaven for 10 days, so the choice was easy.  Instead of 1 day and night in Riverside with our kids we'll have 10.....we'll just drive back down to Los Algondones on May 7th, get TLE's stitches out and the second half of my deep cleaning, then back the same day to Riverside.  We'll just leave Riverside the next morning (8th) and be in SLT** on the afternoon of the 9th.

Dr. Urena was done with the left side of my oral cavity within 20 minutes, and I walked back into the lobby to find TLE doing just fine.....she was not aware at this point that she had to return in 10 days to have the stitches out, so I explained what we should do and she agreed immediately.

Next it was time to pay for our services...$800 for TLE's dental implant, $12 for the oral antiseptic mouth wash we will both be using once a day for the next 10 days, $160 for the first half of my 'deep cleaning' ($80/quadrant), then it was off to the pharmacy for TLE's antibiotics ($27), and back across the border into the good old US of A.  We were back at the car before 10:30.....just two short hours after arriving. 

How do our costs compare with what we would have paid in the U.S.A.?  Typically the amount paid for a dental implant is close to $2,500 (Dr. Urena's charge - $800), and the cost per quadrant for a 'deep cleaning' starts at $150, and can go as high as $400 (Dr. Urena's charge - $60/quadrant).  Our total out of pocket expenses for this visit were $999.  We'll owe another $160 in 10 days for my right upper and lower quadrants, and then when we come back in a few months another $700 for TLE's crown.

TLE says the surgery to install the implant was less painful than the actual pulling of the bad root canal a few months ago.....she has taken no pain killers this time, just the antibiotics, and the oral antiseptic.  The other thing that has impressed me both times we have been to Dr. Urena's office is that we were taken in for our appointments on time.  I don't think I ever had that happen with my old dentist.  Additionally, if you are unable to walk the 5 blocks to the office, George will drive over to the border checkpoint and pick you up.....I don't know any dentist in the USA that will do that.

We recrossed the Arizona border and stopped off at Fry's Supermarket on the way home to buy some 'On The Border' Chips (for me....TLE is on soft foods for a few days), and some brown sugar, then headed home for the afternoon.  As soon as we returned I sent off an e-mail to our SLT** boss advising the change in our plans, and he immediately replied that our 9-10 day delay would be no problem,   Then I sent a text message to all the kids letting them know we would be in town for 10 days, not 1 day.....of course they were overjoyed......and I am too....:-)

Thanks for stopping by!


* TLE = The Lovely Elaine
** SLT = South Lake Tahoe

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