Ah, the twenties. Not the 1920's, but that decade in my life when I skated by without any health insurance. I discovered this about the time I jumped out of a swing and tore three of the four ligaments in my left knee. Meeting with a surgeon the following day left me with two options: cast up the leg and see how the leg came back together under the cover of darkness and plaster, or open it up and see what we could do about getting me back to fighting trim. It seemed, at the time, like a no-brainer. This was unfortunate for the simple reason that surgery, whether it be on knees or the absence of brain, costs money. Insurance money. Somewhere in the flurry that was my parents' divorce there hadn't been any discussion of who would be insuring those of us without brains or coverage from our employer. After I was all sutured up and coming out of anesthesia, the bomb dropped in the form of a question: How did you want to pay for this?
The short answer is time. The slightly longer answer is payments. We were able to swing a deal with the doctors who repaired my knee in which I was asked to pay for the refurbished limb a hundred fifty dollars a month for what seemed like ever. Working at a video store didn't net me any kind of insurance, unless that meant that I never had to worry about getting a VCR and a copy of Top Gun for the next family gathering. When that shop closed and I went to work assembling modular office furniture, I learned a lot about cordless drills, and I'm pretty sure that if I had dropped a desk on my foot I would have gotten a ride in the company van to the emergency room. But I expect I would have been laughed out of the room if I had asked if regular eye exams were part of the plan. I don't think it would have occurred to me to ask. I was in my twenties. I was indestructible. In spite of the mounting evidence to the contrary like that knee surgery, I was a lean, mean fighting machine. With really ugly teeth.
I spent those roaring twenties without any regular dental care. I have always been a pretty conscientious brusher and flosser, but I didn't have anyone giving me that deep down to the gums cleaning during the Reagan/Bush regime. It wasn't until I was going to be married when my father picked me up at the airport and suggested that he make an appointment with our old family pal, Doctor Willy Kittleman, DDS. It took an extra long time in the chair, but on my wedding day, my teeth sparkled and shone, not unlike the glare from my forehead. Shortly after that, as a newlywed and as a member of an employee owned corporation, I went out and shopped for a dentist. One that I could see twice a year and have it all nicely covered, including x-rays and fillings.
That was more than twenty years ago and now, it seems, I will be letting someone else paw around in my mouth for the next twenty years or so. My dentist is retiring, and leaving his practice to this nice lady who I'm certain will do a good job and whose billing system will not change the tiniest bit from how things are right now, but change is hard.
And so is finding good health care. Things in my body and my mouth are moving from a more ordered state to less ordered. I shouldn't expect anything different from the universe. Maybe I could get entropy insurance.