FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Monetizing My Mouth

Discovering I had “deep pockets,” my dentist sent me to see a periodontist, a gum specialist. Having been down this road before and fearing pain and humiliation, I dawdled – for many months. She finally insisted I had to go. So I went.

The periodontist’s office billboard announced he was a private corporation (PC) specializing in “periodontal and implant surgery.” After filling out the requisite forms attesting to my fitness (medical and financial) to undergo the trials of modern medicine, and freeing the doctor from liability in the event of untoward results from his efforts in my behalf, and a wait, I was ushered into his chamber.

After another wait, he came in and we chatted about my teeth. He gave me a meticulous examination. Applying great lateral pressure to each tooth, he found that several could be made to wobble. “These teeth need to be saved,” he told me. He took X-rays, which found “extensive bone loss,” illuminating my teeth’s instability. He explained all this to me carefully, revealing a stern concern for my welfare. His conclusion: he needed to operate to determine if one tooth could be saved.

I returned several weeks later and he numbed up the side of my mouth where he would be operating. He engaged in light banter with the hygienist helping him; they displayed a well-practiced patter, like an old married couple. They inserted a variety of appliances into my mouth to keep it dry and to saturate it with water. Then began the “deep cleaning” of my “deep pockets” and the exploration to see if my tooth could be “saved.”

During the hours-long process, I had to halt the proceedings to swallow and breathe.

“Aren’t you comfortable?” he asked with jocular surprise. I was in no distress, but I replied, “I’m a good ways from comfortable, with you stomping around in there.”

The slightest irritation crept into his voice as he corrected me. “I’m not stomping, I’m excavating.” I nodded. I liked the mining analogy. He even wears a head lamp. And he chooses his words carefully.

To lighten things, the hygienist teasingly asked me, ”When have you ever been more comfortable than this?” Answering her own question before I could, she said to the doctor, ”Right before he came in here, I bet.” Very professional.

I shrugged my shoulder. He returned to search for buried treasure and I to breathe and swallow without interrupting his labors.

As they cleaned up and I rinsed, he said he thought he could save the tooth. He had inserted a cadaveric bone graft to stimulate bone growth in the area of loss. He also explained that several teeth did not do their job properly owing to misalignment. Such “inefficiencies” in my chewing added pressure on the wobbling teeth and besides cleaning out my deep pockets I might need further surgery, maybe even orthodonture. Sensing I was not immediately receptive to the suggestion (I’m 68), he assured me he would try to see what he could do to resolve my problem by other, unspecified means.

I was given prescriptions for antiseptic mouthwash, antibiotics, pain pills and an instruction sheet, which he reviewed with me. I was dispatched to the desk where a dour clerk relieved my credit card of several thousand dollars and an appointment was made for my return. I was unsure which step was the actual cleaning of my “deep pockets.”

I was free to go home to rinse and ponder how deeply capitalism has penetrated our lives how each of us has become the terrain of an ongoing treasure hunt, mapped by increasingly sophisticated, “non-invasive” imaging technology. A dizzying array of specialists explores our bodies searching for any imperfections that might be corrected, so that each of us can conform to a preconceived, pseudo-scientific ideal.

“There’s gold in them thar” gums, lungs, hearts, feet, backs, bones, skin or any other body part partitioned off for reconnoitering and quarrying. Especially in geezers like me.

“Golden years” has taken on a new meaning in light of modern capitalist medicine. My physical decline now provides a way for dynamic medical entrepreneurs to mobilize armies of attendants and “create jobs,” the highest social good in our dark times. Seniors like me have a new social role, stimulating a stagnant economy by plodding from visit to visit.

There is no issue of malpractice or malfeasance here, no individual wrongdoing, no violation of accepted community standards of care. Rather the whole of medical practice is dominated by the capitalist ethic: Like Mother Earth, everything – and everyone – is a dead resource to be exploited for private gain.

More articles by:

Paul C. Bermanzohn is working on his book, called “Decoding the Matrix: A Preliminary History of the US Propaganda system.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Weekend Edition
April 27, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Ralph Nader
Citizen-Mayor Gayle Roars through Richmond California
James McEnteer
Adding Incel to Injury
Ron Jacobs
A Warning Likely to Be Unheeded: A Review of Norman Pollack’s Final Book
Dean Baker
The Amazon Tax: Higher Rents
Shamus Cooke
Portland’s Socialists Protest New Navy Ship, U.S.S Portland, as Democrats Bestow it Honors
Craig Gordon
Which Side Are Union “Leaders” On?
Malú Huacuja del Toro
Sean Penn Dismisses Mexican Victims of Organized Crime . . . Again
Fran Teplitz
Corporations Should Have to Hear From Their Owners
Robert Koehler
Can We Unlock the Golden Door?
Binoy Kampmark
Plunder Down Under: the Rot in Australia’s Financial Services
Saurav Sarkar
Bring Back May Day
Graham Peebles
Crisis of Consciousness: Change and the Individual
Louis Proyect
Racism and Eugenics, American-Style
April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail