Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Maginificent obsession

Originally uploaded by Ben McLeod.

My boyfriend BG likes to brag about the fact that he gets free health care from the VA (Veteran's Administration). He goes there for his HIV meds, and to see his shrink (and get those zombie shrink meds they give schizophrenics like BG). Dermatologists, bone specialists, urologists, what-have-you. Plus a psych ward for those special times when pyschosis pays a call.

I sometimes try to point out to him that he has Medicare and could go to an outside doctor from time to time and perhaps get better treatment, particularly since he has almost been killed--literally-- by VA doctors a number of times. If he were the litigous type, he might very well be a wealthy man by now.

The Manhattan VA has metal detectors and guards, as well it should--though not all VA's do. But BG did tell me a story (I don't know if it's true, but I'd bet it is), about a time before the metal detectors were in place and disaster ensued.

Seems a vet needed to have one leg amputated, so he went to the VA. The story goes that the doctor, in his infinite ineptitude, performed the operation--but did so on the wrong leg. The vet, it is said, came back with a gun and blew said doctor away.

I must say, I'd have been a bit miffed myself. And I have no trouble at all believing this story is true, considering the care BG and others receive at the VA hospital. Recently BG had to schlep to Manhattan--a one hour trip--three separate times before a doctor finally kept her scheduled appointment and saw him--after a three-hour wait.

Be that as it may, BG takes particular pride in the fact that, since he is a vet with HIV, he gets free dental care. I have a dental plan, but it pays bubkis, so at first glance this might be seen as a great perk. However, although the BG family crest does read: 'Cheap is good, free is better," I tend to think that if you receive free shit sandwiches, it might be best to do without.

In any case, BG's been seeing his current dentist, Dr. U, for a number of years. I've met the woman, and she's courteous enough, I suppose. But she is so peculiar that we long ago gave her the nickname of Robo-dentist.

Every time BG comes there for dental "treatment," as soon as he sits down Robo-dentist goes through the exact same routine without fail and without deviation:

Mr. BG, please rinse with this. Some-people -say-that-it-tastes-like-Listerine-and-some-even-say-it-tastes-better.

Then, she points at the chart on the wall and goes down the list.

Do you have any sores in your mouth. Do you have any bleeding. Do you have any pain....

Admittedly, this is certainly better than some of the sadistic psychoshrinks BG has encountered at the VA, but it is very strange nonetheless. BG and I have often pondered why Dr. U goes through this Listerine routine as if she's never laid eyes on BG before. I said, what could cause this strange behavior? Does she have a very bad short term memory? What's the deal?

Gradually, BG filled me in on more details about Dr. U. For one thing, Dr. U wears full surgical scrubs, as if she were in a burn unit. No other dentists we've ever encountered, there or anywhere else, do so. She also seems to have no sense of humor whatsoever.

BG is a very affable fellow, and loves to laugh and make people laugh. To cite one instance, Dr. U seems to be particularly obsessed with getting BG to stop smoking. One time she asked how the smoking was going, and again gave BG the newsflash that smoking could be harmful to his health. Her wise words on the matter: "Mr. BG, you can live without your teeth, but you can't live without your lungs." To which BG retorted with the old chestnut: "Hey, I've been smoking for 40 years, and my lung feels great."

Her reaction to this, as with all BG's attempts at wit, was the same as it always is. Not even a smile, or a fake laugh to be polite. Rather, total silence, followed by: "Oh Mr. BG, you are so funny."

She also has a full dossier on BG, and it has nothing to do with his teeth. Long ago, I submitted BG's slides for an art competition, where the prize was inclusion in a full-color catalog. One of BG's paintings was reproduced in the book, which was, perhaps, 150 pages in length. BG brought it in to show Dr. U, and she asked if she could xerox the picture. BG said certainly, and sat there for about 20 minutes. When Dr. U had returned, he saw that she had xeroxed not just the one page, but the entire book, and then put it in her "BG" file.

Admittedly, BG's teeth--what is left of them--are in bad shape. Nevertheless, Dr. U seems to view BG as a continual work in progress. She is always giving him "temporary" fillings. I have heard of temporary crowns and caps, since the permanent ones need to be made, and this takes some time. But temporary fillings?

I'm no dentist, but I do believe that Dr. U's endless crotzing around has cost BG several teeth already. He's had two painful extractions in the past year alone, and I am convinced from what BG has told me that Dr. U is not interested in saving the teeth BG still has, but in making sure that he loses all of them. Perhaps since her husband specializes in dentures, she apparently is very intent on making sure that BG has a full set as soon as possible.

One day she said to BG: You know, Mr. BG, you are going to eventually lose all your teeth. The next time he saw J, the dental hygienist, an affable man who did have a sense of humor and personality, he asked BG: "What is that woman doing for you, exactly?"

BG told the hygienist what Dr. U had said about being toothless soon.

To which J replied: "You know, BG, Dr. U is full of it."

J used to work in a private dentist's office. He saw firsthand how the dentist he worked for would, say, do a filling for one tooth, but deliberately create a new cavity in a healthy tooth at the same time. So J quit, and came to work for the VA.

In any case, BG was coming back over and over to see Dr. U, but most of the time she didn't do much. But she liked to schedule 2-hour appointments nevertheless. After giving BG the Listerine spiel and the chart rundown, first Dr. U would start writing furiously at the computer for quite a long time. When BG would see her scrolling down, he saw all the endless data she had written about him which had nothing to do with his teeth, including details about his artwork and such.

She then would disappear for about 20 minutes at a clip, come back, work on a temporary filling, leave again, come back again.

At the end of the session, she would always give BG a limp handshake, and say, in her robotic way: "Thank you for serving our country."

The more I heard about Dr. U, the more fervently I tried to understand what her motives might be. I had a suspicion that the VA, which was constantly threatened with budget cuts, had to justify each employee's continued tenure there by the number of appointments each doctor logged in. Could that be the reason for Dr. U's two-hour sessions, with perhaps 5 or ten minutes of real dentisty (such as it was) perfomed?

But it seemed to go deeper than this. It seemed to be some type of personality disorder--or perhaps, lack of personality disorder. BG and I tried to imagine her having sex with her dentist-husband at the end of a long day:

I will now fondle your penis until you obtain an erection. Now you can insert your penis into my vagina. Some people say it feels good.....

Ugh. Whatever. Best not to go there.



At 4:29 PM, Blogger Nikky Egland said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah, Ill bet her husband gets a better erection rinsing with listerine than he does from her.. she sounds like a real "fiery lass." If I had the wrong leg sawed off, I would shoot that dumbass doctor too.

At 4:57 PM, Blogger artdetective said...

When I lived in New York and had no insurance because I was in grad school my wisdom teeth started coming in. I did the dial-a-dentist thing for a consultation. DON'T EVER DIAL A DENTIST. They send you to doctors who need patients. Why don't these doctors have enough patients? I found out when I went to Doctor Wank. No really, that was his name. He was patronizing (to me) and verbally abusive (to his staff), and I wondered if I were to go to him for an extracion, would I wake up from the anasthesia having been molested? I'd tell the whole tale, but maybe I'll save it for a post of my own. Stay away from Wank.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger JC said...

I can hardly wait!

At 10:31 AM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

Dr. U sounds like a trip! lol

I don't think I could handle the weirdness of going to her...

At 10:39 AM, Blogger surly girl said...

i think she really is a robot. either that or she has a huge crush on BG and goes all random around him. the writing-down stuff is part of a dossier she's compiling and and she will soon be spending the hours between 1 and 3am shouting pertinent facts through your letterbox.

you mark my words.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger cleverabuse said...

this is magnificent! if writing in this manner is viewed as tilted...sign me up for the crazy bus. love your blog and will continue to read

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 4:09 PM, Blogger ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

DEAR GOD!!!!! This indeed does sound terrifying! I had a dentist like that many years ago when I lived in Oklahoma wasn't pleasant to know EXACTLY what was going to be said, and done, just as sure as a written script. The scary part is that, when I was in grad school, I also taught first and second-year medical school and dental students their immunology and microbiology courses: they ALL START OUT with that same lame-ass aura about them. Be VERY afraid!!!

At 3:09 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


LOL...I'd be willing to bet she wears her surgical scrubs to "do it" too--after a session of golden Listerine showers. Icky!

At 3:16 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


So Dr. Wank stank? What a shocker! First off, I'd shitcan that name. It reminds me of a dermatologist who had an office in my aunt's building--Dr. Blobstein.

As far as having to advertise for patients--oh yeah. There's a dermatologist in NYC named Dr. ZIZMOR who has posters plastered all over the subways, with a laundry list of all the treatments available. Thing is, he has a blurry before and after pic of a thankful patient--and the before pic looks better. Plus there's a shot of Dr. Z, and he is a scary looking dude. Yeah, his skin is smooth, but he has huge bags under his eyes and a creepy zombie smile and just doesn't look...right.

Oh yeah--I forgot about the whole nightmare scenario of molesting dentists. That sounds like a great post.

At 3:17 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yep, a little knowledge of the DSM in a crazy person's hands is a dangerous thing...

At 3:19 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thing is, BG is a very courteous person, and he tries to be super nice, esp to doctors, and never complain. He'll often tell me of someone's ineptitude, but qualify it by saying they're "nice." I always tell him: BG--that nice shit is a cover. I'm sure lots of women thought Ted Bundy was a nice fellow too, y'know? Sigh....

At 3:22 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Surly girl:

LOL...all I can say is, she'd best keep her robotic claws off my man, or I'll disconnect her components and pour all her fake Listerine down that little dental sink for good measure.

At 3:36 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Clever name! Thanks so much for your comment. I've bookmarked you and will be back. And happy b'day!

At 3:38 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


If you are the anonymous who wrote last time and urged me to cut out the soap opera crap, I thank you for helping to talk some sense into me.

If not, thanks anyway!

At 3:43 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

AriK: this a dental syndrome? But that messes with my psych diagnosis! Well, maybe people who become dentists have that disorder and are drawn to the profession.

Bizarro dental students working on you for practice...yep, that's a whole 'nother horror story.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Ha Ha Ha Very good.
The doctor is either really strange or the smartest person there.
It seems that she spends alot of time doing nothing and gets paid for it.
The scrubs well I guess thats the way she was taught and some people go by the book.
Frankly a anybody coming to work on me wearing full scrubs would get me a litle worried.
The doctor cutting the wrong leg off by mistake, well I don't care if it is true or false but I believe it. I would of shot the guy too.
lol I'm still laughing

Have a nice weekend

At 9:34 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


I think Robo-dentist should amend her goodbye to: Thank you for serving our country, and inflating my bloated salary.

Pretty amazing what some of those VA "health care professionals" get away with--where's the quality control? But if there's ever an Anthrax scare, Robo will have the last laugh. I'm sure she has a gas mask in her drawer along with the scrubs.

At 3:11 AM, Blogger Radin said...

Ohh God. Now I understand why anytime I have a tooth filled, the adjacent tooth goes wrong afterwards!? Thanks for the information. Robotic dentist having before having with her husband: "Have you ever suffered from heart complications?", "Do you use any medication?", "Do you …..?" and in the middle of action: "Now we better stop and continue in our next appointment, pull it out NOW." And I wouldn't be surprised if her husband's name was Dr. Wank.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Jelly said...

I fear that BG might have fueled some of her unusual interest by bringing in that book to show her.

(Great post.)

At 1:07 PM, Blogger elvira black said...



I never thought about the rest of the scenario (I had to stop myself before I got sick)--but I suspect you're right. Every night, out come the scrubs, the Listerine, and the checklist.

Maybe her hubby digs it, because each night is like the first night all over again. And I guess if she asks him to pull out early, that might qualify as a "temporary filling."

At 1:10 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thanks--loved your post as well.

That's BG all over--always trying to "befriend" one and all. Usually, it winds up biting him in the ass.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Reverend Z said...

My uncle as a victim? of the VA hospital system was diagnosed as schizophrenic and treated as such for more than 40 years before civilian doctors determined that he was mis-diagnosed.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Reverend Z:

OMG! Horrifying, but not surprising. I wonder--did they give him the heavy duty anti-psychotics they prescribe for schizophrenia? If so, that's even worse. Those drugs have way serious side effects.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Reverend Z said...

I lost count of all his meds... he did nothing but smoke, rock back and forth and tell the same jokes over and over.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Reverend Z:

Oy vey. I can kind of relate--except instead of rocking back and forth, I bit my fingers raw--and I didn't tell jokes. Smoking seems to be almost universal amongst the severely mentally ill.


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