02 May 2010

Dental Clearance? And Other Tangibles

Hmm...So it would appear that I've FINALLY been granted the dental clearance that has caused me so much stress the last, oh say, two years. Truthfully, I shouldn't have put it off as long as I did, and truthfully, I probably should have taken care of it back when I had dental insurance at my old job over at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. I'm going to be in a measurable amount of debt for the foreseeable future to the parents...unfortunately. I would have had the money to take care of most of my dental expenses had I received my security deposit from my old apartment roommates in Hartsdale, NY. It was such a complicated situation and I don't feel like elaborating on it now, it will just make me angry all over again. BUT, if Susie and Frankie were truthful to me from the very beginning, and told me exactly where my security deposit was going, I wouldn't have paid it in or the monthly rent, in cash, like some idiot; and I probably would have done something more radical like withhold rent....Ha ha...Right. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

But back to my dental clearance. All they required me to do was a root canal on tooth #13 with a restoration with a full crown. I was hesitant to go the crown route back in February when I first began the treatment. A root canal is a fairly invasive procedure! They are done with the premise that there is extensive decay on or near nerves on the root of the tooth and the procedure is considered necessary to "save" the tooth. The only problem is I, the average individual has a different working definition of what constitutes a "tooth" when it comes to root canals. When I say "tooth", I'm thinking the shiny, pearly whites that I like to show off to all my friends when I'm in a good mood. But to a dentist, saving the tooth actually means saving the tooth root. This is a crucial difference because the root is actually what matters in preserving the over jaw structure of the mouth. You lose the root and you basically don't have a smile in the long run. I originally had the root canal done and restored it with filling which some people do. The only disadvantage is that it leaves your tooth susceptible to crack because you have a huge piece of filling wedged in the injured tooth and it compromises the way bite forces are distributed around the tooth. Needless to say, the Peace Corps was not going to accept that treatment plan so I had to go back and restore it with a crown (Porcelain) with requires a substantial amount of drilling away of the little amount that's left of the tooth. I completed that part of the procedure on Monday, the 26th of April and Fed-Ex'ed the X-rays and letters later that day, and just in the nick of time. My deadline for clearance was 2 May. So FINALLY, I'm done with my medical and dental work and I'm technically physically "fit" to serve, except for one small hitch, I've been informed that I need to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus. SO CLOSE!!! But it shouldn't be a problem. It's funny though, around the time when H1N1 outbreaks were making the headlines, I deliberately refused to let myself get caught up in the hoopla and hysteria that was circulating. It's ironic that I'm now being required to be vaccinated. Better safe than sorry I suppose?

I can't believe that in less than five weeks, I'll be leaving behind the comfort and convenience of Western life for something that I have romanticized about in my own head. I think my heart skips a beat when I contemplate the reality and inevitability of this novel experience I'm about to engage in. This past Friday I booked my ticket to our two and a half day staging even in D.C. from 1-3 June. We will fly out for Freetown, Sierra Leone on 3 June. Our staging event is sort of like a crash course on things to expect, our conduct as a volunteer, and meeting the other volunteers who on the surface seem excited but the majority of which, I'm willing to bet, are scared shit-less, but that's OK. Our staging will be at the:

Holiday Inn Georgetown
2101 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20007

When we land in Freetown, there is going to be a "special celebration" at the State House with a lot of publicity to follow. I've stressed in my prior post just how significant our return is and there is a lot at stake! I was told that upon our arrival in Freetown, the Government of Sierra Leone will take our shirt sizes in order to make us traditional African garments. Luckily for me I own a few already that I plan on bringing with me to help facilitate the tailoring of any new garments I may want. Our training will be 10 weeks long and will be in Bo, Sierra Leone. Most, if not all volunteers I think, will be residing with host families during this time. There are so many things that I still need to do! I still don't have my packing list finalized, I have paperwork to complete still (Insurance for my valuables, Pen-pal programs), vaccines to get, and to top it all off, my laptop monitor quit working so now I have to get it fixed, although I'm hoping I wont have to pay anything since this is a problem other Mac users have had. I need to stop complaining and get to work.

On an unrelated note, I'm very happy to hear that we will be getting bicycles once we are posted to our work sites!

More to come...


Susan said...

Good luck, Ikenna! You definitely sound prepared, and I hope your medical and dental stuff is finally all done. Have a wonderful time and I look forward to following your adventures in Salone!