Things I Say

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Things I Say

Post: # 11003Post Garrett Gilchrist
Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:05 pm

Distant smoke blotted out the sun yesterday. On the bright side, it ended this four-month heat wave, on a day where I spent hours outside.

There's a dentist on my street. Easy walking distance. Before the pandemic, I had a series of appointments there, using free low-income Medi-Cal insurance to try to fix anything wrong with my teeth.

There was a lot wrong. Eventually I was following coronavirus rules and taking a risk to keep going there.

I didn't like this dentist much. They became overly concerned when I'd be understandably anxious after painful hours in the chair. I needed more topical anesthetic than they applied, at first, and it would wear off after awhile.

They told me that Medi-Cal wouldn't cover everything, and suggested work that I'd have to pay $3000 for.

I've never paid $3000 for anything in my life, not directly. My monthly rent is $500, or about $750 with the two storage units I still have. I don't have much in the way of monthly income. I do make at least $500 every month from Youtube ads and Patreon donations (thanks guys), since late 2018 anyway.

I was demonetized on Youtube for several months in June 2019 and July 2020 (and am still demonetized now), so that's not steady either.

I didn't know what to do. I felt I was being ripped off. I wondered if I could just put the dental debt aside, with my other debts.

I had one tooth done, for about $560 as I recall. I had to pay cash, right then and there.

I paid, but didn't come back to that place again.

I hunted around for any other local dentist who would take Medi-Cal. There weren't many, and most weren't answering their phones in the early days of the pandemic.

But the work that my dentist had done was temporary, and unfinished, and not intended to stay in my mouth for six months. It was, by that point, starting to hurt noticeably at times, like an open wound. And it looked like someone had just covered one tooth with glue.

So the three back teeth on my lower right jaw were worrying me. The silver fillings weren't very aesthetic either.

I'd kept the name of one dentist around, who I hadn't been able to call in April. I scheduled an appointment, hoping that my Medi-Cal would cover this, and that I wouldn't get stuck with a bill for thousands.

They were an hour's walk away. We've had hundred degree days for months, and this would have been hell even a week ago, but it was a cool day, and the walk was not a problem. But, it seemed, it was cool due to the smoke blotting out the sun on the other side of the mountains. On my way back, later, I could even smell the smoke.

I'd never walked so far in that direction. I passed shops and malls which had been abandoned for at least half a year, with the virus.

I was only about five minutes late. I was on my phone, and pretended that was the reason.

They had me fill out paperwork electronically. They'd gotten my name wrong. I stopped to look up information on my phone for about thirty seconds, and the iPad shut itself off. They told me to forget about that, and just click "yes" on various documents stating that, to my knowledge, I did not have coronavirus, and have accepted that by going to a dental office I am currently at elevated risk of getting coronavirus right now.

I was worried about that already, of course. I felt fine at the moment, but there are between two and four other people here, and I've seen them preparing Theraflu and heard coughing.

I haven't felt great either, though it might just be stress. I legitimately feel ill as I'm typing this, but it might just be the stress of ... what happened yesterday.

I remember not being very friendly at first, but the staff there put my mind at ease after awhile, one staff member in particular.

They X-rayed those three teeth. The temporary white glue-like filling definitely had to go. But he also felt that the silver fillings on either side were bad, pointing out what he said were fractures. "Not to criticize the work of another dentist, but ..."

I said I'd just had those fillings done and they seemed fine then.

He said you might need a root canal underneath that, and in theory you need crowns for all three. If it's a root canal I'd need to come back in a month after insurance approved it.

I didn't particularly feel like walking all this way again.

I had gotten silver composite fillings at the other place- They told me that my insurance could almost certainly have covered the white kind, but the dentist probably didn't want to pay for that out of their own pocket.

I felt like I was at a better dentist. I hoped I wasn't going to get ripped off.

They told me that the free Medi-Cal insurance, which is terrible, is still better than a lot of insurance they get here. But that it wouldn't cover my molars. Only front teeth.

She became emotional saying this, agreeing with me that this is bullshit and that health care should be free. But that's just the way it is here.

They handed me a bill for $2000. That, again, is probably more than I've ever spent on anything, and more than I've ever earned.

They said that was already discounted by seven hundred dollars, but that I would have to pay for these three crowns out of my own pocket.

I covered my face with my hands. I didn't know what to say. I blanked.

The finance woman said, do you need more time to think about this?

I said, realistically I would need to leave here, think about this for a week and come back, and talk it over with other people, to have any perspective on what I'm about to do. But that's not what's going to happen. I said I'm not in any state of mind right now to make a decision about this, that isn't just a snap decision. So I'll just have to make a snap decision and say yes.

They said that if I didn't do this now, they wouldn't be able to save my teeth later.

I got my stimulus check for the coronavirus, months ago. I had the money. I didn't want to spend the money. I don't think that in a civilized country we should have to lose every cent we have on routine medical procedures.

But technically speaking, I had the money.

And I spent it. They ran my debit card.

In advance, while not knowing if we'd be doing this today or in a month.

I am certain, in retrospect, that I'd spent more than I would have at the other dentist.

I had a very small breakdown, realizing that this was worse than my worst case scenario at the other dentist, the one I'd been avoiding for almost half a year.

They were a little baffled that I'd walked an hour to get there. But it wasn't hot, and was about twice my usual walk to get groceries.

But because of that, they tried to accomodate me and get everything done in one day.

They drilled my teeth for hours, removing the work of the previous dentist, which I'd probably paid $560 for. As with the previous dentist, they didn't numb me enough at first and I confidently asked for more. As with the previous dentist, they decided that I didn't need a root canal, and that they could proceed with creating three crowns.

By hour seven and a half the anesthetic was wearing off and the entire right side of my mouth was very sore. The actual teeth were sending out shockwaves of pain and it was torture to keep my mouth open, which they accomplished with a rubber stopper. I was shaking uncontrollably and having serious trouble breathing. I expressed my pain vocally as best I could, but they kept saying "We know, we know, we're almost done." I couldn't speak otherwise. I understood that we all needed to power through and get this done, but I also couldn't breathe.

I finally got the rubber stopper out of my mouth and was able to rest for a moment, and try to clear my throat and nose so that I could breathe again. I was shaking uncontrollably. I'd gone completely white and my body temperature was very low. "I just need to have a panic attack for a moment," I said. "I'm in a lot of pain and I can't fucking breathe." "I'll be okay, I just need to go home. I'm really sore and I just need this to be done with."

And they were basically done at that point. They needed to clean the glue out of my mouth and get some X-rays done, but I couldn't stop shaking. Whatever they got would have to be good enough.

They handed me some cookie/cereal bars to get my blood sugar back up, and gave me three Advil for the pain.

They were concerned, and a dentist wrote me a prescription for some serious pain medication, and said to go to a CVS or Rite Aid immediately. I said, where?

He was baffled by that. He said, they're everywhere. You can Google it.

Well, they're not, is the problem. I'd walked an hour to get there, and there aren't any CVS or Rite Aids along that route. In fact there aren't any, anywhere along that route, unless you walk two more hours.

If you have a car, it's not a concern. If you don't, well ...

I didn't get that pain medication. I did get four cans of soda, and two bottles of mouthwash, and root beer flavored drink mix, and a can of Pringles which had a dent in it, and whose contents had therefore been stale for months.

I passed a lot of closed and boarded-up businesses, and restaurants which are currently drive-through only. I haven't been to a restaurant since this started. Pretty much for the entire year. I eat the same foods over and over again, and find myself craving something like Taco Bell, if only for an occasional change of pace.

A couple weeks earlier, I walked five miles to Wal-Mart and they weren't selling most of the stuff I normally buy anymore, like water filters, taco bowls and apple flavoring. I was even told that the entire Electronics department is, at this point, just for display.

Two days earlier I'd been to the local grocery store, and they were no longer selling some of the things I buy. Regular things like diet cola and personal pizzas.

I could see and smell smoke in the distance, which had blotted out the sun all day. A range of mountains separates us from the fires, and I hope that'll be enough.

I almost walked another two hours to get to a CVS or Rite Aid (which appear to be on the same block), but started to feel very ill, very close to my own home, so I didn't.

I ate, eventually.

The whole thing took about nine hours and cost me two thousand dollars.

I got home, exhausted, and had some Tylenol.

I'd written to the California unemployment office, and I got that letter back undelivered, because the United States Post Office is being dismantled in an attempt to throw the election to Trump.

I usually get $200/month food benefits, which got cancelled early in the year because the worker "just had some questions" about my work as a freelancer and was "confused." If there's any question about anything you get denied. After a months-long fight I was able to get them reinstated by giving up and reapplying entirely. After another six months my benefits were cancelled because the worker noticed that another worker "just had some questions" about my work as a freelancer six months ago and was "confused."

I am not complaining about this specific dentist. I believe I got better, if more expensive, treatment, there than I would have gotten elsewhere. But I've never spent $2000 in my life on anything. I have legitimate health issues that, even before the pandemic, I never dealt with in any way because as a freelance artist and filmmaker I will never in my life have "real" health insurance. I will simply get handed a bill for more money than I've ever earned or spent in my entire life, and be told to make a decision now or else.

They'd said that if I didn't do this now, they wouldn't be able to save my teeth later.

Thanks to the bad President Donald Trump, deaths from coronavirus in the US have exceeded two hundred thousand.

Today I feel sick. Sore throat, cold symptoms. I hope it's not the virus.

Even on a good day, I am exhausted all the time and need real medical, dental and mental health care that I will never be able to get in the United States of America.

Maybe I just have some questions too. Maybe I'm just confused about how we allow this.

Somewhere over the mountains, California is on fire.

My mouth hurts.

“I would like to extend my best wishes to all, even the haters and losers, on this special date, September 11th.” - Donald Trump, 2013

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Things I Say

Post: # 11007Post Garrett Gilchrist
Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:40 pm

Comment to a friend:

I'm reminded of an old comedy sketch by Eric Idle of Monty Python, who tended to give women much lesser roles in his work. David is reading and says "Do you realize we've been repressing women for two thousand years?" Terence says "And I'm only forty-six." David then apologizes to Gwen for repressing her for two thousand years.

Sometimes it seems harder to not be a complete shithead, and be a regular human being with empathy for other people.

I think there's a lot of pressure, in our society, to take personal responsibility for what are actually larger systemic problems. A lot of people feel politically powerless right now, but have to read about how rich, powerful men abused women for their entire careers.

If you were born a white guy, you were born into a race which repressed women and people of color for thousands of years, and is still very actively doing so. If you're following the news every day, you see the results of that. The death and the destruction of lives.

And, personally, you have no control over that. You're not running the world, and you're not to blame for it. You can only control yourself.

So we try to be better than that, every day. To treat people better and use whatever political power and platform we have to advocate for others, and for a better, more empathetic world.

It often seems like a losing proposition, since the world seems to be plunging into further hate and fascism at a rapid rate.

But if you care about other people, there are more caring people on this earth than there are the other kind.

Fascists know that too. That's why they try to hijack people's concern for other people (or for themselves) and turn it into something evil.

I wish you all a lot of luck, and I hope we all have a better 2021.

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Things I Say

Post: # 11008Post Garrett Gilchrist
Mon Sep 14, 2020 3:16 pm

JK Rowling is a psychotic anti-LGBT and racist bigot who should be shunned and expelled from polite society. So should her dumb books about wizard people ... 3836655617 ... 8575923202

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Things I Say

Post: # 11014Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:01 pm

After being demonetized as stolen content for no reason in July (and a year earlier), my Youtube account has been remonetized after appeal. It's likely I could have fixed this a month earlier if I'd noticed earlier. (I still received a check in July so did not notice immediately).

During the pandemic I've had no traditional income and took time off for personal projects (which I didn't get far enough on), so it's tough.

I was relying on that income.

At the end of last year I was cheated out of about $6000 and lost another maybe $1000+ from Youtube and etc in the middle.

The events of this month probably cost me around $3000.

Combine that, and I don't make that much in a year ...

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: Things I Say

Post: # 11053Post Garrett Gilchrist
Wed Oct 21, 2020 10:22 pm

It is incredible how the conservatives and centrists who lecture you about "being independent and taking personal responsibility for your own actions" are the most privileged people, who have never had to do that, even for a moment. Poor people have to take their lives into their own hands daily.

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