Today was busy, and devoid of nature, and I ate several random, stupid things, and now as I sit at the end of it with my healthy, well-balanced dinner, I have a cautionary tale for you.
Allopathic doctors do not have your best interests in mind.
They are a product of the pharmaceutical industry and they do not care about you. They think you are stupid, and that you have no original thoughts, and that you are incapable of critical thinking. They do not trust you to take care of your own body. I do not trust them, and so it is a mutual trustlessness. We circle each other, the doctor with her big red dusty book, and me in my paper dress. I want to claw them like a feral, cornered cat, when they will not give me the exact drug that my naturopath recommended (but cannot prescribe), when they tell me that something new and abnormal “Is just part of my anatomy”, when they constantly interrupt me and roll their eyes and then charge me hundreds of dollars. I want to yowl and claw them and tear their eyes out and then run away and hide in the woods where I am safe and no-one can ever find me. I’ll start a militia with the Barefoot bandit and we’ll live off huckleberries and make clothes out of cedar. We’ll grow our own herbs and stage raids on hospitals for medical supplies and set up clandestine clinics where treatment is free. We’ll write catchy songs with anti-pharmaceutical industry lyrics and spread our propaganda on the internet until everyone is free, and then we’ll break the internet.
I saw the dentist today. My left bottom wisdom tooth has been impacted for about a hundred years, and yesterday it finally decided to become infected. This is amazing because as of three weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I have health insurance, on account of starting school. So today I called the dental clinic and they gave me an appointment right away, so that I could be seen before the infection spread to my neck and suffocated me. So I rushed through breakfast (fried eggs and corn tortillas rolled into tacos, dripping yolk all over my fingers) and biked to school as fast as I could. In the dentist’s office the assistant put a lead apron on me and x-rayed my head and made me bite on pieces of sharp plastic and then left me in the chair, looking out the nice window at the nice tree with its nice leaves turning orange-ish. The dentist came clacking in her heels and smiled gently at me while she washed her hands. She had a soft thin face and her jewelry glimmered modestly. She stuck her metal scraper in my mouth and tapped at each one of my precious, steadfast teeth.
“There are so many cavities.” She said. “You have cavities all around your fillings and bigger cavities on the other side where you don’t have fillings. We can go ahead and set up a treatment plan to get all of these cavities filled.”
There was a picture of a tree on the ceiling. This is why my university is called “the greenest university”, I thought. Because, in the dentist’s office, there is a picture of a tree on the ceiling.
“No,” I said. “I just want to get the wisdom tooth out.” Then I told her that in January, when I have money, I plan on paying someone almost all of it to remove the amalgam fillings that I already have.
Her dainty metal pick stopped in mid-air.
“Why would you want to do that?” she asked.
“Because,” I said, “exposure to mercury, even in small amounts, contributes to long-term chronic digestive problems, and I have long-term chronic digestive problems, and the number one source of mercury exposure is amalgam fillings, which begin to wear slightly as they age.”
Her mouth scrunched up, wrinkling her pale lipstick, as if she had smelled something bad. Fear crept through me as I realized that I had broken one of the most ancient taboos of western medicine- Thou shalt not challenge thy medical professional.
“Then, after that, I’m going to get composite fillings,” I said. “the white ones. That don’t have metal.”
“Well,” she said, as she set down her pick. “as long as you’re well informed of the drawbacks to those fillings…”
“I know that they don’t last as long,” I said. “I know that having your mercury fillings removed can expose you to more mercury than if you just left them in, if you don’t go to a dentist who specializes in that sort of thing. I’ve done lots of research.”
The dentist grimaced, but just barely. I was obviously insane, ranting about nothing. Another lunatic who thinks they know something, just because they read it on the internet, or heard it from lots of other people who had the same experience, when everyone knows that all fact about the human body comes shooting people full of chemicals in giant, pharmaceutical-backed clinical studies. The dentist frowned absurdly and returned the pick to my mouth. She was no longer cheerily ushering me into the land of oral health. She was enduring.
After confirming that my mouth was riddled with cavities, the dentist handed me an antibiotic prescription for the inflammation in my wisdom tooth.
“This will help with the pain until your extraction.” she said.
“I don’t think I’ll take that.” I said. “The extraction is on Saturday, I think I can make it three days without needing an antibiotic.”
The dentist set her jaw and looked at me strangely.
“Infection in lower wisdom teeth can spread very rapidly.” She said gently. “Infection can enlarge the glands and interfere with swallowing and, ultimately, breathing.” The dentist swung the tray away and removed my paper bib. I thought of the time, two and half years ago, when my other lower wisdom tooth had become infected. At the time I was living in a yurt on the Olympic peninsula and I had no money. The tooth was swollen and painful, I could barely chew, and when I squeezed the gum, yellow puss came out. I mixed a few drops of tea tree oil in a glass of water, on advice from Allie, my land-mate, who’d done it once on a bike trip, and gargled with the mixture twice a day. The puss disappeared, and then the swelling and the pain. I kept the infection entirely at bay for six months, until I finally had the money to see a dentist.
I didn’t tell the dentist this.
The rest of the day was unremarkable. I hadn’t packed a lunch and so ate underwhelming, expensive foods from around my school- a weird food bar that was made from oats and raisins mashed up, bland sushi, beans and rice with an anti-climactic scoop of guacamole. When I finally got home at eight I made dinner, green beans sautéed in bacon fat (YUM) and pinto beans and risotto rice, and I made up a tea-tree mixture, and I swished it around in my mouth. Now it is night and cold and I am going to make a fire in my woodstove, again, from the pile of scrap wood outside my cottage, and then I am going to sit next to it, and listen to it crackle. And while I sit there I am going to think of people, of humans, of how wonderful and smart and clever and good we are. And I am going to think about all of the knowledge that we have, knowledge that goes back thousands and thousands of years. And it is knowledge that is written down and passed down from one person to the next but it is also knowledge that is inside of us, that we have with us always, that is stronger than anything. And if there is one thing that we can trust, it should be that.