Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I was just thinking today how my rampant crush on my endodontist was becoming a little awkward. I've spent so much time with the man, since well before Thanksgiving now, up close and personal. He's very, very adorable, hilarious, personable, and really cares about his patients. (We've had a few heart to hearts about how my teeth ended up in such a state and he seriously believes I've been wronged in many instances that could have prevented it, and expressed sincere compassion and willingness to help me seek legal action should I choose to).

We've also had some extremely funny days where we've just laughed about stupid stuff or talked about books we've read. ANd did I mention he's cute? Persian, dark hair, with big giant blue eyes. Ach.

He's also brilliant at what he does, and gives top of the line care. ( I ask 7 million and 1 questions about everything, including all this equipment he has, and what it's for, and he always patiently explains. He says some endos don't bother to do it like he does- he uses sonar to detect the end of the root and fill it- pretty high tech. He also takes an xray before, during and after he's done just to check everything, and makes sure to show them to me, and again, explain. ) I was even in the chair once with my mouth all jacked open like a car undercarriage when the nurse on duty made some quip about how Medical didn't pay for crap and they didn't really recoup what was spent. He agreed with her, but shot back, "Sometimes it's more than about money. Right, Jessica?" and he patted me on the arm (I grunted in agreement). It touched me that he bothered to at least make me feel better when she said that, and continues to do such great work without much financial reward.
He did his residency in STL, even, so we have lots in common......and as I've mentioned, married. He's a newlywed ( just last year) . He clearly loves his wife, alot, as he mentions her all the time. My sheer by-the-fingernails grip is what has been holding me together during recent these times when I was totally half in the bag from the sedation and my ethics were feeling a little lost in the fog of benzodiazapenes. God forbid, I probably would have made a pass at him ( thought about it, frequently, for sure). Ironically, I probably would lose all respect for him if he EVER responded back, being that he IS married....damn these Catch -22s!

He made a comment last week that next week would be our last appointment and that "we've developed quite a special bond". I couldn't stand it and made light of it. But I'm pondering getting him a book or something just to thank him for the quality work he's done ( wink).

I missed him by a year. Alas. My family isn't Jewish, but I can hear my mom now, "You coulda married a doctah!!" LOL!

So this was my last appoinment with him today, and it was a little sad. I'm SOOOOOO not sad to have the root canals end, but I SO looked forward to seeing him every week or so. My appointment today was a little rocky- it was a big molar in the back upper right on the top, just about the toughest spot for him to get to, and it hurt, and I didn't take enough meds at first, and I needed a two extra shots, and so on and so forth. Nonetheless, it was still fun- how is that possible? We talked about tattoos,which led to movies ( "Memento"- an obvious transition), which led to more movies ( "The Prestige" because it was made by the same director) . Was he looking forward to going to Cancun for his birthday ( a surprise from his wife) , what she did ( she's a pediatric dentist), and how she coughed so hard from a cold last she threw her back out in the middle of traffic and she called him crying, because she couldn't even move the car, and how he had to go get her, pick her up, move her and take her to the chiro all day....and the whole time I'm thinking, "HOW GREAT IS THIS GUY??? He's funny and smart and devoted to his wife....." Ach.

Then he said something funny about how his friend and he were talking about how hard they worked in dental school and oughta let loose now ( this of course was interjected by me and the dental tech trying to convince him to go get a big tattoo- "like a molar on your bicep! That'd be so tough!!"). I said I worked really hard in school too, and didnt do alot of fun stuff, either, blah,blah, and he said, "What is your degree in?"
I gave him this look like "Dude, you don't know by now???"
He started guessing- off the mark.
I said, "Oh man, I am so disappointed." And then I told him-
"OH YEAH! We've talked about that!!"
I said, "Yes," mock-coldly, and then muttered, "jackass" in jest.
He almost doubled over, laughing. He said, "Well, you know. Our familiarity here is completely on a different level. I give you a tooth sensitivity test and tell you to raise your hand, and you're hitting me instead. ( Not true, thank you!) What next?"
I said, "I just won't even call you Dr M____ anymore. I'll just call you by your first name. "
"Which is?" ( He has an uncommon, hard to pronounce Persian name.)
" P_____"
"OHMMY GOD, you even pronounced it correctly!!! I have to tell you, when I was growing up, they called me all these things......"

And so it went.

When he was finally done, he said:
"Well, Jessie ( "Who told you my friends call me Jessie?" "Oh, it's just a guess.") you're done. You did great. I'm going to miss you a little. "
I said I would miss him, too, and gave him a hug, and said, "I hope I never have to see you professionally again."
He answered, "Yeah! I get that! I hope I run into you out in the world somewhere."
I said "Me too."
He patted me on the shoulder and said, "You're a good person."

He walked me upfront, and the nurses said, "Has she graduated?" He answered, "Indeed she has."
He was writing out his business card for me ( he always forgets I have his cell for emergencies). In the pause while he was writing, I said, "Well, if you ever want to get coffee and catch up...." ( I do NOT know what gave me enough chutzpah to say THAT! The drugs, probably.)
And he stopped me short ( maybe because the nurses were listening) and said, "My email is on here. Drop me a line, let me know how you're doing."

And I left.


NO, I am not going to go after a married man, and NO, I don't think he was hitting on me. I get a very strong impression he adores his wife. And I don't DO that, so THERE. That said:

I do think that it would be lovely to develop a friendship outside of him digging around in my teeth. I'm semi-sure that that was what he meant by giving me his email, although he could have just been interested in hearing about how things are progressing dentally and concerning this possible lawsuit. I won't abuse it, that's for sure. I'm far too terrified of doing the wrong thing or misinterpreting a kind gesture as an invitation to potential friendship, especially with MY hearts-in-my-eyes mindset. If I have to yank myself back by my own hair and yell " Keep it in perspective!!! Be appropriate!!! Appropriate!!!" to myself, I will.

It's always tenuous bridging that gap between doctor/patient or teacher/student, even in a potential friendship thing. First of all, there's all these ethics involved. I've determined through much deliberation --started many, many years ago when I had a terrible crush on a teacher of mine, who seemed like he really wanted to be my friend-- that it in part has to be iniated by the person with less authority, or else it smacks of exploitation. Whether it is or not is no matter. It's just those kinds of dynamics are hard to negotitate, and if the more vulnerable party starts first, and the other person responds in kind with respect and genuine interest with boundaries that are clear, it can work. It's a smooth transition when that inital hump is over, but getting over it is totally weird and risky and fraught with questions.

I know it can be done- my friendship with R is a prime example ( R, feel free to offer any advice here!!!). R was a teacher of mine in a film class and we became friends right after. It was a bit of an oddly ideal situation, though, so it was far easier than it was with other people in the same sitch I ended up pals with. It went like this: I had just gotten out of the bin about, oh, 6 weeks prior, and I had to go back to school to get my funding to well, erm, live, so dropping out wasn't an option. ( In retrospect it was the best thing for my self-esteem and mental health at the time; it reassured me that I still could use my intellect and helped me focus on external things). I couldn't handle, however, too many taxing requirements of academia, as I would have been totally overwhelmed mentally. So I went to R and said, "Listen, I've been really sick, and I'm taking these new meds that leave me a little jumbled. I don't think I can write these weekly papers you're asking. What can we do? I want to do the work. Can I meet you weekly for an oral review?"
R in a creative moment of inguenity said, "Why don't you tape your thoughts on the films weekly? I'll listen to them and given you a written comments page. "

This worked brilliantly, because god knows I can wax on and on about things for longer than a 60 minute tape. And so we had this whole conversation going, in a way, on a different level than other students. As R once said to me " I had you all to myself, and could listen to your ideas and thoughts." And when the class ended, we became friends, and it persists to this day.

It's funny, because that same semester I had a class with a prof I'd taken many times before in the Religion department. When I told him the same problem, he asked what had happened, and because I knew him better, I told him. This led to this whole private discussion on the nature of depression, existential despair, medication, loss, faith, and lots of other things ( he was going through a divorce at the time and was taking meds himself).

I never did end up close pals with Mr. Sexy Prof, but I do occasionally email him now and again, and he's a great resource for all things. I did, however, get to be great friends with his collegue, and peer, who used to invite us over to swim, and meet his partner and dog, and all sorts of fun things. I miss him.

So, I'm running on.....bottom line, I'm going to miss Cute Endo, and I hope it's not the last I see of him. I can't force that transition into friendship, but I can make appropriate forays into openings he's given.

For one, I thought I'd get him something to thank him for all the time he's spent on my case, because it hasn't been easy. I bought him Curious George Goes to The Dentist, because I thought he'd get a laugh out of that, and his wife would appreciate it, too. Then I got him a little book by Rachel Remen, MD, Thoughts From "Kitchen Table Wisdom", beause it has alot about compassion and healing, and I figured I'd write something in there about how he has a good handle on both, and he might find it inspiring.

I think he'll like it. And that's my overture. And I'll leave it at that.

SO weird trying to court friends when you're older. Especially ones in a professional setting. Not to mention ones you have raging crushes on and you constantly have to remind yourself that their emotional orientation toward you is NOT the same as yours toward them.

Still, I remain hopeful. It would be nice. He's a lovely person.

And who knows? Maybe he has a friend who is single and cut from the same cloth. You never know.

*Sigh*. Unique situation. Long day. Weird day. And so I put a period on it and crawl into bed with my painkillers and my heating pad, and rejoice that this part, at least, is finally done, and we move on to parts both known ( crowns!) and unknown ( everything I've mentioned so far).

Blessings on all of that. Amen.