The morning after I arrived in Vallarta, the dental office sent an Uber to my apartment (on their dime) to pick me up and take me to the clinic for my first appointment. When I got there, things were running a little behind schedule, but because there were several dentists on staff, I was still able to be x-rayed and have impressions made of my teeth and any delay was almost unnoticeable.
The office itself was really nice. As nice as any American practice I had been to. The furniture was modern, comfortable, and in good repair, the bathroom was spotless, and there were little Buddhas placed everywhere I looked, which I thought was odd for such a Catholic country, but it made me feel peaceful and relaxed, nonetheless…which is definitely what you want in a dental office, right?
After a short wait, I had my first consultation with Doctor Melisa and her assistant Erika. The doctor informed me that the procedure I had originally come for was overkill and she felt strongly that she could help me keep some of my teeth and still give me a bright white, straight, and stunning smile without being so extreme, procedure-wise. This was my first clue that I had absolutely made the right choice in dentist. She could have easily gone ahead and performed the procedure we talked about and I would have been none the wiser. Instead, she gave me honest information about how to achieve the same results in a healthier way AND…she saved me about eight-thousand dollars in the process.
Eight. Thousand. Dollars.
Once the consultation was over, I returned to the waiting room and then, about ten minutes later, I was told that everything was ready to go and I was shown into the surgery where I met the dental assistants as well as my anesthesiologist (who came from the hospital) and his nurse. The nurse took my blood pressure and measured my blood sugar while she grilled me about any allergies and whether I was taking any recreational drugs. I told her I was allergic to mangos and not to feed me any while I was unconscious, but other than that, I was allergy free. This joke did no go over as well as I had hoped but, hey, a goofy sense of humor probably shouldn’t be my first requirement for someone who is going to keep me from dying for the next five hours, right? Right.
After my vitals checked out, the doctor asked if I was ready while the nurse found a vein and started the IV. I started to feel groggy and had just enough time to ask “Que es esto?” (What is this?) before I went sleepy bye bye.
Five and a half hours later, I woke up with a comfy blanket on me (apparently I had started to shiver from the A/C while I was under) and felt pretty good considering all the work that had been done and the amount of high grade drugs that had been coursing through my system. All-in-all, they had extracted five teeth, including two wisdom teeth, installed eight bases for implants, performed two bone grafts and a sinus lift, filled four cavities, and done one root canal. They considered grinding my teeth down and fitting temporaries in the same visit, but made the decision that I had been under long enough and wanted to wait a day to let me recover.
When I could stand, I was led to the waiting room couch and given a small cup of water and some post-op care instructions to read until I felt well enough to walk. After a short while, Erika (who is possibly the nicest person in the world) told me that she was going to drive me home and that she would help me get my prescriptions and anything else I needed on the way. This was a great comfort because I was still a little out of it and my Spanish is, putting it very generously…sub par.
We stopped at the farmacia and Erika handled the whole transaction in minutes flat. I just had to hand her pesos and be a spacey gringo which was, honestly, about all I was qualified to do at that moment. Afterward, we went to the supermarket and bought some protein drinks and soft foods (oatmeal, beans, soft tortillas, etc) for me to take home in case I didn’t feel up to leaving the apartment the next day. Ten minutes later, I was back at my apartment. I took my drugs (ibuprofen, antibiotics, a sublingual pain reliever, and a post-surgery gel), climbed in bed with double ice packs for my face, turned on Netflix and literally “chilled” until I fell asleep.