Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Dare He?

Ashley had a dentist appointment this morning. The dentist is one she has seen for several years, and one who touts himself as a dentist for children with special needs. Until today, Dr. Karl had done an adequate job of caring for Ashley’s teeth even though his manner was a little brusque and rushed. But today things did not go so well. In fact, they went horribly wrong.

Ashley did not want to get into the chair to have her teeth cleaned by the assistant. But with some major ‘encouragement’ from both Amy and me, she eventually did agree and then put her head back and cooperated through the cleaning. When Dr. Karl came in, she became a bit more anxious. She didn’t want to cooperate with him, and for whatever reason, he seemed quite impatient. He spent all of thirty seconds looking at her teeth and declared she had no cavities. He then turned things back over to the assistant.

Before he left the room, I asked him about braces. I wanted a referral to an orthodontist that would take Ashley’s Medicaid insurance. He scoffed and said braces probably wouldn’t work. I agree that braces will be a challenge, but with the technical developments in recent years, I wanted to at least ask an orthodontist some questions.

Dr. Karl, however, said with a very definitive opinion that he didn’t think braces would be possible. I asked why. He said, “Well, you know, the tumors she has” referring to her three brain tumors. Then he said, “Does it really matter?” which I took to mean does it really matter if Ashley’s teeth were crooked. I stared in shocked silence as he walked out of the room.

How dare he assume that it not matter to Ashley if her teeth are pretty. How dare he assume that I should care less about the health and appearance of her teeth just because she has disabilities? I have absolutely no doubt that he wouldn’t even consider asking a 13 year old girl without disabilities if it really mattered.

I got angrier and angrier as I drove to work. I will be changing dentists for Ashley. I will be writing a letter to Dr. Karl and his partners to let them know exactly why I am leaving their practice. I sure the small amount of money he gets from Ashley will not make a difference, but I refuse to subsidize his discriminatory and insensitive attitude for one more minute.

And I will share this story with as many people as I possibly can.


mommy~dearest said...

Oooh...that would be enough to send me over the edge. Luckily, Jaysen has a great pediatric dentist- I like them more than his pediatrician...

Anonymous said...

Hi Deborah
That is absolutely totally disgusting, shocking and beyond belief. I am angry just reading it. You must have been furious and with every reason. I hope you get this sorted. Disabled or not, we are human beings and we ALL have feelings.

What a complete bars....

Crystal Jigsaw xx

Anonymous said...

Disgusting and patronizing. If it would not be too much trouble, you might send copies of your letter to the local dental society, state dental board*, the newspaper, oh and post here, too, please.
*Not so much to get a response or even an apology but to let as many people know as possible. Once I phrased such a letter in a sucky-sweet tone - dripping with sarcasm instead of anger. Embarrassment of the guy is the most you may get, as well as a better experience with someone else.

Anonymous said...

I had to comment on this. Heartbreaking. I am so sorry. I hope that you call and talk to the doctor about what he said. I have experienced similar comments in regards to braces and education. Infuriating.

Attila The Mom said...

Good for you!

Little Guy has had braces for the last two years and will be getting them off in the next few months.

Yeah, I was chastised a bit by the ortho for waiting so long, but he needed to be at a stage where he could do/understand some of the self-care himself.

I'd like to give that dentist a good old-fashioned butt kicking!

terena said...

I just had to send you a hug and offer my support. That is beyond cruel. Heartless! What an absolute moron!!!!!!!!!

Terri said...

He has to go. Gotta love people who just believe that their opinion about someone's value is actually their value.

Amazing_Grace said...

Oh, Deborah, I'm so sorry that the doctor was such an idiot. It happens all the time with all sorts of people and I never can understand how insensitive some people can be.