Thursday, September 12, 2013

Part 1: The Dental Visit and the Afternoon / Evening After; Part 2: Next Day Belgian Bistro Dinner -OR- The Two-Part Blog Entry

The steps of the row house at 1337 21st Street NW Washington, D.C., 3:14PM September 11, 2013.

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OK, the first part of this entry is a recounting of my Wednesday, September 11th (yes, September 11th), 2013 and my dental visit for a necessary tooth extraction of a botched crown / bad crown and my subsequent gad about. I wrote that part yesterday but simply could not finish it.

The pictures accompanying it were taken on September 11th and are posted sequentially, although NOT in relation to the actual entry content.

The second part recounts my Thursday including dinner with LP and Kristof at a Belgian bistro called Sur La Place located in the Palisades section here in D.C. Also, for the record, I initially / momentarily posted this at 1153PM September 12th, 2013 just so it would have a September 12th calendar date. The actual posting was around 115AM September 13th.

Apropos of the Belgium connection above: A picture of the truly bizarre Atomium in Brussels.

One of these days I need to relate my deeply emotional experience as a 9 year old looking at the Atomium disappearing behind the clouds while taking off in a 747 (Sabena Airlines*!) on a steep, curving, rapid ascent from Brussels (Zaventem) Airport. 

It was September 5, 1979, and I was heading back to JFK Int'l Airport (just ahead of Hurricane David). I was a 9 year old boy looking out the window trying not to let everyone see how much I was crying -- going from one parent to the next. Phew.

*The American joke was it stood for "Such A Bad Experience, Never Again." Ha ha.

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Part I: September 11, 2013

This day was a weirdly mixed, somewhat physically painful, but overall good kind of day (dental extraction-related pain notwithstanding).

For starters, I had the extraction of tooth #14 and its badly decayed crown and (now so apparent) botched root canal that contributed to the series of periodontal abscesses (gum infections) I have had in the past three years, and even to sinus infection of late. I'm just amazed the root canal -- which failed owing to the failure to do the procedure in all the actual canals of this maxillary molar -- lasted as long as it did.

Yours truly in my apt., Washington, D.C., 2:18PM Sept. 11, 2013.

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Dr. John Tsaknis -- that's my dentist, the fellow with whom I was friends a full 18 years* or so ago at the University of Maryland, College Park -- explained that I basically had a dark, sealed cave favorable to anaerobic bacteria inside the crown as a result of a poorly done root canal.

In addition, given the statistical odds for successfully REDOING a root canal, the odds were not that good for saving the tooth and its crown. Again, I kind of figured this is where things were going.


The part that was new was hearing specifically how and why the root canal had been done badly.

*He remembered me as soon as we met ("I remember you, yes ... Hair is grayer but you look the same and same mannerisms.")

As for the amount of time that had gone by -- 18 years -- think of it this way, "I'll see you again on some random day in the year 2031."

1600 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 2:51PM September 11, 2013.

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In short, Dr. Lawrence Singer ("THE OFFICIAL DENTIST OF THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS CHEERLEADERS!") -- who did the original crown on #14 in 2002 or 2003 -- was right to recommend when I went to see him in 2010 total extraction. However, his point-blank insistence that he had to do an implant at $5,000 and for which I would have to take out some sort of special credit card (pending credit approval) that would result in his being paid immediately prompted me to return to The Washington Dental Studio / Dr. William Ebbs, the dentist who had done at least one of my other two crowns also back in 2002 or 2003. (Dr. Singer's office manager came into the room and tried some ridiculous spiel about, "We're you're family here ...," except even she didn't believe it.)

Instead, Dr. Ebbs told me that his office could perform the root canal followed by a re-crowning. This is what I did in 2010, except not only was there a reinfection during this time -- because I didn't have enough money to pay for the permanent and so had to keep on the temp for at least twice as long as usual, until I simply pulled it off and started taking some left-over antibiotics I had at the time -- but the root canal itself was not done properly. There were portions of the molar's roots that were never filled, leaving a "dark cave" favorable to anaerobic bacteria growth. I'm amazed I made it through 3 years until a problem started.

The bar at TGI Friday's, Washington, D.C., 3:54PM Sept. 11, 2013.

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Furthermore, when I went back to Dr. Ebbs' office, I was just put on amoxicillin with no revisiting of the main issue. Instead, the office started demanding that I do a "scaling and planing" (deep cleaning) procedure that would cost me $1,7000 out of pocket on the basis that I had periodontal disease. The woman who performed it read out the millimeters of recession, and virtually all were 4 or higher (reaching as high as 7*) -- anything over 3 is considered bad. I agreed verbally to do the procedure, even setting up a payment schedule, of which I made the first $293 payment. But then I changed my mind. However, I was sufficiently uncertain of the office's business practices that I cancelled the debit card and got a new 16 digit ATM card number.

Exterior of TGI Friday's, Washington, D.C., 4:59PM Sept. 11, 2013.

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When I returned for a follow-up visit in late July due to the ongoing gum infection, Dr. Ebbs agreed that I should hold off on the procedure. But the next thing you know, the office manager is in there trying to talk me into it AND then the dental hygienist comes it preparing to DO the procedure (two weeks ahead of what had been scheduled). That's when I got out of the chair.

*For the record, Dr. Tsaknis completely disagreed with this assessment. He said my gums were just fine. inspected my teeth. Indeed, he got irritated when he heard of the "analysis" from Dr. Ebbs' office.

By the way, the Yelp reviews indicate I am not the only one who experienced this type of treatment at The Washington Dental Studio.

The view looking north up 21st Street from Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 5:01PM September 11, 2013.

It was sunny and blazing hot at that point (around 92F).

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Basically, Dr. Ebbs is a decent general dentist and seems to be a nice person -- I always had a good rapport with him and he even called me back once when I had his cellphone number during the gum abscess episode in 2010 associated with the temporary crown -- and& he has a clean and professional looking operation. Nevertheless, the office business practices that he has allowed to come into existence is not something that I can tolerate as a patient -- and so therefore I am no longer a patient there.

I'm also miffed at the nearly $1,400 or so I spent on a root canal / re-crowning was wasted. Furthermore, it is HIGHLY unlikely I will ever get refund on the $293 (or at this point, $254 after a follow-up visit that should have been free given the infection I had). If I do get a refund, I want it as a check. I'm not giving his office my new ATM card number.

In the end, short of a costly and difficult legal battle, there is really nothing I can do, though I may inquire again about the refund (I think I'll just send a polite letter -- that's really the only thing that MIGHT work). 

Exterior fence around the Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School along 21st Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:05PM September 11, 2013.

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Let me end on a good note, though: Dr. Ebbs' office IMMEDIATELY emailed over all my X-rays to Dr. Tsaknis' office while I was there (that could have easily NOT happened), which saved me some money. (I suspect they'll say sending that email cost $254 and that will be that, balance now $0.)

Regardless, I am happy with Dr. Tsaknis (I call him John, since that's how I knew him) and will return to him. So maybe I should just leave it at that.

Before I departed, Dr. Tsaknis talked through a series of other treatments I should and/or could get, and taking into account my finances and time to reload my FSA card.

The pedestrian promenade area between 21st and 20th Streets NW and L and M Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 5:20PM September 11, 2013.

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After the procedure, around 11AM, I left his office and made my way (gauze in mouth to stop any residual blood. Dr. Tsaknis has two offices -- one at D and 7th Street NW and another on Massachusetts Avenue at 12th Street NW. I was at the D and 7th office. I left and headed over to Metro Center. This route took me past the McDonald's at 911 E Street NW -- on 9/11! -- across the street from the ghastly J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building.

This is the place where in 1984 when I was 14 years old - yes, that long ago -- where I went with my mom (having come from Glen Burnie, Md., into D.C. (which was a very different city back then) to see a play at the National Theatre on an April spring day) and I heard the all-time best (and VERY IMPRESSIVE) QUADRUPLE NEGATIVE when I gave the cashier a $5 and she had no $1 bills (and here "Cornelius" refers to the restaurant manager):

"COR-NEE-LYUS! COR-NEE-LYUS! DOAN' NOBODY AIN'T GOT NO WUNZ?!?"

I took the Metro to Dupont Circle and filled my prescription for Vicodin and Motrin at the Dupont CVS pharmacy, and then I went to the Safeway to grocery shop and then home. It was a hot, sunny day with temps reaching about 94F and dew points around 72F. It's too flippin' hot and we need some rain.

Yours truly at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington, D.C., 5:44PM September 11, 2013. I stopped in there kinda groggy on two glasses of white wine and the Vicodin for the dental procedure. It was the 530PM shortened weekday mass and very pleasant inside.

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As for the rest of my afternoon, I walked peripatetically to Washington Circle / Foggy Bottom, first picking up my prescription at the Dupont CVS. I went to the TGI Friday's, where I ended up having a really nice time sitting at the bar. I had a quite tasty Cobb salad (with surprisingly fresh lettuce) and an iced tea ... as well as a beer and then two glasses of white wine. This created a weird effect with the Vicodin and Motrin I had taken. It was a weird effect as I walked toward home of hot sunlight, white wine, and whacked out on those two painkillers. Oh, yes, there was a bit of a southerly breeze.

I detoured to No. 9, where I had another two drinks (two for one) and then came home.

The interior basilica dome of St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington, D.C., 5:55PM September 11, 2013.

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Oh, yes, between TGI Friday's and No. 9, I stopped at St. Matthew's Cathedral for the 530PM mass. (I often walk past St. Matthew's on my way to the gym, the YMCA, at 17th and Rhode Island Ave. NW, but it is usually well past the mass and the place is closed.) It was quite peaceful. When I left, there was the usual gauntlet of panhandling guys standing at the bottom of the steps. However, there was this lady who is there ALL the time -- and who has been in /around the place at least since the mid-1990s (as I personally remember) and significantly longer than that.

I spoke to her for about 10 minutes and gave her a "donation" -- she accepts donations -- of $20. She recommended "blue green algae" supplement in lieu of any antibiotics but conceded that might not work for everyone.

The upstairs bar at No. 9, Washington, D.C., 6:44PM Sept. 11, 2013.

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Her name is Jean and she is originally from Miami (decades ago). Jean is probably in her 60s and has been around St. Matthew's for them bulk of 40 years with a few interludes away. When I saw her at 6PM, she had yet to set up her bedding / tarp / umbrella at the top of the steps after the cathedral (as I often see when I walk by around 730PM en route to the gym). She said that God wants her to live that life, and that's how she does her good works. She said she prefers not talking to people since that detracts her from God.

I asked her if the Cathedral staff -- including Msgr. Jameson -- or the Archdiocese ever help her in any way. She said, no, not really.


I have a modest suggestion for Msgr. James D. Watkins: How about you give up just once a month one of your expensive dinner dates at a fancy restaurant and give Jean the money. Or maybe forgo buying yet another multi-colored robe and mitre for your hybrid Chita Rivera / Carmen Miranda theatrical Catholic mass operatic production and help her out? What say you, Msgr. Watkins??

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Part II: September 12, 2013

The intersection of U and 16th Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 7:22PM September 12, 2013.

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This day started out frightfully late for me because I could not get up this morning what with the Vicodin and dental extraction and everything. I also had to take a couple more Vicodin and Motrin today because my gum where my unsalvageable tooth was extracted yesterday started to get sore / hurt.

Although I did not get into work until noon -- and just in time for one of our quarterly all-hand's meetings -- the day ended up relatively productive / good as I completed a non-trivial assignment for the Federal client AND I got to submit it with a "cover" email (after consultation with AP).

Showery / gloomy and very humid dusk in the 1900 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW (underneath the shade trees that line it), Washington, D.C., 7:23PM September 12, 2013.

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This evening, I again skipped the gym and instead went to what turned out to be a very nice dinner with LP and Kristof at a Belgian restaurant (bistro and bar) called Sur La Place on MacArthur Blvd. in the Palisades section here in D.C.

Image of the exterior of Sur La Place bistro here in D.C. (taken from its website).

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Image of the interior of Sur La Place bistro here in D.C. (taken from its website).

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The place is really nice with a dark, cozy, intimate interior and the food and drink (with its many Belgian beers) delicious. Alas, a big, cackling gaggle (brood?) of hen-like noisy, annoying women (one of whom looked a bit like actress Wendie Malick in a bad wig) -- part of a birthday party that somehow spilled out from another nearby place -- came in and for the next hour and a half made it rather loud. Eventually, we were able to tune it out even as they slowly piped down / departed (never having actually sat down to eat).

A dim picture with my cellphone camera of aforementioned crowd of mostly ladies at the bar at Sur La Place, Washington, D.C., 10:11PM September 12, 2013.

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The hostess / waitress / bartender who waited on us was very apologetic.

In the end, we had a wonderful time and I intend to go back there again. (Maybe "Baby" M. WADE Tipamillyun and I can go there for a cozy dinner tête-à-tête with good food, good wine and sophisticated conversation ... Well, maybe not.)

Capital Antiques s& Fine Art storefront on MacArthur Blvd., Washington, D.C., 10:46PM September 12, 2013.

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Weather-wise ...

There were thunderstorms after what should be the last of the 90F+ days region-wide.

In particular, there was a cluster of t-storms that pushed through the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas -- the latter around 6PM and the former at 1PM and then again at 6PM. KBWI received 0.59" in all (including 0.56" in the first round) while KDHM (Maryland Science Center) had 0.40". By contrast, KDCA had just 0.18" and KIAD a scant 0.04" of precipitation. Highs reached 93F at KDCA and KIAD and 92F at KDMH but "only" 89F at KBWI.

NWS surface map of East Coast centered on mid-Atlantic region, 0Z UTC (8PM EDT) 14 September 2013 (Sept. 13, 2013).

The first of two cold fronts has crossed the region at the midnight hour and already a new air mass is in place. While there won't be much more rain for the next 4 to 5 days, the hot weather is over.

OK, that's all for now. I may be going to a baseball game Friday night, though at this point, it doesn't seem likely, in which case I may update this blog at that point -- otherwise, it will be on Saturday evening.

--Regulus

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