book reviews, healthcare

Repost: Review of Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist…

Here’s a reposted book review I originally wrote in 2011 for Epinions. com. Hope you enjoy it, as/is!

I guess I can thank our recent return to watching television for introducing me to former cosmetic dentist Michael Zuk’s 2010 book, Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist.  It was sort of a “one thing leads to another” thing.  I was watching Extreme Home Makeover and remembered that there used to be an Extreme Makeover show dedicated making over peoples’ appearances.  I looked it up on imdb.com and someone mentioned Zuk’s tell all book about cosmetic dentistry.  I went to Amazon, noticed the reviews were pretty positive, and decided to download Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist to my Kindle.

What’s this book all about? 

Back in the 1990s, Michael Zuk was bitten by the cosmetic dentistry bug.  He bought into the highly motivational speeches he heard about how cosmetic dentists can change peoples’ lives for the better by giving them beautiful smiles.  So Michael Zuk became a cosmetic dentist and eventually added orthodontics to his practice.  He got into the business of overhauling smiles by giving his patients veneers, replacing enamel with porcelain, and bleaching teeth into brilliant whiteness.

Somewhere along the way, Dr. Zuk lost his enthusiasm for cosmetic dentistry.  He started to notice how some of his overly aggressive colleagues were ruining their clients’ teeth with veneers.  He also noticed that cosmetic dentists were raking in a lot of cash for procedures that might eventually ruin a client’s perfectly serviceable, but not quite camera ready, teeth.

Dr. Zuk also discusses orthodontic treatments and offers his opinions on some of the newer treatments that are available, such as Invisalign.  A lot of clients are attracted to so-called high speed braces, even if the treatment won’t make that much of a difference.  Dr. Zuk explains why clients need to be more informed about their options and the potential risks that can come from cosmetic dentistry.

My thoughts 

I think Dr. Zuk has written a very interesting and useful book for the general public, especially those who might be tempted to undergo a cosmetic dentistry makeover.  Dr. Zuk is brutally honest about the effect some of the more popular procedures, especially bleaching and veneers, might have on a person’s teeth.  He seems particularly against veneers, which are apparently especially damaging to some people.  It seems a lot of cosmetic dentists sugar coat what actually happens to natural teeth when they undergo cosmetic restorations.  Clients may be left with a big bill and teeth that eventually fall apart.  I was pretty shocked when Dr. Zuk wrote that he’d sooner trust a good family dentist rather than a cosmetic dentist.  He seems to think the cosmetic dentistry industry is all about money and, in fact, often comes across as quite cynical.  On the other hand, some of his comments are pretty funny, too.  I actually laughed out loud a couple of times.

One thing I noticed about this book is that it seems to be somewhat poorly edited.  I don’t know if it’s because of the Kindle, but in many instances throughout the book, there was no spacing between words.  So I ended up reading several sentences thatlookedlikethis.  It got to be pretty annoying.  Another thing that might be off putting to some readers, particularly if they are in the dental profession, is Zuk’s rather pessimistic attitude.  He makes a lot of comments about how cosmetic dentists are only in the business to fatten their wallets.  He claims that cosmetic dentists are constantly fixated on other people’s smiles, looking for ways they could be improved at a pretty penny.    

Overall

I am lucky enough to have pretty good teeth, so I have never been attracted to the idea of getting cosmetic dental treatment.  Nevertheless, I did learn a lot from Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist and would recommend it to anyone, especially those who might be thinking about taking the cosmetic dentistry plunge.  I do wish the book were better edited, especially for the Kindle. ETA in 2022: It looks like this book is no longer available on Kindle, anyway.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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France, healthcare

Bonjour, France… it’s been too long!

We made it to France yesterday, after a somewhat interesting visit with our dentist in Stuttgart. He always gives me a hard time because I got very anxious when he had to pull one of my two baby teeth a few years ago. We ended up talking about how I have a hard time dealing with doctors, after he asked me if I had any issues with lupus. To my knowledge, I don’t have lupus, but I might have had it for years… I haven’t seen a doctor since 2010.

He asked, because I have an inflamed, red area in my mouth, just under my bottom teeth, that troubles him whenever I visit. He asks me about my health every time I see him. In the past, he’s asked me if I have Chron’s Disease. I’m pretty sure I don’t have that. But anyway, he pressed on the area yesterday and gave me a bruise. I told him a little about why I am so reluctant to go to doctors, and he told me that he, his brother, and their father are all prostate cancer survivors and “everything still works”. Wow… He is half German, half American, and in some ways, is very German.

I ended up looking up lupus and am alarmed that I might have some of the symptoms… which causes me to stress. But then I decided that I need to enjoy France, because it’s been two years since we were last here, and boy have I missed it. I mean, I had no idea how much I have missed France!

And while the town where we’re staying isn’t super exciting or special, unless you’re into Goethe, I did choose a lovely hotel with a restaurant that has a Michelin Star. We have been eating in grand style, too… This morning, we had an insane breakfast with the most delicious pastries I think I have ever had. And then for lunch, we had Moroccan food that left us pretty stuffed!

We did some shopping and walking around… I took lots of pictures. We’re really only about ten miles into France, but it feels like another world. The French are not nearly as anal retentive as the Germans are, so we’ve felt practically free. It’s awesome.

On the other hand, I already miss the dogs. This morning, we saw the most adorable beagle. He was so friendly and sweet and just wanted to talk to us. He even gave me an “arroo!” He reminded me of our sweet, departed Zane, who was super friendly and lovable. I still miss him every day. We also saw some super cute pygmy goats. I have missed the world… especially when it includes friendly animals.

I think tomorrow, we might head further afield to see what else we can see in these parts. I hope we can come back to France again soon and spend more time. I had forgotten how much I love this place.

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Duggars, ethics, law, musings

“If you want the rainbow, you’re going to have to put up with a lot of rain…”

Yesterday, I got the news that after last year’s sad miscarriage, Jill Dillard and her husband, Derick, are expecting another baby. The blessed event is set to happen in July. The happy news was announced on their official Web site. It looks they’re going to get their “rainbow baby”. In the pictures on their Web site, Jill looks radiant. Her bump is already pretty pronounced, at about halfway through her pregnancy.

I must say, Jill looks very beautiful these days. I’m happy for her, and I hope her pregnancy goes well. I also hope she doesn’t attempt another home birth, but I think she’s smart enough not to try that again. It’s not that I necessarily have anything against home births as a general rule. It’s just more that Jill’s first two pregnancies were pretty dramatic at the end, and she ended up having to go to the hospital on an emergency basis. It would not be smart for her to try to birth at home again, given her history.

I still don’t necessarily approve of the transphobic and homophobic comments Derick Dillard made a few years ago. I think part of that was an attempt to cause problems for the Duggar empire, since Derick was allegedly angry with Boob for not paying them for their work. However, knowing how religious Derick supposedly is, I also suspect that he really believes most of the awful stuff he said and wrote about Jazz Jennings. On the other hand, I respect Derick for not putting up with Jim Bob’s bullshit and for, evidently, being a good husband to Jill… and not forcing her to continue to live by Boob’s ridiculous fundie Christian rules.

Today’s post title comes from a little wisdom I picked up after watching Dawson’s Creek back in the late 90s. I was in my mid 20s at the time, living with my parents, and trying to get my shit together after my time in Armenia. It was during that time that the WB network still existed, and I got hooked on 7th Heaven and Dawson’s Creek. It amazes me to think of how long ago that was. The years have flown by so fast!

Anyway, I remember that the character, Jen, played by the amazing Michelle Williams (who does a mean Gwen Verdon impression), had a grandmother who regularly dispensed trite advice. I really only watched Dawson’s Creek during the first season. I was pretty busy at that time of my life, and didn’t have much time for TV. But I do remember the episode that quote came from… as “Grams” was talking to Dawson and said her comatose husband used to say that “If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with a lot of rain.” And then she said to Dawson, “From what I’ve seen of you so far, you better buy yourself a good umbrella.” Sage words indeed, Grams. Hopefully, Derick and Jill and their sons will have a healthy new family member this summer. I also hope Derick has a good job, especially since TLC presumably won’t be there to film the birth.

Tomorrow, Bill and I will be going to Stuttgart to see our dentist. I look forward to being done with that little pesky chore. Afterwards, we will drive just over the border into France and spend the weekend. The dogs will be at the Hunde Pension. Hopefully, they’ll be okay for four nights. I suspect Arran will be annoyed at having to stay there. He’d rather come with us. If it was just him, maybe we would bring him, although he doesn’t do so well by himself and we’re going to dine out. Noyzi takes up the entire back end of our Volvo, so it’s not so practical to travel with him. He loves trips, though.

I’m looking forward to getting out of here for a brief respite, especially since we’re going to France. We haven’t gone anywhere in months. The weather has vastly improved, too. It’s still a little windy and chilly, but the sun has been out a lot. The days are getting longer. Pretty soon, it’ll be time to reconnect the lawnmower and haul the outdoor furniture up from the basement, so we can sit outside.

Although there’s a conflict going on in Ukraine, and it’s very troubling and scary, I can’t help but feel somewhat hopeful and optimistic. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I should be more scared, I guess… but I think the past two years have tapped me out on being scared.

I was sitting in my bedroom yesterday, thinking about how totally awry my life has gone. I mean, I’m very comfortable, but all of the things I planned for myself kind of went out the window. But then, I couldn’t have foreseen all that has happened over the past twenty years or so. Things that were so important back then, don’t really amount to much today. And now that Putin is talking about nukes, maybe it won’t matter at all before too long. So I feel like I just want to enjoy things for now, for as long as I can. Getting too upset about stuff I can’t control is a waste of time and energy.

I did get a little triggered last night, though. I happened across a Reddit Ridiculousness post about a person who accidentally damaged a “friend’s” laptop and offered to pay for a brand new one. The friend with the damaged computer then demanded an extra $500, because she wanted to upgrade… Can you imagine the balls on that bitch? Have a look.

That post was very satisfying to read. The ending was perfect. I can’t abide people who have the stones to try to get over in such a way. I can’t even imagine having the nerve to demand that someone buy me a brand new, upgraded laptop computer, when I negligently put the computer on a surface where people sit down. Good for that judge for holding the computer owner responsible for her own stupidity and carelessness. She probably did that on purpose, hoping to scam someone into buying her a new computer. I’m glad the really kind original poster did not give in to the extortionate demands of the thieving computer bitch. Good on her for letting the bitch sue her, and then allowing the judge to hand the bitch her ass. Serves her right.

As I read that post last night, I was reminded of our ex landlady’s attempt to force us to buy her a brand new awning. I’ve written about that sordid affair a few times and you can read most of long version of the whole awful tale here. The short version is, I had asked the former landlady to have the awning repaired, because it was leaning very low and looked like it was going to fall. She had her husband do the job instead of hiring a professional.

One really hot day, the wind was high, and the heavy awning finally collapsed. I wasn’t outside when it fell, and I couldn’t predict the wind, so ex landlady immediately accused me of being “negligent”, completely ignoring that it was her responsibility to have the thing fixed. She was VERY lucky no one was hurt or killed that day. But she focused on the fact that I wasn’t sitting under the awning when it fell. She claimed that it had been a “stormy” day. If you click the link to my first post about this, you can see that the weather was sunny that day– at least when the awning initially fell. It did storm later, but that happened after the great collapse. In the photos I took right after the awning fell, it’s clearly bright and sunny, with no signs of rain.

The insurance settlement she got from our liability policy was only 300 euros. That wasn’t enough money for her, even though the awning was 17 years old and she hadn’t had it properly repaired. A little over a year later, when we moved out, she came up with a bullshit list of reasons to withhold our security deposit. She wanted 2800 euros to buy a brand new awning. I guarantee you, though, that if the situation had been reversed, and we were the landlords, there is no way in HELL she would have paid for a new awning. I think she knows damned well that’s not how insurance works. She was trying to take advantage of my husband’s good nature, and apparently thought we were both weak and stupid people. I strongly suspect that she’s done this before, to other people… and especially other tenants. In retrospect, we should have held her completely responsible from the beginning, and refused to file an insurance claim, given that she didn’t have a professional fix the awning.

When Bill pushed back and asked ex landlady for a list of bills proving that she’d spent 2500 euros of our deposit to fix the house, as well as proof that we were responsible for the damage, she got really nasty, insulting, and unprofessional. She sent a few bills, including a couple for things that weren’t our responsibility, but were just intended to make us feel guilty for how much money she was spending (on anal retentive things like washing the roof of the carport). She grudgingly gave back about 666 euros or so, out of 3200, and flat out REFUSED to give us more. She falsely accused us of theft, and completely ignored that she did some things very wrong as landlady, as she demanded perfection from us. It was pretty clear to me, at least, that she was determined to take our money, no matter what. So Bill sued her. It took a long time, thanks to COVID-19, but in the end, she had to pay us back 73 percent of what she illegally withheld, and she had to pay our lawyer, her lawyer, and court fees.

In the end, she probably spent over twice what she tried to rip off. She also got off easy, because she didn’t follow several proper landlord procedures, according to German law. If we had been very stubborn, vindictive people, we could have nailed her for a lot more money. But we just wanted to hold her accountable, because we suspect she has a habit of ripping people off. There’s a reason why she prefers American tenants. We wanted proof of her shady practices, so we could provide it to the military installation and have a prayer of sparing other Americans from having to deal with her. Moreover, I was on the receiving end of her verbal abuse for four years, and I figured she had it coming. In spite of that sweet victory, I’m still really pissed off at her. I know I shouldn’t be, but I am. I can’t abide narcissistic, abusive people, especially when they fuck with my husband.

Now, of course, we have a much better landlord, and a better house. And, for now, thanks to Putin, Bill has job security. Or, so it seems… I sometimes worry about the future, and where we’ll end up. I try to take steps to make sure we have an “umbrella” prepared for the rainstorms… and hope we’ll see rainbows. So far, we generally do get treated to better times when there are “storms”. But I know that’s now how life always works. I am a bit worried about the world’s problems… but I’m also looking forward to better times. Or, at least a time when problems will be beyond me, because I won’t be around for them. I have always been comforted by the idea that someday I’ll be dead, and I won’t have to care about anything anymore.

I don’t know how much writing I’ll be doing over the next few days. I’ll bring my laptop, making sure not to put it on a couch to be sat upon. But I hope we’ll have the chance to see a lot of stuff, eat some good French food, and enjoy the world a little bit more than we have been lately.

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Germany, silliness

Greetings from the Schwarzwald… where pan pipes are considered soothing.

Yesterday was a very busy day. We woke up early, with plans to go to Stuttgart and see our dentist. We were long overdue in seeing our dentist, Dr. B. It had been over two years, mainly due to COVID-19, and the inability to travel with ease coupled with conflicts of schedules. Originally, I had planned for us to stay in Stuttgart, but our favorite hotel was totally booked. Then I remembered how much I liked visiting The Black Forest when we still lived near it. So, even though our hotel is 100 kilometers from our dentist’s office, I booked us in a very nice resort for four nights. But we spent most of yesterday in our old stomping grounds.

I am pleased to report that I had a good checkup. Bill was not as lucky. He’s been complaining about his teeth recently and, sure enough, as the dentist was probing, one of Bill’s fillings fell out. Bill has to come back to Stuttgart next week. He’ll just take the ICE train and do a one day visit. We both got very thorough cleanings that were much needed and appreciated. My gums are a little sensitive today.

After our dentist visit, we had a hearty lunch at a steak joint. Then we met someone in my wine group who was going to be picking up corks. I collect corks from our many bottles of wine to give to the crafters among us. After chatting with the lady from the wine group, we headed back to the hotel, spent a little time at the pool, and then I hung out at the bar, while Bill talked to his therapist online. It was a little strange sitting alone in the bar. This resort is loaded with German couples and families, most of whom don’t seem to speak English. I caught the bartender glancing at me, probably wondering where Bill went.

Over the sound system, they were playing music from the 80s and 90s. We’re talking Celine Dion, All 4 One, Boys to Men, and Phil Collins. It was actually a little depressing. For one thing, those songs were all hits when I was a lot younger. As I was listening, I was reminded of my 20s, when I was younger, healthier, and probably prettier, although you’d never know it by my non-existent love life in those days. I had images in my head of going to bars and feeling invisible and broke.

Add in the fact that while this hotel is very pretty and has old school charm, it’s also a bit dated. And so, I felt almost like I was in a time warp, accented by the outfits some of the people were wearing. Not that I can talk about that myself…

This hotel also pipes annoying Muzak into the halls and restaurant. It’s basically a step up from the horrible Muzak my dad used to force me to listen to on our car trips. Bill and I were eating breakfast and “Careless Whisper” by Wham came on, only it had been softened into a soothing version of the original. And that arrangement included pan pipes!

Who in the hell wants to listen to pan pipes in an 80s song about breaking up? It reminds me of the time I heard a Muzak version of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses.

I know… I know… who pays attention to the music piped into restaurants? I do. I’m obviously not the only one. I am a frustrated musician. Every time I hear pan pipes, I’m reminded of Zamfir. He used to be on ads in 80s and 90s, selling his pan pipe versions of the day’s hit songs. It made me want to tear out my hair.

Yikes! This gives me chills.

In college, I joined Sigma Alpha Iota, which is an honorary music fraternity for women (as opposed to a sorority). Pan pipes are part of SAI’s insignia. Members have pins they wear that have pan pipes in the middle of them. I appreciated being a sister of SAI, but I’ll be damned if I will willingly listen to pan pipes by choice. I’d rather visit the dentist, as long as he doesn’t play Zamfir’s greatest hits during the exam.

As Bill and I were discussing the pan pipe infused hit song, “Careless Whisper”, originally made famous by George Michael, somehow our conversation morphed into chat about patient privacy. Germans actually have a very interesting approach to privacy. Bill was lamenting about how our dentist, who was trained in the United States and is half-American on his dad’s side, doesn’t have any qualms about talking about other people’s issues. HIPAA does not exist in Germany. So Dr. B will tell Bill about my teeth, and he will tell me about Bill’s teeth. He doesn’t bat an eye… and in fact, he speaks loudly enough that anyone in the waiting room can hear him.

But… people who commit crimes in Germany are often not publicly named. Here, there exists the right to be “forgotten”. They don’t go in for canceling people. So, if someone commits a crime, he or she can do time and then try to rejoin society. Read a newspaper about a crime and you’ll see a photo of the alleged perpetrator, face blocked by a binder and first name and last initial used instead the whole name.

Germany also has an annoying Data Privacy law, which requires Web sites to state upfront that they use cookies. Every time I hit a site in Germany, I get a pop up that tells me about cookies… and any site that doesn’t want to comply is unavailable over here without the use of a VPN.

I’m sure there’s more to the privacy law than pop up ads. A few years ago, when I was having issues with quitting Hello Fresh, I read that if I wanted to make a big stink, I could remind them of the data security law to light a fire under them. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, although there was a lot of swearing involved with getting them to completely delete my account.

Anyway, no one screams about HIPAA here, because there is no such thing. Our dentist will happily talk about my last remaining baby tooth, which will turn 50 next year, should I live that long and it doesn’t get abscessed or anything. He’s probably told his other patients about it. Every time I see him, he mentions it. I think he said that prior to meeting me, the oldest person he had ever met with baby teeth was about 35.

Yesterday, as we were driving back to the Black Forest, we passed by our former digs… or, actually, we didn’t go by where we lived. We just passed the town, and where we used to turn to go home. It was a little surreal. We spent four years there. It was mostly a good time for us, except for dealing with our former landlady, who seemed determined to paint us as people we aren’t and make us pay for things that weren’t our responsibility. That experience kind of soured me a little… I would have preferred to have left on much better terms, as we have in almost every other living situation we’ve been in as a married couple. But I guess this kind of thing happens sometimes.

I tried to appreciate how truly beautiful the area where we lived is. It really was a naturally beautiful place. Where we are now isn’t nearly as idyllic, although it is also an attractive area. It’s just that the Black Forest is extraordinarily beautiful, even at the edges, which was where we lived. I miss being able to take off on weekends and be in the forest, where there are stunning views everywhere you look. And it’s nice to be back down here… Germany is different in this area than it is where we are now. God help me, if you were to ask me where I feel more at home in Germany, I’d have to say the Stuttgart area… as whacked out as it can be on many levels. I do love it here… and it’s great to be back. I hope we can do some more short visits. I guess if COVID keeps up, we may keep traveling within Germany.

Well… Mr. Bill has come back to the room. He’s excited, because the sun is out, and he wants to go for a walk. I suppose I owe it to myself to take a walk and exercise my old bones. It would be a good idea, since today is high falutin’ culinary day. We have reservations at two fancy restaurants today, since there are weddings tomorrow. So I’ll stop here… and try not to get too upset over the news… or pan pipes arrangements in piped in music from the 80s and 90s. The Schwarzwald is beautiful… but it probably appeals most to people of a certain age. Alas, I am reaching that age.

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