Get it? Monarch butterfly — fly fly away? Well, I thought it was funny at least.
This is a great story for Blindness Awareness Month.. and it just happened a few days ago. There were so many very bizarre and inappropriate things that happened during this story that you would think I was making it up. But I’m not.
About a week ago, I woke up with this really annoying feeling like there was food stuck between my teeth in the back of my mouth. I tried to brush it out, but it was still there. I then realized that I have this flap of gum that is now coming up over my last tooth on the lower left side and is swollen.. very swollen.
I hadn’t found a local dentist since I started this job because my old dentist whom I LOVE (Dr. Chamberlain in Dallas) unfortunately doesn’t accept my new employer’s dental insurance. One of my co-workers recommended Monarch Dental and I found out another trusted co-worker also goes to Monarch Dental, but another location. So I decided to check it out. I went online and filled out their appointment request and was called the next day to make the appointment. Their forms online are not accessible to screen readers and I was very busy so I wasn’t able to complete the forms prior to the appointment.
The dentist’s office is in the mall so my driver walked in with me to help me find it. I walked up to the front desk and the lady tells me to sign in. Okay, it’s a big enough sign in sheet that I can handle that by myself (with my face pretty close to the piece of paper). She then tells me to sit down, I do so. About 30 seconds later, she asks me to come back up and get New Patient paperwork. I ask her if the forms are in any larger print because I’m visually impaired and she says no, and then goes on to the next client in the waiting room. So I sit down and bring out my phone to help me enlarge the documents (I didn’t have my portable CCTV with me.. gotta start carrying that around with me more). While I’m very tediously balancing a pen, a phone, holding the clipboard on my lap, and have Makiko’s leash between my legs, the lady asks me about 2 minutes in to bring up my insurance card and Drivers License. She then starts arguing with me that she can’t accept a State ID and that she has to have a Drivers License. I tell her I can’t drive because I am blind/have a disability, but she says “I’m sorry, I still can’t take this,” so then we go back and forth about this, with a waiting room full of people, and then finally someone else comes up and tells this lady that they CAN accept it. Okay, great, I can finally go sit down. So I go sit down and continue filling out the papers and she calls me up again.. this time there are several other customers at the desk so I have to wiggle my way around them to get to her, she gives me my insurance card back and says she’ll give me my ID back in a bit.. okay, great.. thanks.. I sit down once again. I finish filling out this paperwork (finally!) and go back up to the desk. She then starts asking me all of these questions about my medical history which I filled out on this form with EVERYBODY IN THE ROOM. Can you talk about HIPAA? Okay so eventually I said I would answer any other questions with the dentist. I went and sat back down, with my ID.
Makiko and I wait patiently and then a Dental Assistant comes out to get us. She doesn’t introduce herself, just immediately starts talking about Makiko. We go back to the x-ray room and we barely get in the open doorway and she disappears… I couldn’t find a chair so I tell Makiko to find a chair, and she does so.. good girl! So I sit down and she comes back about 10 minutes later and starts taking x-rays… I got an x-ray jacket for Makiko too. Mind you, she still hasn’t introduced herself. While taking the x-rays she starts asking me super personal questions, “Why do you have a dog?” “Aren’t you really depressed because you are blind?” “How did your parents cope with your diagnosis?” If this were the time and the place for these questions, they are great questions, but 10 minutes after I’ve met you and you haven’t even introduced yourself — I’m not that comfortable to answer these. I can’t remember what I said but I gave her very short answers. We then go into the dental room. I sit there and wait and wait and wait. I’m already pretty frustrated at this point and texting my Mom that I’m not sure I will be coming back here… and then all of a sudden I hear this really loud scream from right behind me…
It was the DENTIST..
Oh dear goodness. Makiko didn’t move, but she did look up at her. Apparently this Dentist is really scared of dogs, so she went around the border of the room until she was in the opposite corner of Makiko (where I couldn’t really see her from the chair) and told me “I’m kind of scared of dogs, so I’m just going to stand here.. is that okay?” What do you say to that? I wasn’t really sure what to say so I just kind of gave her this “uhhhh” look. She then started talking to the Dental Assistant. I then ask in a very sweet tone, “If she is so scared of dogs, is there someone else that probably should assist me today?” The Dental Assistant replied, “No she’s the only one.” (Notice, I’m still calling them “the dental assistant” and “the dentist,” because I still have yet to be introduced to either of them or learn their names. I probably should have asked but I was too caught up in all the other BS to really care at that moment). So the dentist proceeds with her exam, with no bed side manner, not understanding that I can’t see what she’s talking about, and then tells me that I need a little dental work, she won’t do a cleaning today, I’ll have to come back for 3 or 4 different treatments, they are going to do nothing today (not a cleaning or anything), she doesn’t know what the mass is but is going to “watch it for a week or so,” (Meaning she expected me to come back within this time frame) and refer me to an oral surgeon if necessary “because it could be oral cancer.”
Great. You all know how much I hate that ‘c” word.
Okay, so let’s re-cap. I had a horrible registration experience, was asked very personal questions about my disability and adjustment to disability that I have never been asked directly before, had a dentist scream in my ear and examine me from odd angles, nobody introduced themselves, nobody reviewed the xrays that were taken, and then the office manager/treatment coordinator came in.
This lady then proceeds to show me this really small font list of everything I need done. I tell her I can’t really read it because of my visual impairment and she says “Sorry, this is all I have.” Great. Okay, so then she says “Now you need to pay for all of this upfront to get all your treatments booked.” Um, excuse me? I’ve NEVER DONE THAT… so I used Mom as an excuse. “I need to talk this over with my Mother and then I’ll call you to schedule.” (At this point I vowed that I would never be stepping foot back in this office). The lady was nice enough and understood and then said “have a good night.” Okay, so we get out of the exam chair and escort ourselves down the hallways and out the door.
What an awful experience. I still have this really annoying and painful gum problem. I’m pretty sure it’s infected at this point, and I’m not exaggerating. I’m going to call my PCP tomorrow and see if he will order me an antibiotic over the phone. I got a new dentist recommendation and this time it isn’t a chain, it’s a family dentistry practice. I think I’ll like it much better because that’s what I’m used to. I have been taking pain medication and making sure it stays clean by brushing it well and using Listerine. I also remembered back to the days of when I had braces and had sores on my cheeks, I was given Orajel. Mom picked me up some and oh my goodness this stuff is amazing! It has provided me so much relief.
I attempted to write Monarch an email about this but there is no email to send it to. There is only a short box on the website for an inquiry. So I “Inquired” and asked who at corporate I can send a complaint to. I hope to hear back soon.
I will NEVER ever recommend Monarch to anybody. I know that they probably are very different depending on the location but I can’t ever imagine recommending this to anybody after the experience I have. And, in my job, I am often asked for recommendations.
What an experience.