Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth

Well, I couldn’t resist after my last post title and two trips to the dentist this week, could I?

My avoidance of masochists, I mean dentists started many years ago when I was unlucky to have a flat above a dental surgery. I’m not sure whether he was actually a serial killer or not, but the screams coming from the chair were almost as bad as the last time I was in a maternity unit.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a workshop down in the basement where he made all his false teeth moulds. Having sneaked into it one day, my flat mate and I were not only horrified at the various paraphernalia but the overall hygiene of the place was horrifying. Cue my avoidance of any dental appointments for the next several years.

Eventually, when I became a parent we had to register our daughter for a dentist and due to NHS shortages this ended up being at a private practice, where they agreed to treat the children as NHS patients if the parents registered.

Following an initial examination where he commented things didn’t look too bad, a couple of x-rays later had him shaking his head and taking sharp intakes of breath like a greedy car mechanic trying to rip off a customer. The conclusion – eight fillings in various places over a six week period of appointments and a £350 dental bill. Oh, and a tendency to set off metal detectors.

That was about ten years ago, and I have continued to go along for regular appointments ever since. It goes okay for one or two, and then he must think that he hasn’t had any money out of me for a while and finds something that needs replacing. Even, when I protest that he did the work so it shouldn’t need redone, he just smiles and secretly imagines the pound signs and his next holiday to Barbados.

This last visit, I made the mistake of telling him I now had private dental care. A cash cow if ever there was one for dentistry. Oh, well he says rubbing his hands.....it has been some time since we had full x-rays done. Again, cue head shaking, umming, ahhing and a couple of problems with existing fillings come to light. After waving an x-ray in front of me and convincing me that two teeth needed doing, I turned up for the first appointment last Monday.

This tooth has given me no trouble at all, but following an uncomfortable half hour of drilling, poking, clamping and sticking that bloody cotton wool tampon like tubes in my mouth – I’m free to go. The result,.... I have had nothing but pain from the tooth all blooming week, it’s very sensitive to cold / hot, although and he assures me it will settle down soon.

Second trip to the dentist yesterday to finish off another miserable Monday and after hacking about at me for what felt like hours, he announces that if this doesn’t work then root canal treatment may be required. I had hoped it wasn’t trial and error on his part by this time, especially since he’d just drilled out the previous blooming filling. At least this one isn’t hurting the same.

As I left the surgery, I overheard someone trying to book an appointment only to be told the dentist was on holiday for three weeks in September. Looks like he was topping up his beer money again.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The woof, the whole woof and nothing but the woof

While chatting on Twitter last week, two of my fellow Tweeters mentioned they were thinking about getting a dog. A Labrador in fact.
They are no doubt used to my inane tweets about having to walk the dog, it chasing the cat, licking my feet or inflicting pain in my gentleman’s area with its blooming massive heavy paws !

As I’m now clearly an expert in dog ownership and it’s a big decision to make, they even asked for my balanced opinion on the matter. Of course, the question of impartiality raises some conflicts of interest on my part bearing in mind my previous pre-dog owning post"Walkies" and "Ok so she's a bit of a dog"

Reading those back now, I could be forgiven for being a little pessimistic about the joys of dog ownership. Funny, the joys of parenting are another closely drawn parallel….

Anyway, most of my Nostradamus style apocalyptic predictions actually did come to pass – so I wasn’t completely barking, if you pardon the pun.

It does cost a lot of money to own a dog, the ongoing food bills, worming, vaccinations, insurance all adds up….and that’s before the chewed skirting boards, plasterboard, pee-ruined rug, chewed phone cables and garden destruction!!! Oh, and the trip to the vet for stitches when she was bit by another dog before we had the insurance.

We also seem to have acquired not only the most expensive bitch in the litter, but also the most hyperactive, excitable, sees-another-dog-and-goes-berserk Labrador out there. Walking her is very difficult, at times embarrassing, especially when all the other dog owners look at you as if your one is the naughty kid in school. However, we are used to that with actually already having the child with ASD that everyone thinks is uncontrollable anyway, so perhaps the dog fits right in.

In all seriousness, I’m told that Lab’s generally are a bit mental until they are a couple of years old and apparently settle down into very steady pets…. or was that one of my wife’s other assurances. Hmmmm?

There are some positives (I’m told). Our autistic son loves the dog and has great interaction with it. She helps to get him out of the house and away from his computer. My wife says this works for her too and she has enjoyed having something else to do through the day. Although it has almost continually pissed down with rain this year – so you need to add waterproofs and wellies to your expenditure plan.

For me, I don’t really mind the dog….. but I do mind the commitment. I guess I didn’t really want to be saddled with the responsibility of having another weight round my neck. It is a big decision, especially if you have time constraints and as the age old saying goes…dogs are for life… a bit like kids and we know how much they don’t come with adequate small print. However, it doesn’t stop us having them, so I guess it should be the same for dogs.
Of course, being a lazy git, I always found the cat great to look after. You don't have to walk cats !
Anyway, as far as my balanced opinion goes.........Personally, anyone considering a dog needs to weigh up their circumstances, lifestyle and must never watch Marley and Me or the Andrex adverts while doing so.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Goodbye Summer

First day back at work following holidays and doesn’t feel too bad. That’s me ready for the long haul until Christmas, summer is officially over – well did it ever really start?

Ok, I’m exaggerating we still have the rest of August and hopefully September for a few nice days, but then I will be ready for the run into the festive season. Let’s be honest, as parents you have to start planning, budgeting and ordering the must have toys around October these days anyway. I mean do you remember the scramble for Wii’s a few years ago?

Before I depress you too much, I ‘d better change tack. This is my lack of summer sunshine,  vitamin D deficiency and impending SAD pessimism taking over already.

On a brighter note, I’m strutting around looking resplendent in my new Italian Chelsea boots. Oh, I like a nice pair of shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the male version of Imelda Marcos or anything – I only ever own a couple of pairs at a time, but with them and my new white shirt, I have that “back to school” feeling. Yes, I know I’m 42 and it’s not really like being back at school – but I like to start off fresh after my holidays with some new gear. It’s a bit like getting a new uniform, bag and pencil case.

Speaking of which, my daughter starts secondary school after the summer and I took her to WH Smiths for some bits and pieces. £34 later, yes that’s right, I said THIRTY FOUR POUNDS. Ok, there was a calculator in there, but throw in a few biros, pencils, highlighters, stupid over priced erasers that will be no use whatsoever, a geometry kit, a pencil case with Skulls on it and some coloured gel pens – that’s all you get.

I’m almost 100% certain I could have got the equivalent gear in Asda for less than a tenner. Don’t get me started on the school uniform itself and her choice of very questionable length skirts or her “Zombie Killing” school bag. I did try and explain that it wouldn’t really be like St Trinian’s – but I think she has other ideas.
Actually, once the kids go back to school – that really signifies the end of summer and impending Autumn doom and gloom.

Did, I mention there’s only 139 days til Christmas?
(Reaches for Prozac)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

National Lampoons Vacation

Well my Center Parcs woodland holiday village experience came and went quite quickly last week. I am officially all swimming, cycling, field archery, tree trekking and zip wired out. Back to work for a rest next week.

I actually enjoyed getting out in the fresh air and cycling around, up and down the hills – well the down was a hell of a lot easier than the up to be fair.

Our son coped relatively well with the experience, although was never going to be able to take part in any structured group tasks due to his frustration and outbursts. However we managed to do a “treasure trail” which involved cycling around looking for clues, only hampered by me telling him to go down hill and then up to the right – only for him to go up hill and down to the left. This is a good example of where even simple communication can be picked up incorrectly due to the way the autistic brain can process information or where they only hear parts of a sentence and end up with a completely different message received.

He, of course, threw his bike down and shouted at the top of his voice to me that I was a stupid idiot and it was all my fault, much to the amusement of about twenty or so people who must have thought this was the brat from hell. But we’re used to that. His only other misdemeanour was to shout at mum she was a “f**cking idiot” for doing something equally as misinterpreted by him later in full earshot of another disapproving audience as we left the village centre. C’est la vie.

My daughter insisted we took a kayak on the lake and we had a lot of fun paddling in different directions at the same time. Olympic teamwork was not high on the agenda unless there’s a medal category for worrying ducks and heading for other boats inadvertently. Which we were very, very good at.

When we hired the sit on vessel, the guy did say we would get a bit wet from the waist down, however I had jeans on and was completely soaked through by the time we finished and had to walk around like John Wayne before cycling up hill in wet denim – not a pleasant experience. I’m sure everyone thought I had wet myself.

I diced with death on the flumes and canyon rides, escaping the trains of kids who seemed to ignore the “one at a time” rule and somehow always caught up with me half way down – causing impending panic as I imagined six of the little blighters landing on top of me at the bottom. Fortunately, no lasting damage was done.

Apart from the organised mayhem, the woodland lodge settings were very relaxing and quiet – and I even managed to barbeque without setting fire to the surroundings, which is a plus for future visitors and the elusive red squirrels that I am yet to see. We had a little rabbit that kept visiting our lodge and there was a pheasant that came close a couple of times – had we been in the true wilderness this could have provided dinner, but I don’t think the park rangers would have approved.

So, apart from the five hour drive each way and the lack of any meaningful, warm sunshine it was a good experience. Would I go back, probably, but not before I’ve had some Mediterranean sand in my toes. Now where’s the holiday brochures……