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family issues

Posts Tagged ‘family issues’

Couftesy of Andeciuala

A couple of days ago, my son and I went to the orthodontist for his consultation. I had decided to forego returning to the orthodontist that treated my daughter because of some issues we’d experienced there (over billing, undertreating, and I really didn’t care for the magazine selection in their waiting room).  Don’t get me wrong. My daughter’s teeth turned out beautifully but I was really not up to supervising “Dr. Smith’s” staff for another 24 months unless he planned to put me on his payroll.

Upon the recommendation of a friend, we ended up at an orthodontist’s office that was tucked into a residential area and looked quite modern…if you time traveled back to 1972.  The flat-roofed building had a very “doctory” look about it and as we walked up to the antiquated entryway, I seriously began to feel as if I was entering some kind of sadistic time warp that had transported me back to my pre-kindergarten checkup — complete with a smiling nurse toting a tray brimming with shots.

When we entered the waiting room, I was surprised by the modern decor and the sheer volume of patients waiting to be seen. I figured most of them must have jogged, bussed, or taken a cab there because there wasn’t much parking space in the small lot. We approached a smiling Terry behind the receptionist’s desk and after I filled out the appropriate paperwork, I expected her to direct us to take a seat until “they” were ready to see Noah.

But instead, she took a deep breath:

“We are soooooooooooooo glad you came to our office to see us today, Noah! Right here [pointing to science fiction-ish-looking contraption] is where you will check in when you come for your appointments. All you have to do is place your finger on this pad and it will read your fingerprint to let us know you’re here.”

Okay…weird. This thing was pretty much right out of a James Bond movie.

“Over here,” she said directing us toward a kitchenette adjacent to the waiting room, “is our refreshment area.” Refreshments? He was getting braces, he wasn’t running a 10k. But as we got closer, I found myself gradually being reeled in. Bottled water, cappuccino, mochas, flavored coffees, teas and…really? Freshly-baked cookies?  I felt my knees weakening…

After a trek through the refreshment zone, Noah was shown the t-shirt he’d be awarded for getting his braces at Dr. Lacy’s office as well as a view of their prize display. Apparently, Noah would be awarded “points” for good behavior. Or shall I say, points for actually wearing his orthodontist t-shirt out in public (and proving he’d done so by submitting a photo to their office). He could also earn points for good grades, being on time, good oral care, and shoveling the orthodontist’s driveway… or something like that. Once he’d “earned” enough points, he could redeem them for anything from a water bottle to video games to an iPod. Weird. I didn’t see anything practical inside that “prize cabinet”… like rebate checks made out to parents.

After viewing the major awards area, we were taken to a long row of sinks where Noah would be able to select a brand new toothbrush in the color of his choice for brushing prior to each appointment, then we proceeded to an area fully equipped with PS3, GameCube, and other trance-inducing arcade-type games. Yah…that’ll be a real treat for Noah. He doesn’t get quite enough time to play video games at home. It’s a good thing that the orthodontist is compassionate enough to supplement that deficiency for him.

We continued on our excursion through the office and Terry the Tour Guide continued to tout all of the “state of the art” bells and whistle luxuries we could experience at 4-6 week intervals during Noah’s scheduled appointments. When she showed us into the last room, I was a bit bewildered when we  didn’t actually enter the gateway to Orthodontia Land complete with a roller coaster, ferris wheel, and merry-go-round.

During this last stop of the tour, Terry took multiple photos of Noah – profile shots, the inside of his mouth, smiling, rolling his eyes – and after the job had been completed, she disappeared for a few moments before returning with a lovely 5 x 7 postcard printed with 8 images from his orthodontic photo shoot and handed them to Noah.

As we waited for Dr. Lacy to meet with us, we were able to “shop” some of the snazzy brace choices – clear, gold, or silver – and drool over the rubber band colors. Laura’s old orthodontic office had a choice of yellow, orange, black, blue, and green. But Dr. Lacy’s selection reminded me of the paint chip display at Home Depot (seriously, what kid needs a choice of three different colors of chartreuse for their mouth?).

When we completed the consultation with Dr. Lacy, I ended up caving and signed Noah up for 24 months of orthodontic work for a whopping grand total of $5800. I was actually surprised that it cost the same as Laura’s treatment did at “Dr. Smith’s” barebones office where the pinnacle feature was a 100 gallon fish aquarium outfitted with two noxious oscars.

Honestly, after we left I was a wee bit ticked off. Why do the kids at this office get all of the fabulous bonuses and luxury prizes? Are they the ones forking out hefty cash for monthly ortho payments or dutifully sacrificing money otherwise earmarked for “someone’s” critical botox treatments? I think not.

I believe this week when I take Noah to his first appointment I will be having a word with Dr. Lacy. A broader magazine selection in the waiting room just won’t cut it for me. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think spa-style massages and pedicures are really that out of line.

What do you make of an office like this? And am I sheltered in not realizing that orthodontic fun parks actually existed? Please comment!

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