Zombieland Redux

      1. Money Bug - Ric Size

Moneybug — Ric Size

RS: How’s the practice of dentistry going in Zombieland?

DDS: Not pretty. It’s always been difficult enough just doing the dentistry, but on top of everything else now, we’re dealing with the plague of the 21st century: a fast-acting virus that swells your brain; and makes you feverish, hateful & violent.

RS: It’s amazing how quickly things can go from bad– to total shit-storm.  Tell us what happened?

DDS: Check out the photo…

Eustis, Zombieland

Eustis, Zombieland

RS: Whoa, looks like zombie wasteland.

DDS: Actually, that’s just Eustis. I remember just minding my own business, practicing out of a 3-chair dental office, late in the summer of 2013.  It had been the severest economic drought my local-area colleagues & I could ever recall, when an 18-year old black female emergency patient walked-in; needing an extraction of an abscessed upper molar.  She was given an emergency treatment plan with complete fees, which were agreed upon by her & her partner; a 30-year old black male.  Both had clusters of red-flag indicators for crack-cocaine use, which was spotted by my receptionist & myself.  After the tooth was successfully & painlessly extracted, her partner (whom had left) returned to the office even more agitated– refusing to pay the bill my receptionist presented. I was forced to nut-up-or-shut-up, to an out-of-control individual who possibly/likely had a weapon in his vehicle. He finally relented and paid for services, but his anger continued & escalated as he left the parking lot. It shook everyone up, quite a bit. After that, I realized I couldn’t expose my staff and/or my patients to that, anymore.

RS: When friendly & affluent people are driven away by an economic apocalypse; and what’s left are mostly fucked-up monsters, then maybe it’s time to close the practice?

DDS: Exactly. Cutting emotional ties with my staff & the patients I cared for was a difficult decision. I LOVE my staff & auxiliary team. We had treated and gotten to know MANY real patients over the years, who made our lives infinitely richer for the experience; but I can’t expose them to the threats of ravenous zombies, just to make a living.  Many of my long-time patients were shocked & saddened when I made the announcement, but my staff & I knew it was the right decision. It just didn’t make good fiscal sense for me to re-invest in a office in Zombieland. I’m a practicing locum tenens dentist now, and my headaches are much fewer. I still maintain the website for my practice at EustisFamilyDentist.com— totally zombie-free.

RS: That means you travel light, right?

DDS: Nothing but my duffel bag, and the new backpack I bought for carrying my dental tools; I’m pretty good about wearing seatbelts.

RS: It’s been 6+ years since those fuckin’ zombies who run Wall Street, flushed all the decent-paying jobs down the crapper– and there ain’t no gettin’ them back; how is dentistry different today?

DDS: At ground zero [September 15, 2008], most dentists still had steady-to-thriving practices, with plenty of patients who had good-enough paying jobs to afford regular treatment; including occasional restorative upgrades like crowns, bridges, and dental implants. After the financial crash, zombies began to outnumber people; and corporate dental chains undercut traditional solo family practices with their low-end retail approach.  Many real people couldn’t afford actual dental care anymore, and the zombies couldn’t tell the difference.  Many practitioners had already turned to meat, so a mass extinction of solo practices ensued.  As you can see by the illustration above, I was caught up in the wash.

RS: Bummer. In my experience, any practice with more than two locations is a clinic, whose business model is low-cost/ high-volume production; are these the only jobs new dentists can expect to find in the market?

DDS: Yes. Debt for recent graduates is absurdly high; $250,000-$500,000 in many instances now. This puts young dentists on the corporate treadmill, just to make their monthly student loan payments; which can be $5-10+K/ month. Very few high-calibre private practices will hire recent graduates, as they don’t have the necessary skills or experience. Corporate dental chains offer around $150,000-$200,000 per year–depending on production.  Getting paid that, isn’t even really guaranteed.  Do the math: after repayment of student loan debt, there’s not much left for a fledgling dentist to live on.  Today, corporate dentistry is wracked with over-capacity, poor morale, and an upside-down office model that will cause these corporate chains [Aspen, Christie, Coast, Heartland, etc…], to collapse like a house of cards when their day comes. Still, it’s amazing to see how far you can get with costume dentistry & a cut-throat attitude.

RS: Better fasten your seatbelts folks, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.  How can young dentists be expected to learn their profession under such scorched-earth conditions?

DDS: They can’t, for the most part; even though evidence-based dentistry & the Internet have made these graduates smarter & more-prepared than ever for real-world practice. By today’s professional standards, dentists are physicians of the oral cavity & its surrounding structures; diagnosing and appropriately treating: tooth decay, gum disease, TMJ & occlusal diseases, oral cancer, etc.  The erosion of the standard-of-care through the economic warfare policies of lenders, insurance giants, pharmaceutical/supply companies, etc.; has lowered the quality-of-care for most people, despite all the gains in science & technology.  The only practices that are thriving now are the elite, boutique-style offices in the 90210-type districts. That represents about 1% of all the practices.

RS: So, how are you surviving in Zombieland?

DDS: I play it smart and follow the rules– My Rules. Rule # 1: Look yourself in the mirror, every day. Rule #2: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, everybody makes them– that’s why it’s called a practice– it’s how you manage them that counts. Rule #3: Flexibility & Core Strength. Rule #4: Enjoy the little things 🙂

RS: What are your thoughts on organized dentistry?

DDS: The American Dental Association (ADA) is an ossified bureaucracy, just like every other union. The ADA blocks information flow & open discussion on water fluoridation & amalgam safety— just to name two high-profile examples. Capitation insurance (HMO/DMO) has been allowed to eat away at working dentist’s bottom lines while lowering the quality-of-care to patients; as ADA careerists are wined-and-dined & perked by the insurance industry.  Today most wet-gloved dentists are toiling longer & harder, for less.  Most of these practitioners (80% ADA members) have no idea who the ADA president is?  The ADA HQ is in Chicago, Zombieland.  Its presidents are installed, and not constituency elected.

RS: I’ve heard there’s a place untouched by all of this…

DDS: Out west?

RS: Yeah. You heard that too?

DDS: Out mid-west (where I’m from), that say it’s better back east; back east they say it’s better out west–it’s all nonsense.  You’re like the ‘patient’ who needs a root canal/crown vs. an extraction; arguing with me over Tylenol #3 vs. Oxycontin.  I tell real patients after extractions that Tylenol #3 is what you use if Ibuprofen 800mg alone isn’t cutting the pain; most just take Ibuprofen. Those who take a few Tylenol # 3 as needed; often tell me they had to cut it in half, because it’s so strong it made them vomit.  Narcotic-addicted zombies react with disappointment in their corpse-language when I hand them a script for twelve (12) Tylenol #3, which is the maximum number I prescribe. Their protests to my staff & myself always include: not strong enough, not enough, allergy to Ibuprofen & Tylenol #3 — but NKDA to every other strong synthetic opiate known to man, etc…

RS: Wow. People lying & getting in my face like that, would provoke me to make them feel how hard I could punch– even if it was just using words.

DDS: That’s a line that doctors are pulled towards by manipulators & other socio-paths– but can never be crossed. It’s one of the things that really sucks about being a professional in Zombieland.

RS: You seem to have a sick sense of humor when it comes to zombies; do you really hate them?

DDS: I’m beyond hate. This has become a war for survival– real people vs. zombies. We can’t co-exist, because zombies are completely selfish & irrational. If allowed, they will continue to munch on & defecate all over this Earth, until everything decays into a sea of pus.  Once those of us who still think & feel understand that we are ALL orphans in Zombieland, and we come to realize it never really was OUR country to begin with; then we can achieve a permanent socialist revolution, because we truly have nothing to lose.

RS: Time to nut up or shut up; how do you get around & keep in shape?

DDS: I try to blend in– suits my style. I’m active and like to get out and do stuff. Zombies generally don’t mess with their own, so a goofy hat & sunglasses keeps me mostly under their radar. Occasionally, I can bike out to the courts to hit up against the wall; just enjoying the serenity of being the ball…

RS: You expressed that last thought very poetically.

DDS: That’s because I am you, pleased to meet me —  LOVE our Music!!

RS: That’s why we do it. Thank you 🙂

DDS: So, have you considered a collaboration with Eddie Van Halen; any upcoming live shows?

RS: I would have loved to with Eddie, but he’s a zombie; as far as playing live goes– the promoters & venue owners are ALL hardcore zombies, who have it locked up to themselves pretty tight.

DDS: That totally blows…

RS: …my mind is wondering if you have any final, good-for-the-whole-family Pearls of Wisdom?

DDS: Just this: In those moments of doubt after you’ve eaten, when you can still feel the food in-between your teeth; don’t get all stingy with your floss.  Just think, if those edentulous zombies had simply flossed, brushed, improvised with a toothpick, or even rinsed after meals; they could have avoided becoming dental cripples with plastic teeth that don’t work.

RS: Woulda/Coulda/Shoulda

This is Central Florida, signing off from Zombieland



Moneybug– Ric Size

TomP: percussion, backing vocals & production
Craig Roy: bass
Jessica Lynn Martens: violin & backing vocals
RS: vocals & guitar

Hand claps by TomP, BeccaP & RS