Sunday, September 4, 2011

I Made a Mistake

I made a mistake. It was one verb in one sentence and I wrote it in 1996. It wasn’t a grammatical mistake, it was one of degree. The word, my reader explained, should have been “help,” not “correct,” and it referred to a surgical procedure anticipated by the mother of a deaf child. Deafness cannot be “corrected” although there are implants that will “help” the child hear as long as the implant is in place. The character wasn’t a major part of the story. In fact, he never comes into it again, but someone noticed and was offended. I apologized, but still some damage was done, although my reader was very polite and assured me she enjoyed my book and will order others.

I’ve learned a few things about deafness since 1996 and I’m aware of the controversy over cochlea implants. The situation made me think of other “mistakes” professionals make and whether it’s possible to be a professional anything without making an error over the course of a working lifetime. Doctors certainly make mistakes, hence malpractice insurance. Teachers make mistakes. According to some, the answer is to evaluate teachers on the test scores of their students. Others imposed “No Child Left Behind” which stipulates that all children should test at the proficient level by 2014. Are all children ever proficient? Are all adults? Legislators make mistakes. Californians decided to impose term limits and withhold salaries. Don't we already have term limits called elections? Are we any better off with people who never stick around long enough to gain experience? On the other hand, should the leader of a country lead for 40 years?

Dentists make mistakes, too. Mine certainly did two weeks ago. I needed a long overdue bridge which required crowning two neighboring teeth. A week later I was still in the kind of pain that, without the miracle of Advil, took my breath away. Back I went to the same dentist for an attempted root canal. 90 minutes into the procedure I was referred to a specialist who explained that the root canal might be on the wrong tooth. Sure enough, after another week of pain, many dollars later and 600 mg of Advil every 6 hours, I will endure root canal number two. 

Pain is a funny thing, funny as in strange. It changes a person’s perspective. Logic and reason no longer apply. My dentist is a perfectly nice man, concerned and kind. The endodontist is equally nice. She answered my panicked call immediately. But I’m in pain. I no longer care how nice they are. I hurt and I’m past reason. I want to blame someone. I also want my money back.

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