These, and not in that order (they arrange differently depending on the person), are the most difficult parts of our lives to attend, and what I mean is finding a good optometrist, a good dentist, a good hairdresser/stylist/barber and a good doctor are things that often plague us to the point where a few bad experiences will put us off them for a very long time, perhaps even beyond the point at which we find them necessary.
I found my eye doctor in Toronto relatively quickly, and have been exceptionally happy with him for the past 6 years. He’s friendly and always reassuring, and he exudes confidence without any sense of arrogance or pretension. My optometrist in Thunder Bay was kind of an a-hole, and I stopped going to him after he started ripping me and my dad off for my contact lenses ($75 dispensing fee my ass). For a while, maybe 3 years, I was just picking up contact lenses at various optometry centers, in Wal-Marts or Costco. It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto and found Dr. Leung that I even felt comfortable getting new glasses or seriously contemplating laser eye surgery. After this happened Dr. Leung eventually convinced me that laser surgery would be a drastic improvement on my life, and, over two years after, it still ranks in the top 3 of best decisions I ever made. Dr. Leung rocks.
I have a friend who hates having anything done to her eyes… no eyedrops, no puff of air glaucoma tests, no bright lights. She literally hates the whole procedure. I worry Aden’s wee one (who’s currently down with another eye infection, a throat infection and a gnarly 2-week-old cough) is going to have the same reaction in later years, since there are screams bloody murder any time Aden needs to put eye drops in. The little one also has a hyperactive response to bright lights, sunlight especially. But putting anything near the eyes, or if water gets in them, watch out. This kid needs to have swimming lessons and learn some head dunking and a bit of the chlorine sting to toughen them up a little. Worked for me. I had no problem sticking my finger in my eye daily when dropping contacts in.
Meanwhile, my childhood trauma means I hate getting my hair cut. It’s one of the things from my younger years that still sticks with me, and I hated going. I remember being around 5-years-old and my dad promised to buy me a X-Wing Fighter (well, maybe not specifically that, but that’s what I had in mind) if I went to the barber shop, and I sat through that haircut, hating every minute of it. And did I ever get that X-Wing. I say thee nay.
As a pre-teen I was awkward, monstrous 80’s glasses hiding half my face, absurd 80’s long-bangs or other “trendy” hairstyles done less for fashion (which I had nary a clue about until, maybe 5 years ago, and still am somewhat iffy on) and more for lack of haircut desire. I had for the longest time a side-part with the most absurd of cow-licks which would flap in the wind and drive me crazy (one point in grade 11, I grabbed hold of that cow-lick and snipped it off, leaving a semi-bald patch amidst my long hair). When I was a teen I was even more awkward, sporting a middle part throughout much of high school and at one point allowing my sister to butcher my head, which is captured for all eternity in my grade 11 school photo.
I used to go to the barber in County Fair Plaza in Thunder Bay, a place run and patronized mostly by old Italian men. The only haircut they were good at was a buzz and/or brush cut, anything else was asking too much of them. Then one day they got an honest-to-gosh hairdresser in there, a guy who could actually cut and shape and style. Sure he would lean into you awkwardly while cutting your hair but the price you pay for something decent done to your follicles. He wasn’t ever really around much though, and when I finally steel myself up to getting a haircut, well, I go right then and there with no delay and get it done with, otherwise it’ll be a few more months before I get back the resolve to do anything about my mane.
Since moving to Toronto I’ve had a bit of an adventure in hairstyle. For the first year I decided to try out one or two of the hairdressers on Roncesvalles near home, but I was really not satisfied with either cut, having to actually fix up one haircut myself at home. My home-brew actually turned out pretty nice, and so I wound up buying myself a hair cutting kit, including shears and proper scissors. I clipped myself a couple of times, once really nicely, twice kind of disastrously. Eventually, I took to shearing my head down to stubble (actually it was within the second month of blogging) which I enjoyed doing for quite some time… but I got tired of it after about two years and sought out a hairdresser, finding a new place to get it cut and eventually the best hairdresser I ever had.
I never knew his name.
And his salon closed unexpectedly.
And I couldn’t find him again.
I only ever had three haircuts from him, but I loved every one, even at +$40 it was so totally worth it each time, even if I didn’t like it initially, it always looked good a few days and weeks later. I could trust him to know what he was doing and to do something interesting to my head. After the unexpected end of that relationship, I started doing my hair myself again, manifesting itself as the “Diabolik” cut… which I loved, but found very difficult to sustain without frequent clipping.
After the shear-n-beard growing experiment of 2006, I finally found a place to call hairhome in the Terminal Barber Shop. I’ve been there three times, they treat me well, they cut my hair pretty nicely (even if I can’t really trust them to do anything creative), and they can work a mean straight razor. They take the time to give a good cut, which I appreciate. And it’s not exactly 40 bones either.
Oooh, I don’t like me some dentists. I don’t hate the dentist since I’ve become pretty numb to the shock and pain of oral treatments, but a gentle dentist makes all the difference. Had a great dentist, Dr. Robertson (?) growing up, and he was fantastic with a great staff of hygienists and
receptionists, lots of toys in the office and mom would always take me to Bourqs Drug Mart in Victoriaville after for a toy. It made it quite easy on me. I always hated the fluoride treatments though… they made me gag like nobodys business, especially when they’d stick the goo inside the rubber teeth and pop those in your mouth with the suction thing between them and a drool tray below your chin. I was a mess of slobber and tears every time. God I hated that.
I didn’t have any problems with my teeth, no caveties, until I was a teen and my molars grew in. Deep pits mean I couldn’t properly clean them out with a tooth brush and cavities formed. Oh well, not my fault. I sort of stopped going to the dentist in University, except one time to get my wisdom teeth checked out (and subsequently extracted). I even chipped a tooth once post-university and never did get my mouth checked out in case something was seriously wrong.
I think I went through a six-year (more?) span between 1998 and 2004 before I went to the dentist again, this time finally choosing one at random near my house on Roncey. The hygienist was pretty cool, but the dentist was awful, with no chairside manner, and getting the cavity filled in that I had was a horrendous experience. I didn’t go back, even when they called me for my scheduled check-up. I told them I’d call back. I even got a Christmas card one year from him, but ugh… i wasn’t going back there.
It was Aden prodding me about getting my teeth cleaned and checked up (she’s a religious every-6-months-er) that I finally asked about her dentist. She likes her dentist, whose receptionist also happens to be her mother’s best friend. Her dentist’s daughter is also a dentist who looks after the wee one’s teeth (with nary a complaint)… so I inquired a little more and finally had my first check-up in over two years.
The hygienist was utterly cordial, and then I had the full x-ray and thorough inspection done by Dr. Z, and damn was she thorough. And fun. I can’t say I’ve ever had fun at the dentist but Dr. Z is so bright, cheerful and a bubbly personality that she seems genuinely excited about teeth and oral health care. She had nothing but positive things to say about my teeth and gums and general mouth health (although the typical “floss more” did come up) even though two minuscule cavities popped up on the X-rays. I’m going back next week to get those fixed up, but damn if I’m not actually excited to do so.
Doctors. I had a great pediatrician in Dr. Molson (whom I used to get confused with Dr. Robertson, because Molson sounds so much like “molar”) who had hair in his ears, I fondly remember. Apparently I was a clumsy and frequently sick child, so I probably saw him lots before I can remember, but he treated me well.
I stayed fairly healthy throughout high school and university, missing very few days of school (although sleeping in was always a problem), I think not missing a single day between grade 9 through 11. I was proud of it at the time… Anyway, I hadn’t really much need of doctors for most of my blossoming life, and thus had no fixed doctor. I went to the clinic at Lakehead once for… something which I don’t even recall anymore (probably skin condition), and it wasn’t until Toronto that I found a doctor to, well, kind of call my own.
At my local medical center there’s one doctor I prefer going to, but a couple others who are just as good (and a couple who kinda suck). I’ve been there a lot over the past few years as my body’s metabolism slows down and gets accustomed to the Big Smoke… sometimes they were fruitless visits, other times just for prescription renewals, and sometimes for things that I was a little paranoid over, and sometimes for necessary evils. I’ve never had a bad experience there, and I’ve got the place pretty figured out for wait times, and the good doctors are really good, and I’ve gotten comfortable with them enough as to not feel (too) awkward should they need to do anything… uncomfortable to me. Which is good. It’s nice to have that covered.
Meanwhile, my massage therapist is amazing. She’s fixed me up many many times and is doing so right now. She rules, she’s so damn good at what she does, and she always leaves me with helpful tips for proper stretching and means of avoiding such strains or pains in the future.
The ducks, they’re in a row it seems.
If you’re searching for a good Dentist, Doctor, Optician or Massage Therapist, I can direct you to some of the best people who’ve ever touched or looked at me in wholly inappropriate but completely medical ways.