A True GAP Year Experience

Isabel Nardi - Ecuador


October 17, 2014

It all started with a simple toothache.I had decided this was the universe telling me either I was eating too much food or I was meant to stay with my Quiteño family for a few extra days to solve my issue. I rolled into classes Monday and informed my team leader of my pain asking if I could go to the dentist. Initially I was in no rush to go, for two reasons. One, because Wednesday night is salsa night which is something I was not, am not, willing to miss. And two, because my days are limited with my Quito family, whom I absolutely adore. After a morning of, “How to Teach English as a Second Language” classes came to an end, I strategically ate my lunch fully aware that I was not about to forgo the piece of chocolate cake that waited for me at the bottom of my lunch bag (imagine a chocolate tres leche cake, yeah now you’re with me). As you can see, my priorities are in order. However, Monday continued on and my mouth began to throb, the pain shooting higher into my gum. I walked over to Spanish classes only to hear the most miraculous news, I had a dentist appointment at 3:00.

I was taken to a Quiteño dentist who told my team leader I had an infection and the only solution was to get the tooth removed. Honestly, if a stranger had offered to remove my tooth on the spot I would have consented. To complicate things, it was actually a crown not a tooth, thanks to an airhead that broke it a few years back. I decided a second opinion was in order and I was then informed not only did the tooth have to be removed, so did my two wisdom teeth! When in Ecuador, am I right? In a matter of two hours, I had had two consultations, three medications prescribed to me, and an appointment to get my infected crown and two wisdom teeth removed.

The only thing I had to figure out was how to obtain the money to pay for the procedure. Sounds simple, right? Well due to “suspicious activity” on my debit card, the bank froze it’s use. So I was in a bit of a pickle. Fortunately, with the help of my parents I was able to work it out.

I sat in the waiting room waiting for my team leader to arrive so I could fill out paperwork pre-sedation. I was called to the room before he arrived and attempted to tell the dental assistant that I needed to wait for my team leader. He kept saying, despues, despues, or after, after. Finally I agreed. I thought, this will only add to my dental adventure. Post wisdom teeth videos are always hilarious. People dropping bombs to their parents or reassuring the dentist of their good looks. Parents – all kids are secretly fearful that they will spill their secrets while under laughing gas.

Let me tell you, that was not a problem of mine. In the midst of worrying about my team leader arriving, the dental assistant started quickly rattling off questions in Spanish. I threw out Si’s and No’s without thinking twice. He began to numb my gums. The dentist came in a few minutes later.

“Ready?”

“Si”, I responded, “but are you going to sedate me?”

He turned around, “You answered no to that question. It is very late for that.” My thought: of course I did. One single tear rolled down my cheek and I thought, here goes an experience that will supply me with a fun fact for the rest of my life.

Update: I am alive and well despite the fact that I will be toothless for the next three months. I survived it. There were moments of stress throughout this experience and a few Facetime tears with my momma but it was a moment, one that can not outweigh the fabulous time I have been having overall.

BIG thank you to my parents for being so relaxed throughout it, Eugenia for finding me the best dental service in all of Ecuador, Mami Bachi for nursing me back to health and lastly, Alex for being the best dental buddy anyone could ask for.

Props to Ecuador for the fastest medical turnaround I have ever experienced.

Isabel Nardi