I went because Sam (No. 43) had hinted I had bad breath. I was embarrassed and had put it down to the macrobiotic diet, but when I went to the dentist (coincidentally another German) he said:
“Do you have an eating disorder? Do you make yourself sick?”
“Yes.” I’d only imagined conversations like this with Princess Di, I hadn’t told anyone before but it was a relief. The dentist sighed as if all his patients threw up.
“You have gingivitis, it’s the acid when you throw up. I can treat it but we’ll need a number of appointments.”
This was a private dentist, I was too ashamed to go to an NHS surgery. Private would mean private and my secret kept secret, between the two of us.
Dr Merk was testing out all sorts of new German ways of working with state of the art computer technology. I was his guinea pig and we started going to the pub after our appointments. He talked about his PHD and I listened. One evening I told him something about myself – I liked swimming.
“I’ve got a swimming pool” he said, we were both pissed and when the bar closed he took me to his place, a new posh flat (ex warehouse) near Tower Bridge, off Tooley Street, by the river. Very flash. Somewhere in the building was a swimming pool and a gym, I never saw either but in the mornings I enjoyed a river view with coffee.
The dentist was a careful and scrupulous worker on teeth and gums but came quickly in bed and wasn’t much fun (and no swimming) but Dr Merk gave me discounts on the treatment because I had MS. He took out all my mercury fillings (notoriously an irritant for MS) and replaced them with white ones freshly cut from the new computer technology.
Our relationship ended when my treatment ended. A few years later I tried to make an appointment for a filling that had fallen out. I learned that Dr Merk had been struck off, ‘bad practice’ the receptionist said, he had returned to Germany. I have never since seen so much computer stuff in a dentist’s surgery and over the next few years all the new white fillings fell out and were replaced by the NHS, free of charge. Now you have to pay a fortune for a white filing, MS or no MS, NHS or no NHS. How things change.