Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Band of Brothers. A Reunion Seen From the Year 1865.

Three Southern Civil War veterans got together after one of the most devastating military conflicts ever imagined in history. They mutually bore a monumental vision of reuniting men once formerly locked in mortal combat, men with roots from both the North and South. Formally stated, "to bind men together in a Brotherhood based upon eternal and immutable principles, with a bond as strong as right itself and as lasting as Humanity. To know no North, or South, or East, or West, but to know man as man.  To teach that true men the world over should stand together and contend for the supremacy of good over evil".  That brotherhood established so many years ago was the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. This organization and it's 200,000 present and former members was and is the group of "friends" that I committed to on pledge day my freshman year in college.

That's wonderful Dr. S!  A little history lesson should round out the topic offerings begun here in your blog.  I'll just skim over this one but really can't wait until your next blog when you may have something that might be of interest to me.

Unable to ride my motorcycle this last weekend because of threatening rain storms, I put the top down on my car, had my iTunes playing through my headphones and drove through the Piney Woods of east Texas to Nacogdoches, Texas.  Clouds everywhere.  No rain!  I was in route to the 43rd reunion of my fraternity band of brothers, a destination made by men known and unknown to me from as far away as New York, and as close as right there.

My friend Roger from Houston and I were scheduled to be overnight roomates once again, and as soon as we threw our stuff into the hotel room, a quick phone call to our Brother Brian set our immediate agenda of meeting others who had arrived earlier on Friday.  We met them in the courtyard of another local hotel, and as soon as we arrived my 6' however-many-inches tall Brother Scott from Tyler almost chest-bumped me into the pool.  I made a quick recovery though as he grasped my hand in our familiar ATO handshake and saved me from a watery hail-fellow-well-met!  Brian was there, with his beautiful wife Terri.  Paul and Bruce were there with us. Thus began our Reunion weekend!

Without going into more detail here than is required, apparently Roger and I looked somewhat dehydrated and sickly to them at the moment of our arrival because as soon as we sat down, Scott ordered us something to drink to help us through the next few minutes. They thought something called Shock Top would be an appropriate remedy, and after a few minutes under their care both Roger and I really did start to feel better after our journeys.

As do we all, I have "friends" on many branches of my friend tree, from different life stages past and present.  These friends are mostly all alike, as is expected.  We draw those to us who are like us.  But no one told me in the Life Instruction Manual that all these friends of mine would make life so rich in these days of ARP magazines (hotel discounts!) and snap, crackle, pop, associated with bones and movement, not cereal!

Some of my loves:

I love my wife!  Period. 
I love my children and in-law children. Period.
I love my dogs and in-law dog.  Period.
I love my motorcycle. Period.
I love my motorcycle. Period.
I love practically every waitress that I have ever met, especially those that bring you coffee and punctuate their conversation with "Sweety" and "Darlin".  This last group most always have a rebound quip for any comment that you think they have never heard before.
I love my present cholesterol and blood pressure numbers compliments of medications 1X/day, po by mouth.
My motorcycle is a Honda VTX 1300.  Bagger.  Cruising bike. Windshield.  Custom seat. "Loud pipes, save lives."  Period.


You who are my friends, thank you for including me in your phone contact list!  Thank you for greeting me on sight without looking around to see who's watching.  Thank you for memories dear, and for opportunities to make more future memories with you and yours. Fodder for future blogs I consider.  We are friends by choice and the richness that you bring to my life is Life itself.

And there is One who is closer than a friend!  And if you had ever walked as I have, blindfolded, led by a "friend",  the symbolic and literal outline of the 200,000, you know exactly what I have said!

Dr. S

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Current View of Dental Xrays and Brain Tumors

One can always find a dental topic in the media today, and the latest one comes out of Yale University School of Medicine and Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.  The title of the report is "Dental X-rays Linked to Brain Tumors".  Our office has had questions regarding the findings and I will try to lend some insight.

There have been several "loose" studies completed in the past on this very subject.  What I mean by "loose" describes a very small number of test group people or a test resulting in somewhat inconclusive data.  This latest report has a much larger testing group and defines it's results with recommendations that can be considered by most dental offices.

I do not consider all reports nor all recommendations found in their respective journals to have practical worthiness just because they are published.  For instance, the "amalgam wars" have been going on since this material was introduced over a hundred years ago with recommendations for it's use and non-use from each camp.  I used dental amalgam (silver filling) material probably in the first 10-12 years of my practice.  When composite (tooth colored, bonded filling) materials were introduced, I did not immediately embrace the technology.  I allowed others to embrace the technology and then read their submitted reviews positive or negative, and made clinical decisions based on current literature and these reviews by my peers.  I try to stay and year or two behind the "cutting edge".  I do this in my dental philosophy and I do it with my iPhone/iPad, etc. (excitement technology) as well!

With the current report, it has validity to me due to it's structure and objectivity, and because of this, it makes recommendations that can be taken to heart by dental practitioners.  The recommendations suggested is for x-rays on a periodic average of 2-3 years for adult patients with other recommendations for kids, special needs and geriatric folks.  In my opinion based on 30 years chairside, I do not embrace 3 years at all.  Two years would be the extent of my comfort zone and individual clinical indications, medication use and type, habits or lack thereof would dictate radiography on an as-needed basis.  For instance, there are so many people taking meds today that have dry mouth as a symptom. Dry mouth means cavities.  Period.  Or folks with an unapologetic soft drink habit or "sweet" habit need to be radiographically examined every time they are routinely seen.  Changes occur so fast in these type of cases that it is almost inexcusable to not know exactly what is happening with these folks.  The consequences of inattention can be sudden, intense and disasterous.

What I hope will not happen but that I anticipate will be a debating point are folks who will take this report as a reason to not take needed, appropriately suggested x-rays, much of this resistance based on financial considerations.  This can, like in most everything in life, boil down to money.  Dental radiographs cost money.  If there are any dangling financial branches out there to grab in orer to keep as much of our hard earned money in our pockets as possible, we look for reasons to grab!  I don't blame anyone for being responsible with their exchequer. As for my patients I will continue to make recommendations about x-rays or any other treatment needs based on what I would do for my own family. 

Life is a daily learning forum and I love what modern dentistry can offer patients today.  I learned from this report and encourage everyone to take all information out there from their individual dentists and the media, mull over what is being said and proposed, and make decisions based on knowledge and trust.

Someone smarter than I wrote the following:

     There is a price to pay for education.....
          There is a price to pay for ignorance.

     There is a price to pay for good health.....
          And there is a price for sickness and disease.

     There is a price to pay for attending to relationships.....
          And a price to pay for neglecting them.

     We cannot choose whether or not we will pay.....
          We can only choose for what.

Dr. S

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Concept of My Friend "Bewley"

I must be very careful today on this blog.  Things said here can certainly have future implications that may prove embarrasing at the very least.  Years from now there will be an accounting of every idle word spoken.  Says that in the New Testament and this judgement occurs on the other side of the veil.  I have a concern with this judgement, but My God tells me that I am His because of my relationship with His Boy, but this is not that to which I am referring.  The implications I am thinking of now are referred to by the professionals as "committment procedings".  Karen will very likely be present. This meeting is where you are surrounded by many caring people trying to find you a new place to live.   Things said in the early, mid and late quarters of your life, or today, are reminisced and discussed in detail in these get-togethers!

My friend's name is "Bewley".  Not even my wife or children know about him.  He's never been brought up because people quickly run with these things further than they need to go and land on negative ideas and old movies like "Three Faces of Eve", "Sybil" and "Harvey".  Bewley is my conscience.  He acts so many times like a Devil's Advocate, asking the uncomfortable questions on a matter or just saying stuff to get a reaction.  Doing and/or saying the things that Dr. S would not do or say.  My wife has seen Bewley on many, many occasions and confused him with me, much to the chagrin of all three of us. 

Now listen.  You have a Bewley too!  We all have him, or her. Some people have both him and/or her but that's another blog!  For instance, when a car cuts you off in traffic, Dr. S says or thinks "there but by the Grace of God go I".  I try to take the high road on most of these occasions.  But fun-loving Bewley has yet another perspective on these occasions, and he's very vocal when he expresses his perspective, though only in my head.  Oh my!  Get this.  He will say something like "that little s _ it h_ _d just cut me off.  That just pi_ _es me off and I'm shooting him the finger, though in reality it's beneath the dashboard, even below the gear shift console and not really in view.  But it would look from the outside that I was doing and thinking all this, but it's not. 

Bewley's a funny guy, but he's not stupid and at times like these he defers to Dr. S's civility.  He wouldn't actually show the motorist this provocative gesture because that person may have an imaginary friend too, and a gun!  And this perosn might even hear voices from regions of his imagination where Bewley doesn't even go.  This last thing is a bit scary because I overhear so many things that brew inside Bewley and they're disturbing, but again, "there but by the Grace of God........". 

I have written all this above so that I can let Bewley tell you a funny thing.  This last weekend in Austin we both overheard a country western song that just cracked us both up.  The title of the song is just is hysterical!   That's why country western music is so dad-gum good.  But do you know that I just listen to it when I am in my car on some road trip.  THE only time that I listen to C and W,  eat corn nuts and wash it down with a diet coke, and this coming from a dentist.  (Oh wow, this may be the dental segment that I promised on my blog but as yet have not delivered.  Here it is: don't eat corn nuts and wash it down with diet coke.  Unless you're on the road.  It's bad for your teeth. And the sound of crunching corn nuts drowns out the radio according to my wife). 

Here's the song title I was knee-slap laughing about and credit you getting to read this on my blog to Bewley: 

"It's Hard To Kiss the Lips at Night that Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long".

When you think about this title, and if I don't say anything more right now, I am 99% sure you are slappin' your knee and throwin' your head way back!

Dr. S

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Here's The Thing About Women

A young fellow was referred to my office today by his fiance for a New Patient exam.  He was in pretty good shape dentally and we had a nice get-to-know-you chat before we settled down to the business we had set before us.  But during that chit-chat I just had to laugh.

Pure and simple, he is getting married this weekend and was getting his teeth checked and cleaned for the big event.  According to his records, he hadn't graced the halls of a dental office in 5 years or so.  But at the suggestion of his bride-to-be, here he was!

Further chit-chat.  He had also just had a manicure and a pedicure, and you can suppose that those were not his idea either.  He didn't NOT enjoy them.  He did them, liked the results and didn't even act surprised when his Love mused that this might be the beginning of many of these pamperings to come.  He was taking it all in stride mind you.  There was no feigning of disgust or displeasure in his voice or eyes.

What he said next is probably what made me think that this might be worthy blog material.  He admitted that he does not dance.  Nothing against it, just never did.  Now this fellow has a very pleasant appearance, dresses appropriately and is as smart as an attorney needs to be.  But cummulatively, he just never felt called to get a manicure nor a pedicure nor to dance.  But for the last 3 or so months, he has been taking dancing lessons, and by his own words will perform Saturday night with his new wife a combination fox trot, rumba and salsa (spelling??), and he's doing all this because he wants to please this woman who is soon to become his wife. 

In the wonderful movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", the mother of the main female character is talking to her daughter about how things were in life and I will never forget one of her lines.  She said, "the man is the head of the house. But the woman is the neck.  And she can turn the head any way she wants!"  And folks, that's about the way it is.  Women can make men do things that they never imagined that they would do, many times enjoying it and oftentimes thinking that it was their good idea to begin with.  I do that.  Regularly.  And we men are under the assumption that men run this world, and that's probably the opinion that most women are comfortable with us having!

I have one wife and two daughters.  I work with 4 women daily and have for the last 30 years. My favorite female Yellow Lab Belle died a few years ago but I still have her picture on my screen saver at work.  I used to sit in a room years ago when my mother had ladies over to our house to play bridge and I just listened to their stories and patter.  One of them would crack a little lady joke, and they would all smile and laugh and laugh and at the very end of their laughing, there would be a short pause and then always one of them would have a trail-off phrase of "Oh, shooooooooooooooot".  I didn't know how much I enjoyed just being a fly on the wall then.  I still do to this day.

This young fellow that I met this morning is going to have a wonderful life.  I'll bet a quarter.

Dr. S

Monday, April 9, 2012

Oh Wow! My New Blog!! Tap. Tap. "Am I On?"

OK, here's the thing.  I was traveling back from the Austin area Easter afternoon with a dear fellow Dentist friend of mine, Dr. Chris.  We had been visiting some other mutual friends at their ranch about an hour outside of Austin in the beautiful Hill Country. We count three of these Easter get-togethers under our belts, so now it's our traditional Easter event complete with kids and animals.

Maybe this is all extraneous information really, except for the fact that with the new Hill Country spring pollens and allergens flying around now, my friend and car companion Dr. Chris had been suffering with the sneezy, watery, clogged-sinus rigors associated with ourTexas season. He swallowed the appropriate dosage of his antihistamine, sudafed, decongestant pill thing, along with a few Tylenol for good measure!  Consequently I drove his SUV back to Dallas so that we don't weave over into some farmers' pasture.  (We actually saw the aftermath of two such accidents on the way back! Cows, goats,  Highway Patrol milling around.  Quite the scenes, ...................................................             but                 I              digress. 

Give two dentists 4 hours of alone time in a car and the conversation will eventually end up talking shop.  Plus my buddy was loaded up on the Claritin/Allegra D sudafed thing. In his mental mist he suggested that I might consider starting a BLOG of some sort so that my patients and friends could see just what goes on in my head and indicated that I might have some flair for it!   (Really??  But you know what?? How much fun is it to be at NorthPark Mall by the fountain and just people watch after you've taken some Claritin?  Isn't blogging just electronic people watching?")  And besides, my youngest daughter has a blog of her own so I have a built-in mentor to help me through the anxious start up phase.

My goal with this blog is to share suggestions and insight into dentistry, current trends, helpful hints, that sort of thing.  And also, personal observations and things that simply come my way from which others might benefit.  If I got something out of it, you could too, right?  We are all involved in the human condition and I know how often something said to me at just the right time and circumstance in the past has oftentimes been a game-changer! 

That's it.  More later!  Floss the one's you want to keep!  No charge.

Dr. S