Monday, June 8, 2015

Farwell to Arm…amentarium

These Daily Grind posts are incredibly informative. Whether technical, logistical, or just fun, I cannot impress on you how much they have meant to me. Writing one a month has only enhanced my own understanding of your experiences. However, I am now facing the fourth in a series of orthopedic surgeries, and this one promises to keep me out of circulation the longest.

Although my hip replacement should be the most successful of the various surgeries, apparently it can pose certain problems in a dental practice. To reach the foot pedal, my right foot is torqued to the outside while the patient virtually lays back on my lap. That movement is contraindicated in the postoperative short-term and may be so in the long-term as well. So while I’m looking forward to being pain-free, I may not be able to return to work—at least not in a timely fashion. I will be under the regular care of a physical therapist for several months. Hopefully the PT will be able to help me negotiate the operatory. But the ones I’ve talked with so far have not been encouraging.

The “normalcy” of life will simply need to take a backseat during my upcoming season of recovery. Following two back surgeries three years ago, I didn’t allow myself adequate time for a full recovery before returning to my practice and I suffered for it. It was a foolish mistake and I plan on now heeding my wife’s advice to take more time before delving back into work and writing.

My patients are asking such questions as: “What do I do if a tooth breaks before you come back?” “What if I have a toothache?” And many of my readers have said: “I just finished ‘I Swear: To Tell the Tooth’ and was looking forward to ‘The Whole Tooth.’ When will that be published?”

But narcotic painkillers simply don’t mix with placing a high-speed drill in someone’s mouth or with good writing. (Edgar Allen Poe I’m not…nor want to be, considering his lifestyle.)

So, for now, I’ll acquiesce to becoming the patient instead of the doc. I may even do as I’m told. I do hope to return to dentistry in a timely fashion. In the meantime, I have some very good practitioners covering while I’m out.

I know I’ll also be anxious to return to writing under my pseudonym, Dr. Carroll James, to complete the third and fourth books in the series. But what I want and what life hands me are often very different things. It’s interesting: My practice is thriving, yet my body can’t keep up. Ever been there?

At least I have a loving family, good friends, and faith. In the end, that’s really all I need.

Jim Rhea, DMD

1 comment:

Unknown said...


I am a doctor of physical therapy and am sorry to hear about your upcoming surgery. It is always good to be pain free, but the loss of work usually takes a toll on anyone for a long period of time.

I am responding because I wanted to let you know that a physical therapist should absolutely be able to help you navigate your office setting by the end of your treatment. I would advise you to take pictures or video of how you practice currently and offer that to him/her as a goal for therapy. There are some precautions that need to be maintained for a few weeks after surgery, including flexing the hip beyond 90 dg, internal rotation of hip and adduction (or crossing midline). However, those restrictions are not forever.

I am not sure where you are practicing, but if I can answer any questions, provide any references or do anything else for you, please email me through my website:

Good luck with the surgery and recovery. It will make a world of difference.

Juanita Benedict, DPT, CEAS II


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