Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Extending our ‘Best Before’ Dates

Among the many things I have enjoyed in my lifetime, I have had the opportunity to appear on stage as a stand-up comedian. Personally, I find a lot of comedy routines today to be filled with objectionable language or focused on insulting certain groups or too topical and, thus, not enduringly funny. Me? I just wonder about things, such as:

  • If you leave sheep out in the rain, will they shrink?
  • How does one plant seedless grapes? 
  • Why do we park in the driveway and drive on the parkway?
  • Does mystery writer Stephen King ever have nightmares?
  • If you make a cow laugh hard enough, will milk come out of its nose?
  • If sour cream is milk that has gone bad, why does it have an expiration date?

Oh, I’ve pondered these things and more. A lot more. I’ve been collecting this kind of stuff for years. It’s fun and really different to do so. But it was that expiration date joke that especially resonated during a recent patient visit.

“Sandy” is a retired school teacher, now well into her 70s. Her recent health has not been ideal. First, she had a cancer scare with a diagnosed tumor. It was removed surgically and found to be benign. Then, shortly after recovering from that surgery, she had her right hip replaced. And last week, she walked into our office, with a normal gait, looking and feeling well, but her oral region had taken a beating due to long hospital stays and intermittent home oral health care. Thankfully, we were able to restore her oral health simply and inexpensively, due to her lifelong habit of seeing us regularly. 

But it was her comment at the end of the appointment that had us all laughing. She commented that she has now entered the period of her life known as her “best before” date. She was bright and cheery stating this, and we thought it was a delightful way to look at aging.

Many of you may also know I am an avid “Star Trek” fan (my favorite TV series is “Deep Space Nine”), and I have been subscribing and listening to the free podcast, “Engage: The Official Star Trek Podcast.” In a recent episode, the host, Jordan Hoffman, was on the first-ever “Star Trek: The Cruise,” and interviewed Ethan Phillips, the actor who portrayed the character Neelix on “Star Trek: Voyager.” I had no idea before listening to this, but Phillips is a funny man. And on this cruise (which I was unable to attend), he held a session to teach people about the art of comedy. Oh, to have been able to attend that session. In the podcast episode, Phillips told a joke (which I cannot repeat here) that illustrated the importance of how words are used in a certain way for dramatic and/or comedic impact. It is the basis for some of the comedy I use in my keynote talk, “Success Is All about Relationships.”

In the January 2017 issue of AGD Impact, AGD Editor Roger D. Winland, DDS, MAGD, wrote about keeping frustrations in perspective. Having a lighter heart, seeing life through the eyes of others with an attitude of abundance, and connecting and enhancing the relationships with our patients will bring us more success — and extend our “best before” dates to a much later time in our lives.

Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA

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