Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I want to be a dentist

Hi all,

This funny story provided by my daughter. As you may know, she is eight.
In church, one of our pastors was doing the announcements before we started singing songs.
He was going over church services for Palm and Easter Sundays.
Then he holds up a paper bag and explains to the church body that this is the project we are going to be doing together.
He goes on to say that these bags are going to be at the doorway to take home. Each family was to take a bag home and fill them up with clothes and canned food. Then we will be giving them away to people that need them.
I looked over at my daughter and said, "Well, that is nice do you want to do this?"
She said, "Yeah (in a very excited tone)".
Then I leaned over and asked, "Do you have a lot of clothes you want to give away?"
She said, "WHAT?!!"
I said, "Yeah, you fill the bags up with clothes and you give it away to people that need it."
She said, "Oh, NO, I don't want to do this."
Turns out she thought we would be the ones receiving the bags.
Not as excited about the fact that she was going to have to give up something.
That's the Easter spirit Madison.

The book I am reading is called Father Joe. It was given to me by a friend. I am about 25% through it and so far it is not my style. It is suppose to be funny but so far nothing, I almost cracked a smile once.
I will let you know.

I am watching Pineapple Express. It is taking me forever to watch it because my wife won't watch it with me. So I have to watch it when I am alone and that is like never.
I had a friend tell me it was one of the worst movies he has ever seen.
I have to tell you, I am enjoying it. It is all about marijuana and I don't know why, I like pot humor.

I know I haven't mentioned How I Met Your Mother in awhile. I still like it.
I am now into 24 so we do that now.
Okay here it is, all the shows we TiVo. The Unit, Life, Chuck, ER, Flashpoint, Hell's Kitchen, and American Idol.
Now you are thinking this is a lot of TV, but if you watch it without commercials it goes so fast. You can watch three hours of TV in about one hour and fifteen minutes.
We watch two hours of American Idol in about 35 minutes. We listen to the singing and then the judges (except for Paula, I fast forward through her) and it goes so fast.
The American Idol judgement show...20 minutes tops.

I have a friend who has a son. His son is interested in dentistry.
Now this is not an informed decision on his part. I have to tell you that most people that are interested in dentistry don't know a thing about what being a dentist.
I can tell you when I went to dental school I had only been to three different offices my whole life. My fathers, my oral surgeons and my orthodontist.

Now how can we be informed if we don't get out there and see what it is all about.
I wanted to be a dentist because my dad seemed to a have a pretty good life.
That was it....that was how I based my life altering decision.
I, now, recognize all the great thing this profession possesses.
The opportunity to heal. The opportunity to work with people. You have a talent that can be given away...in this country and out of this country. You can pick your own hours. You can work in air-conditioner all day.
This is the type of profession that is what you make it. If you want a high stress environment you can make it that way. If you want a fun environment...go right ahead.
So I go into college with absolutely no idea what being a dentist is all about and I am going to spend the next 8 years making this uninformed decision happen.

Now, my friends kid is as smart as they come. He was the valedictorian of his class and really didn't have to work hard.
Now he has picked a very hard university to get his undergraduate degree. Very hard to get in.
Only one problem...all the people going to this school were valedictorians.
Oh and he clepped out (Do they still use this word? He took AP classes in high school and doesn't have to take it in college) of basic chemistry.
So he is in his second semester of freshman year and is taking Organic Chemistry and the second semester of Biology and Calculus II.
So it sounds like he has bit off a little more than he can chew.

Now the issue is he is struggling. He is getting C's for the first time in his life.
Now we all know that Biology, Calculus and Organic are all weed out classes. They are meant to break down people. They are there to chew up young budding doctors and spit them out.
So he calls his mother last week and tells her he is thinking about changing his major and forgetting the whole dentist thing.

He probably has pretty crappy study habits (because he was never challenged in High School) and he is away from home for the first time in his life. He has his first girlfriend. There are more distractions in college than in the Playboy mansion.
So you can imagine what he is going through.
I went through it and if you went to college you probably went through it.
I think this is why I drank so much in college (also because it was fun and all the girls liked me when I drank). I was self medicating. I was depressed because I thought I was working hard and I was in constant fear that I was going to drop out.
I didn't have a support group, at least nothing like my family, the ones that loved me for just being me.
My support group at school was my drinking buddies.

So I called him.
I wanted to tell him that he was not alone.
I wanted to encourage him. I want him to know that he is going through things that we all have been through.
I told him a story about my Organic Chemistry class.
I had terrible study habits. I would study and thought I was studying hard but it was in between concerts, intramural sports, all the Gator sports I had to watch, my girlfriend and my drinking (I didn't tell him this last part).
Back to Chemistry....I had a 54% average after 2 tests and there were only four tests and a final.
I went the professors office to tell him I am dropping his class.
He said, "What is your name kid?"
Then I realized this guy was not going to let me out of his office without a fight.
He said, "What do you want to be when you grow up? Let me guess you want to be a doctor or a dentist or vet or something don't you?"
"Well, yes sir, I want to be a dentist?"
"John, do you think Dental school is going to be easier or harder than my entry level Organic Chemistry class?"
"Yes, John. It is going to be harder. Now how about you NOT drop this class and you learn to study Organic the way it is suppose to be studied.
I want you to get a stack of 500 3x5 cards and write down all the equations. Then, for the next 7 more weeks of this class I never want you to be without this stack of cards. I want you to sleep with these cards, I want you to go to the bathroom with these cards, I want you to go to church with these cards."
Then he said, "John, do you have any money?"
I said, "Well, my dad has money."
He said, "Good. Then you are going to pay my best teacher's assistant to tutor you. You will meet him here every Wednesday at 5pm, how does that sound?"
"Great?! I guess."

I was able to drop a test in this class. So I kept my best test grade to date...a 56.
My next test I got a 80. The next test I got an about a 87 and on the final exam, which was cumulative, I got an A.
Not only did I learn to study, I learned what it took to be successful. I learned the sacrifice.

I told this young man that I was pulling for him. I told him that I wanted him to be happy. And if he wanted to be a dentist it was going to be hard. But it was worth the sacrifice.
I didn't tell him that he needed to slow down the partying. I didn't tell him he needed to lose the loser friends that were going to drop out soon anyway. I didn't tell him he needed to give more and then when you think it is enough, then give a little more.
I told him I was praying for his success. Even if he didn't become a dentist.
What else could I do?
Sometimes that is all a kid needs. Is to know that he is not alone in his struggles and that there is a end to the means.
That is what Dr. Shanns did for me.

Have a great Wednesday,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ghost writer


I can't talk right now. I am finishing up my last patient and I am heading off to a spring training game.
But a couple of things,
Finished the book and on to the next one. I can't remember the title. I will tell you on Monday.
I am so happy that Duke lost. Now that the Gators are out of it (I mean really out of it) all I had to hope for was that Duke lost. And they did. My world is now complete.

I read a bunch of other blogs and this one was very poignant.
I thought I would share it with you, with the authors permission.

We are doing a fascinating series at church called Practical Atheist: Are you who you say you are?
Here’s a definition: “The distinguishing characteristic of these people is that they live as if God did not exist. God makes no difference in their lives. This is ‘practical atheism.’ We all know people like this. Some of us hardly know anyone not like this. And sometimes we live this way ourselves.” –Dinesh D’Souza.
Hello conviction. The sermon series (and accompanying Bible studies) have titles like “I believe in God, but I trust in money” (yup). “I believe in God, but I don’t know Him” (yup - bec. that takes discipline I often don’t have). “I believe in God but I don’t want to go overboard” (yup - no one likes a fanatic). This is hitting a little too close to home, people. I guess that’s what good preaching does. Ouch. I like that our pastors make us squirm, and they squirm right along with us. I am far too devoted to my own comfort and the praise of man - and this often translates to a life that, for all intensive purposes, is godless.
So here is a great quote from the sermon series, from Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy:
“There are two powerful effects that the gospel of grace has on a person who has been touched by it. First, the person who knows that he received mercy while an undeserving enemy of God will have a heart of love for even (and especially!) the most ungrateful and difficult persons. When a Christian sees prostitutes, alcoholics, prisoners, drug addicts, unwed mothers, the homeless, the refugees, he knows that he is looking in the mirror. Perhaps the Christian spent all of his life as a respectable middle-class person. No matter. He thinks: ‘Spiritually I was just like these people, though physically and socially I never was where they are now. They are outcasts. I was an outcast’….The second major effect that the gospel of grace has on a person is that it creates spontaneous generosity.”
Conviction again. I don’t like ungrateful and difficult persons. I don’t really care if prisoners are mistreated, I feel angry toward unwed mothers who pop out babies to get more welfare dollars, I often dismiss the homeless as people who didn’t try hard enough. But if I really “get” that God had to die on a cross for me, then I would admit to myself I am NO DIFFERENT than these people. We all have a deep well of need that cannot be filled with other people (although God created us to desire human fellowship and that is certainly a good thing). But I should fear God’s opinion and worship Him, not man. This is really good stuff, but I don’t like it because it challenges my carefully cultivated self-image (hard-working, nice wife, mom, and lawyer who contributes to society) and the accompanying misperceptions I hold so dear (I deserve what I have, I’m not so bad, etc.).

Man, do I so identify with this.
Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hoochie Mamma

Hi all,

The book I am reading is called Marine Sniper. Funny a book about a marine that is a sniper called Marine Sniper, what a concept.
It is very good. I can't wait to get home to finish it off.

Anyway on Monday I gave you a homework assignment.
Did you watch the videos?

Lets start with David goes to the dentist.
I was reading a blog and there were some mothers that were upset about this video.
Saying the dad was irresponsible. Saying that no one is protecting this kids dignity. They were saying they were outraged.
I got to tell you. I didn't have too many problems with this video. I didn't think it was that funny but I got a chuckle out of it.
Do I think the father acted inappropriately? No.
Do I think the father could of acted a little bit more responsible? Yes
Do I think if my son was acting this way and I got a video of it would I put it on YouTube? Probably (if I could figure out how to do it).
I think laughing at ourselves is important.
I think if we take ourselves too seriously then we are not laughing at things that are indeed funny.
I mean is running through the house naked because there is fire in the kitchen funny? Heck Yeah.
You have to understand the fact that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the show America's Funniest Home Videos. I about pee my pants every episode. My wife doesn't hate it but she doesn't think it is that funny. I think a woman sitting on a horse at a birthday party and then the horse bucks her off is funny.
I think a grandpa trying out a motorcycle for the first time and runs the thing right through the barn and then the barn falls on the car is FUNNY.
Real life....sometimes it if funny.
Do people have an unhealthy obsession with seeing people hurt themselves? I think yes. But I don't think this David video crosses the line.
As a parent I can see so many other things that David's dad could have done.
I mean the kids dad did take him to the dentist and have his issues taken care of.
I mean how many 2 year olds do you see not buckled up in the car.
How many kids are in mouth pain because there parents want nicer cars more than they want to fix the kids teeth.
This is a problem...not David going to the Dentist.

Now I do have a bit of a problem with this video.

Okay I am not a prude but I think I may becoming one.
I think this girl is cute as a button. I think girls dancing is great...my daughter was in dancing.
But my problem is what dancing and dancing class has become.

What brought this on is because I of a couple of things.
I went to a health fair for a middle school. I volunteered a booth. I set up my stuff for my office in a gym and people walked around.
The entertainment during the day was the local dance studio putting on numbers.
I was a little shocked by how provocative the dancing was.
Then a couple of weeks ago I went to a Magic game and the half time show was the Magic Dancers with some young (eight years old to maybe 14) wanna be dancers dancing together.
I was not only shocked but I was offended.

First of all I can appreciate dancing and woman dancing in unison and such.
I have a problem with them being half dressed and having to look at all their voluptuousness bouncing around. I have a problem with woman being gawked at like they are strippers.
Now then you throw in the 8-14 year olds that are half dressed, all made up in the face and then dancing provocatively.
I wanted to slap their parents.

There is a difference between dancing and being gawked at.
Men are visual. I mean very visual. Do you really think men are watching 20 something woman dancing saying, "I really like that move". No!!
The woman, and the people putting the woman on the court, want men to sit around and elbow each other and say, "Ooh, that one is hot."
"Yeah, man my favorite is that one there."
Then we are suppose to look at this 14 year and say, "I like her moves"?

I can tell you when I saw this going on at half time, I wasn't hungry but I took my son and left the viewing area to go get something to eat.

I want to talk more about this because obviously I have opinions
but I have to go. I have to take my son to a baseball game and he has to be there early for pictures.
Talk to you Friday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Video review

Hi all,

I had a pretty uneventful weekend.
My wife and I watch a movie called Heat. I thought it was a new movie but when I got it it was made in 1995. It was with Pacino and DeNiro.
It was pretty good.
I am reading a book about a Sniper in the Vietnam War. It is really good.
I don't have it in front of me but I will get you the title soon.

Oh, on Saturday morning I got my back waxed.
Yeah, you heard me right. I don't know if you know this but I am one hairy mutha.
So I had this long standing patient come in and told me she really is in pain but doesn't have any money to pay. She is a cosmetologist so she didn't pay but left a gift certificate to her salon.
So I don't really trust her with doing my wife's nails or toes so what else is there?
So it is getting close to swimming season and I hate offending people when I come close to their kids so I went and did it.
Has anyone ever done this?
Well let me tell you something. It hurts like a !@$#$%@#$%#$^$% .
I had to to please ask her to stop a couple of times.
I wont get into all the details but...it is very weird feeling fabric on my back.

Today real quick I want you to look at two videos. If you are computer people there is a real good chance you have seen both of these videos.
As a parent I have my opinions (I know what you are thinking, me with an opinion) about both of these and I am going to talk about them on Wednesday.

The first one is this little girl (I think I read she is 4) dancing to Beyonce's song Single Ladies. This video is split screen. On one side is the real video and the other is the little girl trying to emulate Beyonce.

The second video is the kid that just came home from a dental visit. Apparently he is just coming out of some sort of conscience sedation and talking all crazy.
Have a look...

I am sorry about the shameless plugs on this video. I couldn't find the original without the ads for the dentist or the T-shirts.
I want to know what you think about these videos.
I think it would be fun to debate these videos.
If you are not a parent I would also like for you to tell me what you think.

Talk to you on Wednesday.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fire, fire

Hi all,

I hope everyone had a good week.
My week has been very tough.
Let me tell you why...
I moved into my house about 5 years ago. Before we bought the house the previous owners built out the garage to make a mother-in-law suite. So this house had a carport, not ideal but not a deal breaker either.
We did about 7 months of renovations before we moved in and a week before the move in we got to meet Charlie. That is Hurricane Charlie.
Charlie knocked down my neighbors HUGE oak tree (and when I say huge, I mean huge) and it smashed in the car port. It was not that big of a deal because it could have been a lot worse.
So for the last 4 years or so we wanted to do something with this area of the house.
I did not want to go into debt to do it but I wanted a garage.
About 2 and half years ago I had an architect friend draw me up some plans for the garage. I think I paid him $500.
Then I started to price out what it was going to cost to build the garage. This was an attached two car garage...nothing major. I got three quotes and they all were about $45,000.
I was so discouraged. I would never get a garage because I sure as hell am not going to pay that kind of money for four walls, a roof, and a garage door.
But one thing that was a problem was that we were having draining problems in that area of our house. If it rained, literally, there would be 3 inches of standing water in the area of the carport.
This had to be changed.
So I paid to have the old driveway torn up and the carport area. This prepared the area for the garage. At the same time I went ahead and had them put footers and the foundation while they were making me a new driveway.
So for the last year and a half we have the slab and a new driveway (ready to go at a moments notice).
I have this friend/patient who is into me for some dental work. So we decided that he would build me my garage and I would pay for the materials only.
He looked at the plans and said no problem. He ordered the trusses and all the wood.
He started this Tuesday.
It took until about 9:30am until he called me with the first problem.
He said the $1500 trusses that we ordered are wrong.
Then he tells me the reason they are wrong is because the drawings are wrong.
So he was blaming the architect. Yeah the guy who I haven't talked to since I paid him the $500, over two years ago.
What am I going to call him up and blame him?
The builder guys says usually if the drawings are a guess, they would say something like "verify in the field" or something like that. So because of the fact they didn't say this he went a head and ordered the trusses sight unseen.
So I think they are both to blame.
But you knew who gets screwed? Yeah, you guessed it. ME.
It is going to cost $650 for new trusses. Because the truss guy felt bad for me he made the second set at cost.
Just the cost of doing business with friends.
But I told my friend the contractor, from now on I am holding you responsible. No more blaming other people. Check everything twice because it is you I am coming after.
So that was my Tuesday. Having to walk around with my phone in my pocket and know that I was losing money as I worked.
I got home and drank a beer. I almost never do this but this was the perfect day.

My Wednesday...well this is where it gets a little funny.
Let me preface this next part by saying, I am not any good in the kitchen.
I use to be average but since my wife does everything in the kitchen I have become completely useless in the kitchen.
So when she has to leave for a dinner or something and the kids and I have to fend for ourselves. It is not pretty.
So after a couple of nights when she was gone and the kitchen looks like a complete disaster and I am pissed because I couldn't handle it, she has taken over.
So now when she leaves she has everything laid out for me with specific instructions.
So Wednesday comes around and she has to be out. She has prepared every one's favorite...tacos.
The meat has been cooked and seasoned. All I have to do is get the condiments out and heat up the taco shells.
We get home from soccer practice and we are going to do this take a shower and get ready for dinner thing together.
I start preparing the kitchen and my two oldest take showers.
I then put the taco shells in the toaster oven and have the lettuce, cheese, salsa and sour cream out.
The two oldest come out of that end of the house and are going to set the table and get drinks out while I take my youngest to take a shower.
By the way, did you see the mistake in the above part of this story.
Well me neither.
But did you know that you are not suppose to put taco shells in the toaster.
So when Noah and I are all lathered up in the shower Luke comes in and says, "Fire".
I said, "What?!!"
He said, "The toaster is on fire!"
Well in situations like this the first thing you have to do is take an assessment. In a second or too you have to decide, Is he lying and just messing with me, is this a small thing or large thing, then you have to decipher if the situation is urgent or not. Then you have to assess if you don't handle the problem what will the repercussions be.
So within a second I assessed, not lying, big problem, it is an urgent situation and if I don't do something right away the consequences would be dire.

Okay I have to act fast. But you see there is a problem... I AM NAKED (and full of soap).
I run out of the shower and then run to the kitchen butt naked (holding the important parts).
I get to the kitchen and sure enough the toaster it on fire, well the tacos in the toaster are on fire.
The toaster is bellowing with smoke. I open the toaster and that just allows oxygen in and the fire blows out of there. So I shut it and just have to let it burn.
I open the windows and sure enough there is a nice breeze INTO the house.
So after a minute or two the tacos are pretty much charred by still on fire. I take a couple of cups of water and dowse them.
Then I take the trey out of the toaster and put it in the sink and oh yeah I am still naked.
I then go and open every window in the house and then back to the shower.
Noah is still in the shower, wondering what was going on.
I told him the whole thing, blow by blow.
I know that he took it all in because he went to school the next day and told all the teachers the story (and he didn't leave the naked part out). Teachers my wife didn't know were coming up to her and telling her that Noah had them all captivated.
So I finished our showers and came out, all dressed this time, and my daughter is sitting there traumatized.
Keep in mind she just saw her dad running threw the house and putting out a fire in the buff.
Her therapist is going to laugh someday at this.
Meanwhile I don't think she is going to eat tacos for a very long time.

The house smelled like, well, burnt taco shells. I lit every candle we had. I then started baking cookies (the cut and bake kind) trying to neutralizing the smell.
So as of last night the smell was still hanging around, but it is getting much better.
So I can tell you I have had some great laughs at my own expense.
I had my staff rolling.
Then last night at my mom's for dinner I almost had to pick her up off the ground.
I hope I put a smile on your face.

Isn't life grand? I swear I don't make this stuff up.
Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Laying off

Hi all,

Monday I went to a spring training baseball game. It was awesome. This particular field is about 45 minutes from my house. Come to find out that there are about 7 spring training facilities within 2 hours from my house.
I started looking for tickets online and all these games were sold out.
My choice was to go to the Yankee vs Phillies game and pay $40 a ticket (from an online ticket company) and drive two hours to get to that park or go to see the Tigers vs Cardinals about 45 minutes away but go without tickets (and try to scalp them when I get there).
I talked to my friend who now has Monday's off and we decided on the ladder.
We went up to Lakeland about an hour early. We drove up and a scalper was in his usual spot...at the corner of the street as we drove in.
He had 4th row seats for $25 each. We were so thrilled we didn't even try to haggle with him. The face value for these tickets were $16.
This field out in the middle of no where was AWESOME. It was like brand new. People were super nice, the field was pristine, the food was not that expensive.
We had a great time
It was a great day.

Topic de jour

I have a friend who had to let go an 11 year employee. This is a really outstanding man and he said it was the hardest thing he has ever had to do.
Like my office, if things are pretty good there usually not many reasons to have to have a "talk" with staff.
Things go along pretty good and your staff is pretty rock solid. So I look at my staff and our youngest employee has been here 8 years.
We as employers are not heartless. We, as employers, know our staff. We genuinely like them. We know their husbands and their kids.

Things are not the rosiest financially but we are managing.
Then we go to our financial advisers office and they tell you that your office is going to lose $100,000 this year. Then he says, "You have to reduce the bottom line."
So you hold on to your staff as long as you can.
Then when it can't get any worse you have to make that decision. I am assuming this is what you have to do. You do the line up in your head.
"Okay she is the best assistant, but her husband has a good job."
or maybe
"She has been with me the longest but..."
It has got to suck.
You sit there with people's lives in your hands. But now it is affecting his family and something had to be done.

Now at my office...
Everyone at the office is suffering because you are overstaffed (we are overstaffed now because remember it was busy one year ago). Everyone knows what is going on. At my office they have vowed to do whatever it takes to keep everyone on.
We have reduced everyone 2 hours.
But when this not be enough...you have to do what you have to do.
You have four people doing what two and a half people can do.

I was listening to the radio the other day and this guy was saying if in this economy if you are laying off good productive people "you suck" at managing.
You shouldn't be laying off people that are making you money.
He said if you haven't trimmed the "fat" at your office already, "you suck as an owner".
(He really said this).
I guess it is that easy if you can tell your underling to fire people. Or you can tell your office manager to let someone go, but when you have to sit in your office and tell someone that you are letting them go. It is tough.
Because you already know that her husband is struggling at work and that the kids need tutoring because they are having a hard time at school. And that their air conditioner is on the fritz.
We are not IBM. We are not Microsoft where we don't know our employees.

I can tell you it has been hard here. Now you know I never worry about money. I never look at our check book at the office (and at home for that matter) but I find myself cringing when I have to sign checks every week.

I know I am rambling but...
I wasn't even going to talk about this today but I haven't been able to shake from my mind what my friend had to do.
He was all torn up over it.

Have a great Wednesday,
I will talk to you on Friday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Constructive Crticism

I am going to put the kid thing on hold because this came up yesterday and I wanted you to see this.

I got an email yesterday.
It was constructive criticism.
Lets get right to it.

Hi John,

My friend, Sally, shared something with me at church tonight that I thought you would want to know. She's been looking for a new dentist for a while and I've highly recommended you several times. I told her how impressed I was with the handwritten note you sent us after my son and I had our first visits to your office and how you said you hoped we saw the light of Christ reflected in the office.
Anyway, I guess she had an emergency this morning and called your office, went in and ended up having a root canal. She said you were great and put her at ease, but she was really shocked at the attitude and language of whoever was assisting. She said the woman kept complaining about the office and was just very negative, but what shocked her was that she kept saying "hell" and I guess just the whole way she was talking. It made Fran very uncomfortable and did not at all reflect the atmosphere of the office that she expected. She just kept telling me she was so shocked by it and I could tell she was really turned off. She's not the kind of person who complains or judges others, so for her to share that with me means it really bothered her.

I really wrestled with whether or not to say anything to you, but I thought you would want to know because I know you do care about your patients and want them to be comfortable, and I know that the impression Fran now has is not the impression you want to convey.


Well what do you think?
I can be totally honest with you and tell you that I wanted cuss someone out when I got this (and use a lot nastier words than "hell").
So many emotions go through your mind. Anger was first but then it becomes doubt.
Maybe I am just not doing this thing right. Maybe when I think people like this office they really don't. Maybe I turn more people off than I think.
Then it is self loathing.
But after I calmed down from my bipolar disorder and started thinking rationally it wasn't that bad.
I appreciated her constructive criticism.

First, I want to tell you how we do it here. You all know I am a jokester. I like to play and having new people here doesn't stop me.
My assistant and I have been working together for 13 years. She jokes too.
We banter back and forth all day long. We genuinely like each other and constantly bounce things off each other.
The topic all depends on the day. I might just ask her, "Why do woman always do X?"
Then it is on. She will say it is because men do Y. Then it is back and forth.
We get the patient involved in the conversation. You can see there eyes go back and forth as we are arguing/playing/discussing.
There is absolutely nothing sacred. We talk about office politics, religion, women stuff, men stuff, we talk about other patients (without names), current events, bratty kids, our kids, tuition, college... ANYTHING.
Is there cussing involved? Well....yes. Sometimes. Not all the time but yes there is.
Is this stepping over the line? Probably.
I am not going to beat myself up about this (and I don't want you to either), I mean my wife sometimes gets on me (she really is looking out for the office's best interest) about this.
Also she talks about a Christian looking different than the any other regular person.

We do it to have fun, learn more about everything, and make the patient comfortable. We do it to look real to the patient.
I am a person, a husband, a dad AND and dentist.

So, I showed my assistant the letter.
We had a nice talk. We will try to be better about not scaring people on their first visit. Make them feel comfortable but not to over do it.
And about the "hell" thing. My assistant loves her job. I mean to tell you she tells me all the time.
Now she has freedom to talk to me about what she doesn't like the office that day.
That day it might of been hot as "hell" in the office. Or she might of asked me, "what the hell is Susan doing at the front desk." It is all in her wheelhouse.

Now, we have had so much positive feedback that we know that we have to do it. It is part of the job. "The show".
The feedback is mostly, "You guys are so funny." or "You guys are just plain crazy, you made me forget I was at the dentist." or "I love coming here to hear what you guys are talking about."
Sometimes patients can't talk back (because there is work going on in their mouths) so at the end of the appointment they says, "Okay this is what I think...."
So it is effective.

I thought about what she said in the letter.
I remember Sally and that she was scared and that another dentist just pulled her teeth.
I remember telling her we are going to try to save this tooth and I remember putting her mind at ease about the procedure.
I remember talking to her about money and how we were going to try to make this part as painless as well, by working with her and not charging her for the xray and the Limited oral exam.
I remember giving her injection that didn't hurt at all. I remember removing all her decay getting into the nerve and then doing a pulpectomy. I remember her not feeling a thing.
Do I remember saying or hearing the word "hell" ....No.
Maybe she forgot all the above things and remembered only the last line. I remembered the top part of this and forgot the last line...it is all about perspective isn't it?

I wrote her back.

I am so glad you wrote to me. I know that it must have been very hard. To put you mind at ease, I can handle constructive criticism.
Now about Sally....
Most of the time this is not people's favorite place. It has been our experience that coming to an office for the first time is even worse for people.
And this is kind of making an excuse but...we kind of try to talk in a way that would make people feel more at ease.
We have always tried to erase people"s fears of this over bearing, strong armed dentistry they may be keeping them from the dentist. In our effort, admittingly sometimes we may go overboard (if you hang around here longer you may hear a lot more than the word "hell").
As you know that my primary objective is to honor our King and sometimes (okay most of the time) I fall short. I will indeed work on making people comfortable and doing it in a way that is okay for everyone.
I appreciate you "iron is sharpening iron". And lastly I am sorry that your friend did not have a great experience here. I know you put your name on the line for me and I kind of "blew it."

Thanks for writing,

This patient and her son have cleaning appointments coming up this month.
Paybacks are hell. I mean heck.

I have so much more to say, but it is Friday.
Have a great weekend

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A purpose driven kid

Yo, what up?

I have to tell you that being with my kids is like a constant comedy show.
Yesterday was a classic.
My son and daughter are in this thing at school to raise money. Yeah a school that cost $9000 a year per kid has about 4 money drives during the year....but I digress.
The organization that was brought in to help raise the money gives the kids prizes for reaching certain plateaus.
So the prize my daughter got was a wrist band with a watch in it.
So she is in the front seat and my 5 year old Noah is in the back seat.
So Madison says, "I wonder what this thing is", looking at her wrist band.
I said, "It is to wipe your brow."
So she says, "What is a brow?"
So Noah from the back seat says, "It is what girls wear to hold up their boobies."

I am not making this stuff up. I have been laughing on and off all day thinking of this.

Its these kids I want to talk about today.
This blog started on my way to Chicago on Feb 19. I was flying out of Orlando.
You know that where ever you from Orlando there is going to be kids. Either they are coming to Disney World or leaving Disney World.
I always travel with movies. I always travel with something to do. I can't sleep for the life of me.
Anyway we were blessed to sit directly in front of the Tasmanian Devil. She was about 4 years old and she was making everyone in a five row vicinity miserable.
The plane was situated that there was three seats on one side of the row and two seat on the other. The family of four sat on both sides of the aisle. Mom and Dad, the Tasmanian Devil and her little sister. The father and TD sat behind me.
She screamed and kicked and screamed some more.
Most of the trip I am occupied by my movie and these headphones that are so awesome that you can't hear much but the movie.
But when you are being rocked by the kicking it is hard to ignore and when you can hear the father tell the 4 year old to "Shut up!!!"
Then he is yelling at her through his teeth, "please shut up!"
This poor couple were so inept. I mean it is bad parenting 101.

The parents bent to her every whim.
When she yelled (and I mean yelled), "I want MOMMY!"
Every got up and changed seating arrangements.
Now you may be thinking that I was upset with the kid. But really I was more upset with the parents. I felt sorry for them in a way.
It is the parents responsibility to teach this young person how to act. It is their responsibility to teach this kid that she will NOT get EVERYTHING she wants.
And when the answer is "No" then she has to be okay with this.
So because the parents, who were I am sure were tired from giving this kid everything she wanted at Disney World for 5 straight days, didn't have any more to give.
By the end of the flight the dad was so annoyed (and with his own ineptitude with his daughter it was hard to watch.

But a couple weeks ago I was driving my 9 year old home from baseball practice and we were listening to the news on the radio.
And it was one of those news days. There was a governmental take over in Lithuania, there was a murder, and a kidnapping and couple of other really bad things.
I said, "Luke this world is going to pot, I am telling you." Sounding more and more like my dad every day.
So later on that night I thought of a teaching moment. I brought the news up to him.
I started with, "Hey Luke the news today was pretty bad.
"There is so much crap going on in the world. What do you think our role is? Yeah, me John and you Luke Gammichia, what is our role?"
"How can we make a difference?"
Now I have debated this for the last couple of weeks. Is this conversation too much for a nine year old to handle? I don't know...but it is now too late.
I want to start the broadening of the mind thing. I want him to see a world that is more than just Luke.
Of course his answer was, "Idunno."
This maybe a little early but I started in on him, "What are you going to do with your life?"
But my angle was different than the movies when they say, "What are you going to do with your life, you degenerate?!"
No, this was more kingdom focused. Kind of like...What are you going to do to make this world better?
"What do you mean, Dad?"
"Well, I want you to start thinking about how you are going to impact this world."
I said, "I am a dentist. You wouldn't think that a guy that fills cavities can impact the world. But I think in my job I think I have a skill that people need.
I have the ability to help people. It might be one person a week. It might be on a mission trip. It might be after you kids are off at college opening up a free clinic. I don't quite know how I am going to impact the world quite yet. It is something I am still trying to figure out."

Is everyone called to change the world? I think yes, but not everyone is equipped the same way.
Some people make the money to fund the ones equipped to serve.
(So I am talking half the time to him and going over these things in my head the other time).
Then I say, "You can be a lawyer. You can be a doctor. You can be a vet. You can be an electrician. But remember whatever you are going to do, it has to be for the greater good.
It is not about Luke Gammichia. It is about Luke Gammichia and how he is going to impact the world.

Now you have to remember I am totally making this stuff up as I am going along with him.
I never had this conversation with my parents.
We never talked about anything but grades and moving on. There was no purpose talk.
Like questions about motive.
I did have a chance to sit around a circle with some buddies this weekend and drink some beer and smokes cigars and we had a great talk about purpose. Our own purpose and our kids purpose.
There were about 7 dads there and the ages of kids ranged from 2-20.
So it was great.
Let's talk about this talk about this on Friday.

What do you think?
Have you had this talk with your kids?
I would like to know,

Monday, March 9, 2009


Hi all,

Well, I did it. I never thought this was going to happen to me. My mom is in her sixties and we make fun of her memory all the time. We laugh at the fact that she can see a movie in the theater and by the time it comes out on video she can see it again because she has no recollection of it.
Well this weekend I got a movie from Netflix called Next. It came in the mail and my wife said, "You have seen this movie already."
And I said, "No, I haven't."
"Yes, you have."
Well we started watching it and it took awhile (about 40 minutes into the movie) but I realized I have seen this movie.
Man, I hate it when my wife is right, even though I should no better.
And this is happening so close to my 40th birthday.

Speaking of my birthday, my wife threw me a surprise birthday party on Friday night.
I don't know if this is related to the above story but usually I am much more intuitive when it comes to this. I have to admit that I was looking for clues in the month before my birthday but there was none.
What I think threw me off the scent was that my wife and I were planning a joint 40th birthday party. See her 40th is in May. So we planned to have a get together sometime in April.
Well for this (pretend) party I made a list of all the people I would invite and I even picked out the stock of paper for the invitations. We had discussed what food I would like at OUR party.
Well she took my list and invited the people on my list with the invitations on the paper I chose and planned a party with the kind of food I liked.
I even picked the DJ.
My Friday's are usually very busy. After work, that ends at 3pm, will usually try to catch up on paper work. I usually am a couple days behind on writing up charts and I am scrabbling around trying to get the blog finished. Then I go straight to 4:30 basketball practice. Then after practice it is straight to a 5:30 (Noah's) soccer game. Then home. But this Friday was a little different.
It was very slow at work. I caught up on my paper work and finished the blog all during work hours.
So I called Hilda on my way home and told her I was coming home before basketball practice. Well unbeknownst to me this would have been disastrous. The house was all decorated and there were tables and chairs outside. Our living room was all moved around and the caterer was setting up.
So my wife asked me to stop at Home Depot to get a light bulb for her.
I am getting a little annoyed because she keeps calling me. I stop at Home Depot and I am in and out. So she calls me again and says, "Are you going to Home Depot for me?"
I said, "Yes and I am driving out of the parking lot as we speak and I will be home in 10 minutes."
So she is thinking, "Oh sh@!$#%*&t . "
So she says, "Do you know how to jump start a car? Because Marie just called me and her car won't start."
"Yes, you guys can do it. Red to red and black to black."
"Well, do you think you can come and help us?"
"WHAT?!!! Fricking fine I will meet you at Marie's house. But I want you to know that this means I probably wont be able to come home before practice."
All is well.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you something. We had dinner plans with our friends (one of the couples that were coming to this party). I asked my wife if we have locked down plans with them I said, "I will call them."
I called my friends and I asked them where they wanted to go.
We we talked for a couple of minutes and locked down FAKE restaurant plans.
So when I got to the soccer game my wife wasn't around. Noah was playing in the game and Madison is playing with her friends but there is no sign of Hilda anywhere.
I am thinking she is in the bathroom or something. But after about ten minutes I start to wonder. So I called her.
And she says, "Oh, I came home to get ready for our date."
So I gave her the business, "Honey, it is 2 and a half hours before we are suppose to meet them. What the hell are you doing? You left our daughter unattended and our kid playing in a soccer game. And no one around her knows that you left. Have you completely lost your mind?"
So I just shook my head and hung up the phone.
After the game I packed everyone in the car. Now imagine how hard it was for my kids, who are 9,8 and 5 years old who knew about the party, not to blab it out.
Well when I rolled up in the driveway. Everyone was standing there yelling "SURPRISE".
Your first reaction is like, "What the hell?" Because I had no idea.
There was a DJ in my driveway and a whole bunch of people in my back yard.
"Oh wait, Oh my gosh, no way. Awesome, all this for me? Totally awesome."
You all know how much I hate attention.
Anyways, It was a great party. Much food and fun and laughs had by all.
Turns out the theme was Cigars. So everyone was instructed to bring a cigar for the birthday boy.
My dad got me a cigar made by Fidel Castro's personal cigar maker and a humidor from the same dude.
I am not really a cigar connoisseur but I like an occasional cigar with my buddies once a month or so.
It was totally great.

But that was not all. I woke up on Saturday and I was volunteering at a clinic called "Special Day for Special Kids". If you are a regular reader you will remember this is a educational clinic for families with kids with Down's Syndrome.
My son and I had our last basketball game before the playoffs at noon. So I high tail it to the game which we won.
We finished the season 4-3. (Good news and bad news. We finished in a three way tie for third place. The top four teams go to the playoffs. Bad news is that we lost to the other two third place teams. So we are out of the playoffs.
Man was I disappointed.)
Then Luke and I jumped into the car to catch a 2pm Gator basketball game in Gainesville.
Then finally back home at 7pm.
You know when they say Sunday is suppose to be a day of rest. Well it was for this hombre.
Came home from church and plopped down on the couch. Watched the Magic beat the Celtics and then watched Duke lose. I doesn't get any better than this weekend.

Talk to you guys on Wednesday.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Hi all,

First of all Paraject.
I wrote to REALITY and asked what the expert knows about the Paraject system and if they heard of anything wrong with it.
I got about 5 responses from people that DIDN'T know what it is.
But I did finally get an answer from someone that knew what it was and here is her answer...

From Editorial Team member Dr. Lori Trost:

This is ALL about technique and anatomy. I use 1/2 carp of Septo on my blocks on at least 80% of my patients with NO ill effect. Having said that...watch "something" happen. But the bottom line is: less is better, aspirate, and know your anatomy. I also use paraject on occasion on vital teeth and have had good experience.

So I kind of challenged her with the blocking with Septocaine and wrote her back saying, "If all the other people on the "Editorial team" say not to do it...how do you feel about being on this proverbial island?"
I haven't received a response yet.
So I don't know what to think.
So far I have received two comments that say not to use the interligamental injections.
I don't know, it is really working for me and I am really loving it.

I am going to say one negative thing about REALITY (because you know how much I like it). Last year they didn't have a publication. They only have the website.
I went to "The Ratings" section to see what they think the best cordless headlight is.
I know there are a ton of these on the market. But in this section they had only rated ONE.
What the heck is going on? One!!?
How can I make an informed decision about any product with just one review to read?
So I write them and ask them what the heck is going on. And they reply, "we have two more coming down the pike."
Seems kind of weak to me. I know they have to be careful because they can ruin someone with one article, but...

Okay lets talk about Wednesday's ghost writers article.
His first soapbox is..
When we talk of Dentistry, what comes to mind?....Have you heard that a “Root Canal” is the worse that can happen to you? Do you remember “Marathon Man” or “Little Shop of Horrors”? You all know what I am talking about. What has happened is that over the years, “Dentistry, the Health Profession” has gotten lost in translation.

I think about this often. How can we make our profession more respected?
How can we get a better rap.
I don't know.
Here are the cold hard facts.
We treat hundreds of people a week and they all have great experiences (okay most of them). They all love us.
But here comes that guy walking through your door. You know the person, the one that hasn't been to the dentist in 12 years and they are hurting. Their face is swollen.
"My tooth is freaking killing me can you help me? And by the way, I hate the dentist. Oh and I don't have any money."
"Yes, we will help you. Come on in and have a seat."
"Did I tell you how much I hate going to the dentist? It is not you, I don't hate you, I just hate going to the dentist."
"No offense taken, but why don't you come in here and let me take a look?"
"Dude, I am in so much pain I can't even open my mouth that much."
"Well lets try to get an xray."
I know you have seen this guy. How do you think the rest of this appointment is going to go?
This patient is jumpy. This patient is irritable because he hasn't slept for days.
The shot hurts because, of course, nothing is going to go right with this patient.
You open the tooth and lets just say it is real sensitive to the touch. You are doing your best to be gentle but it is what it is.

You guys finish up doing a pulpectomy trying your darndest to save this mans tooth. You are trying to impress him and change his mind about dentists.
But basically the appointment goes about the way HE expected.
He gives you a rubber check and leaves. You are exhausted and he is pissed.

Now Jack (we will call him Jack) the hurt patient goes home is miserable.
He is now on the phone telling his boss that he can't come in to work tomorrow because of this quack dentist hurt him and his tooth is killing him.
Now the boss tell all his coworkers that Jack is not coming in today because he went to this quack dentist and had a root canal. All the workers say a collective, "Ahhh. Dude that sucks."
Remember the hundreds of patients that you saw this week. Yeah, not one of those patients who love you have told anyone about you or the awesome work you did.
I mean I did 5 root canals this week. How many of them do you think went home and told everyone about the great root canal they had done. NO ONE.

So that was a long way to say we are fighting a long hard uphill battle to change the way people think about us.
You do the best you can. You just try to touch as many people as you can in a positive way. Being as gentle as you can. What else can we do?
It is so telling when someone finishes a root canal in my chair and says, "That wasn't bad at all."
They were expenting what the media portrays and what Jack told her.
Or if this doesn't work we can always go to dancing toothbrushes and flying floss.

The ghostwriter talks about how pitiful it is when the government tries to get involved.
The mom who gives her kids candy at the checkout line to keep them quiet does not get blamed when the child misses school with a tooth ache, you do. The ABC special on Appalachia featured a dentist who was providing free care for the kids in an area. He was blaming the high use of soft drinks the kids love as a big part of the problem. Oral Health literacy is everyone’s business, the government, the educational system, the health department, along with dentistry.
You can't blame the soft drink company for tooth decay. You can't blame the cigarette company for lung disease. Or McDonald's for obesity. Personal responsibility people.
Now if this sounds too Republican I am sorry but...
People know soft drinks are bad for their teeth as much as they know cigarettes are bad for their lungs.
Although I think more hitting people over the head with this is never a bad thing. Keep reminding them.
How about we save money by telling people that if they smoke the government will not pay for healthcare for anything related to lung disease.
I bet you can save a pretty penny.

Then the ghostwriter starts talking about Dental Care Providers. Well I don't have enough time to discuss all the poop that goes along with this topic. Maybe later.

Thats it for the week.
Have a great weekend.
I am going to watch the University of Florida play the Kentucky Wildcats in basketball.
Our basketball team has been tough to watch this year. We have been so close but really we just stink. We have dropped so far from glory. "Just wait until next year."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wow, a new look AND a ghost writer

I have finally figured out how to mess with this blog thing.
In the past I have just did the writing but I have always thought the "home page" was a little boring.
I know what you are thinking.
1) Nice picture, but I can't read the words overlayed on it.
2) Nice picture, but what does that have to do with teeth.
3) Wow that is a nice picture, I wonder where he got that?
I took this picture myself in the keys.
4)Where is the AGD logo?

These are all the things we are discussing in The Daily Grind board room.
But first and foremost, I want to know what you think about it.
Do you want a dental picture or do you want like a nature photo or something?
Do you like the new template?

Also I almost forgot. I was talking to someone about Search Engine Optimization. They said that if you find the blog from Google it will move up.
So if you have to put in agdblogs.blogspot.com every time to find the blog, do me a favor and put in the Daily Grind dental blog (or something like this) and google search it. Then go to the blog. And do it that way all the time.
And this is how we will rule the world. This is my diabolical plan.
No seriously do this.

Now that that is out of the way...
Today we have a ghost writer. By the way if you have a soap box you want to get on, you can always write a blog. Email me anytime Jgammichia@aol.com we can talk about it and you too can write a blog.
Anyway this person was asked to write an article about the present view of dentistry. The author wrote it and then thought better of sending it in. But this forum can be more anonymous.
We can read what the author wrote and then talk about it.
Well read it and I will give you my opinion.

When we talk of Dentistry, what comes to mind? For those of us who know and love the profession, we speak of helping people and changing their lives and making them healthier. We speak of being part of the community and of giving back. All of this is part of the discussion. Have you ever listened to what others say about dentistry? Many get it and understand what an important part of their lives dentistry plays. However, there are those who have over the years continued to speak of dentistry as a joke or punch line, something to be avoided and ridiculed.

I remember when Dr. James Edwards, an Oral Surgeon from South Carolina, became the Secretary of Energy in the Reagan administration. Johnny Carson said that Dr. Edwards would be checking out oil wells by looking down into them with his little mirror. Not a horrible comment but it disrespects Dr. Edwards and the profession. Have you heard that a “Root Canal” is the worse that can happen to you? Do you remember “Marathon Man” or “Little Shop of Horrors”? You all know what I am talking about. What has happened is that over the years, “Dentistry, the Health Profession” has gotten lost in translation.

When we talk of Dentistry today we need to talk about “Dentistry, the Oral Health Authority”. We were hiring a Public Relations Firm for the national Academy of General Dentistry and this well known and respected firm immediately started talking of a dancing toothbrush and flying floss. Is that the best image that our years of care and service in oral health can portray to a group who should be able to see the big picture?
Dentists treat people. We eliminate pain and infection. We improve overall health and are on the front line for diagnosing some systemic diseases early. We are THE Health System that looks at prevention as the model and has been for a long time. We want to get you healthy and show you how to and help you to stay that way.

Now in Congress, the House and Senate are looking at Health Care reform. I would think they would come to us in Dentistry and ask us how to make it work. Instead, the perceived value for dentistry is so low that instead of helping those who don’t utilize the services available to get the best comprehensive care and get healthy, the government and policy makers want to blame dentistry. The mom who gives her kids candy at the checkout line to keep them quiet does not get blamed when the child misses school with a tooth ache, you do. The ABC special on Appalachia featured a dentist who was providing free care for the kids in an area. He was blaming the high use of soft drinks the kids love as a big part of the problem. Oral Health literacy is everyone’s business, the government, the educational system, the health department, along with dentistry.

Lack of transportation is another factor. Is that a dental issue or a social services issue? Other factors like cultural differences and belief systems can cause individuals to not use the services available. There are economic issues but in a number of studies recently, this was not the big factor. Again, government and social services can address this. How many millions of dollars have been spent on notifying the public of the television switch to digital? These are government ads on behalf of an industry. How many ads have you seen on Oral Health literacy, decay prevention, and having a dental home? It is not only the Millions on advertising, but the government will give you a coupon for the converter box if you can’t afford it. Where are the dental care coupons?

President Obama signed into law a massive expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) on February 4, 2009. Containing eight specific dental provisions, the legislation makes several significant changes relative to general dentistry.

One is:

To require the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, to study:
The extent to which dental providers are willing to treat Medicaid- and SCHIP-eligible children and
“[T]he feasibility and appropriateness of using qualified midlevel dental health providers, in coordination with dentists, to improve access for children to oral health services and public health overall.”

Please note the term “dental providers”. Am I no longer a dentist or are there are they looking for someone other than a dentist treat Oral Disease? Dentistry is willing to treat everyone and welcomes to chance to help. You can not expect anyone to lose money as a business model and as great as charity is, it is not a health care system. Remember a billion plus dollars so no one will miss a TV show, congress voted themselves a raise in the middle of a recession, and now we are looking at bail out funds going to the UN. The problem is that Dental care is not seen as valuable. It is to be discounted at every turn. The sad part is that the Return on Investment ends up saving money for the government if they would help us make this a priority.

Qualified Midlevel Providers is seen as a low cost quick fix. With respect to the Tom Dachle issue, President Obama said : "We can't send a message to the American people that we have two sets of rules- one for prominent people and one for ordinary people.”
I wonder if President Obama wants two sets of rules for the American people when it comes to health care. Two tiers of care is not correct care.

You to me this is not that offensive. You all know me and I usually don't hold back any punches. He touch on a bunch of different different topics. But because this is getting long, lets talk about them on Friday.

Have a great Wednesday,



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The statements expressed on this blog to include the bloggers postings do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), nor do they imply endorsement by the AGD.