Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Christmas is Really About

I grew up Catholic. I went to Catholic elementary school and Catholic high school. I was an ideal kid. I was an altar boy and youth leader and all that (I am sure my mom wanted me to be a priest). And after all that, I never really knew what the Old Testament was all about. Over the last 11 years or so, I have learned more and more about what the Bible is about, so today's blog is going to be my version of the Bible for dummies (by a dummy).

God created everything and it was good. Then He created man and woman and everyone lived very happily together. But for some reason (we will have to ask Him when we get to heaven), He allowed man to have free will. And man, being dumb, wanted more than happy and screwed it up. So here we are on earth and then this is where the story begins. We all want to get back to Heaven and God wants us there.

The Old Testament is way too long to summarize in a blog post, but here are some highlights for Christmas. There seemed to be so many trials and errors. God came to Abraham and made a covenant with the Hebrews. "I will be your God and you will be my people." Back then, when people made an agreement (a covenant) with someone, it was more serious than it is today; there had to be a blood sacrifice. They would take a spotless lamb, kill it, cut the animal in half, put the animal to two sides and both people would walk through. (Don't ask me why, but this is how they showed that both sides made a vow that could not be broken.) When God made the covenant with the Hebrews, He knew they couldn't keep their end of the bargain; He was the only one that walked through (He would hold up both ends of the bargain).

The Old Testament talks a lot about the blood sacrifice. If you sinned, if you owed money, if you wanted to make an offering, they would talk about taking a young or spotless animal and sacrificing it to God or the one you were indebted to. This was how you were to receive forgiveness, but the sacrifices were not enough to cover our sin. Then during the Passover, remember the "blood of the lamb" on the door frame.

After the covenant with Abraham, a bunch of stuff happened and then the Hebrews ended up becoming slaves to the Egyptians. This is where God sent Moses to set His people free. The Pharaoh did not want to let them go, so God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that if he didn't let the Hebrews go free, He would send a series of plagues. The final plague was the angel of death, sent to kill the first born of every family. This is where the blood of the lamb came back in. The angel of death would pass over a house if it had the blood of a spotless lamb painted on the door frame. The blood was spilled to literally save the people from death. All of this prefigured the sacrifice that Jesus would make. (This whole story points to Christmas. Do you see it? Jesus was the spotless lamb. It is His blood that we cover ourselves in so the angel of death doesn't take us).

Then came the Ten Commandments. God gave His people a set of laws to live by. This is how they would be set apart and how they would hold up their end of the covenant but they (we) couldn't do it. They couldn't be perfect. We couldn’t be perfect. We needed someone to be our blood sacrifice and to save us from ourselves (again pointing to Jesus. He was going to come as a man, obey the law perfectly, and be the spotless lamb). Christmas is so glorious because He did come down from Heaven to be like us, to feel what we feel (loneliness, disappointment, love, friendship).

The beautiful part is that Jesus is the Son of God. Think of a king coming to meet his people. How would it happen today if the king of a country went into town? Wouldn't he have a great procession with lots of people greeting him and waiting on his every need? Even though Jesus is King of Heaven and Earth, He came down as an innocent baby. Not as a king, but an infant in a manger because there was no room for Him in the inn. He did this to teach us humility.

But back to sacrifice. Jesus willingly went to the cross and died. But then He rose from the dead, opening the gates of heaven. He tore the veil and now He sits on the throne that was promised to David (wait, that is the Easter blog).

And let’s not forget all the Old Testament prophesies that Jesus fulfilled, written 700 years before He was born. In Isaiah: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

And also: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever

So this Christmas, when you are putting up your lights (you should have done this by now) or when you are out buying presents, cooking, watching football, or just hanging with family, think of the baby boy and what He means to us. We are His and it is very good.

I so enjoy working with you guys. Have a great Christmas and I will see you next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Holistic Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Oh my gosh. It is Friday and the second to last blog of the year for me. Our Christmas party is tonight. Have you been shopping? Are you stressed?

I want to give you an update on the lecture stuff. I finished the DVD speaker packet and have mailed out about 25 of them so far. I look up meetings online, find the contact person, write them a personal note and slip it in an envelope. It is a lot of work. All this while trying to maintain relationships with potential sponsors.

Anyway, I got a call yesterday from the Washington AGD. They want me to come and speak to their people. She asked if I was available January 24, 2013. This is my second lecture gig. I am so pumped. In the DVD, I say I am developing a hands-on course. This woman said that she wanted the “whole day experience.”

I am what you call a general dentist. I am a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. And occasionally I come into contact with general dentists who begin to specialize as a general dentist. One thing I have never understood is this specialty of holistic dentistry. Now, before I go on, I am admitting I don't know much about it.

We have a couple holistic dentists in Orlando. I am a little jaded when it comes to them. Again, I only know what I know and I know that I have had patients that come to me telling me they had all their amalgams taken out by Dr. X because he said there were toxins in the fillings. I have seen someone drive three hours to see a dentist in Boca because he was a naturalist. This dentist pulls all teeth that have root canals in them and does all porcelain bridges.

That patient came to me because the naturalist lost his license. I recently replaced all of his all-porcelain bridges that had decay everywhere (because the naturalist also told them that fluoride is bad).

Anyway, this has recently hit home. I have a patient that I truly love. Her family is great. They came to me when they lived here and still come to me after they have moved away. A couple years ago, she got really sick. This 45-year-old vibrant woman couldn't get out of bed. They have been going to doctor after doctor, hospital after hospital for more than two years. This treatment and that treatment. From steroids to acupuncture. It gets manageable but then it gets worse again, and her kids have to tie her shoes for her.

The family was in getting their teeth cleaned and she handed me the results of the $500 blood test they did on dental products. They tested her for allergies to dental materials. I have seen allergy tests to 10 things, or maybe all the dots on the back when they might be testing for 25-40 things. Well, in her test, they tested for almost 22,000 dental materials. No, that is not a misprint. This binder has every dental product known to man and it indicates if she is allergic to it (somehow they tested her for 40 different types of gutta percha).

She went on to say that she has seen a holistic dentist in her town and he has recommended they she get her FRONT tooth pulled out (#9) because it has a root canal in it. Not because it is a bad root canal (my specialist did it) or because she might be allergic to the materials in the crown (which I did, that is a perfect match to the tooth next to it). I don't know if this is because of residual infection after all root canals. I don't know if it because of the gutta percha. Nonetheless, this dentist recommended it and she asked what I thought she should do.

Now, they have admitted they are desperate. You and I both know that there are just some ailments that our modern medicine doesn’t know how to fix. People get sick and they can't figure it out. You and I can know this but we are not the ones that are sick. If you are sick, you think that if you take the right medicine, if you see the right doctor, you are going to get better. You have heard of people that have cancer or some fatal disease and they go to China because they heard of something new going on over there. I knew someone that had cancer who bought an hyperbaric chamber to do their own treatments. My patient has spent so much money, has been to all these doctors, and has gotten no relief. That would make me desperate too.

What would you tell her? “I feel your pain. I know that you are looking for that silver bullet. But out of 200 dentists, 199 of them are going to tell you that this holistic dentist is totally off his rocker. And the one that agrees is the holistic dentist himself. I am going to back you 100%. I don't agree with this dentist. But I can see you in pain and I want you out of it. If you have the money and there is .1% chance of the stars aligning and this actually making you feel better, then go for it. I don't think it will work, but I love you and I will be here to restore your implant if you so choose. I am not going to love you less."

This dentist actually told her that 50% of his patients get 100% relief within 24 hours. You know there are probably some "research" articles that he could find to back him up. I was asked about amalgam the other day and I told them that I believe it is safe. I mean, if anyone should have ill effects of amalgam it is me. I take in amalgam dust all the time.(And the only problem I have had is this little twitch.) I told them that there is research out there but really you can find research on just about anything. If you want to believe something, you can find a "scientist" that agrees with you.

It sucks that she is hurting. It sucks that there is no cure for what she has. And it sucks that she is so desperate that she feels like taking her tooth out will help. Any thoughts?

Hope you are having a good week.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Blues

Good Wednesday to you all,

I am only working until Wednesday of next week. I think we are expecting a blog from Dr. Joyce on Monday, then me again on Wednesday of next week, and then that is it for the year. We have had some good times this year. It is totally crazy how fast things go.

I am reading a book called “Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock” by Sammy Hagar. I loved Van Halen and I have always like Sammy Hagar, but I have to tell you that I am not that impressed. I wanted him to be different. He always seemed different to me. But he isn't.

I mean he is not strung out or broke, but he leads the same kind of lifestyle. I am at the end of the book and it seems that he is just trying to say that he is better off than the Van Halens, which is not hard because they are both raging alcoholics (a VH1 Rockumentary waiting to happen). I hate it when people are empty. You work so hard to be great, but then you are on the mountain top and look at your life. You see a couple of divorces. You see a bunch of kids that you haven't been around for 15 years. But hey, you got tons of money.

I am sorry to tell you that I watched the movies “Arthur” and “Hall Pass.” “Arthur” was nothing like the old one that was awesome; this one was okay. “Hall Pass” was just okay too. But I will tell you there are some funny parts in this movie. I fell off the couch laughing and am in the office still chuckling about the movie.

Okay, I can't go through the end of the year and not talk about Christmas and parties. I am a big Christmas party guy and I love having Christmas parties. I truly like my staff and I like hanging out with them. Having a party is a nice way to say, "Thanks for all that you do. I am honored to work with you and you all make me a better dentist and a better person.” To do this, I can't just have lunch; I try to make this party a to-do.

But making a big to-do costs money. And, no, spending money on dinner is not that big of a deal. It is the other stuff that is stressful. Living in Orlando is great, but land mass it is HUGE. Literally, we have staff members that live 30 miles from each other. Finding a place that can handle a party of 13 and is in a location convenient for everyone is tough. We did find a place, but it is not centrally located. I guess you can't have everything.

I am starting to put the finishing touches on the party and hearing about other dentists’ parties. Have you ever heard of Party Envy? My assistant has a daughter that is also a dental assistant and she works for a 4 dentist/17 employee practice in another state. Their staff was picked up, with their husbands, by a bus at 4pm. And not a school bus - a big luxury bus. They all were taken out to dinner, got back on the bus, and went to a piano bar. Then they gave all the staff gift cards. I was thinking about it and adding it up. Carry the one… we are talking about a $6000 night. Wow!

Which brings me to the money part. We usually take two weeks off and this is looming pretty large with me. That means we are not going to be working and I have to pay everyone for two weeks (if they have saved up vacation time). It is a perfect storm. I am struggling with money right now. It is going to be really close. We just had a new roof put on the office (we had to because water was coming in the office from all the leaks) and that was a chunk of change that we took out of the reserve tank. But I don't have much in the reserve tank and the pending vacation is looming and then I am going to go and spend money at the party. It is kind of hard to get festive.

In the past, it was so easy. We were spending our excess at the Christmas parties. But times have changed. Don't get me wrong. We are doing okay and things will be okay, but it is a grind. Week to week, nowadays. (I know all of you who read the "Pain in the Neck" blog think I am struggling because I am a terrible, don't care of my patients, kind of dentist.)

December is usually a tough month anyway. You know the "try to get patients to use up all their insurance" never works. They are all spending everything they have on Christmas and vacations; the last thing they want to do is go to the dentist for major work. Again, it is the perfect storm.

Listen, I love being a dentist and I love Christmas and I love my Christmas party and I love my staff. But it is hard, you know? I am just sitting back here in my office worried, that’s all. I guess it wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't worry about money or stuff. (I bet the guy that ordered the bus and dinner and piano bar is not stressed.)

I hope I am not the only one worrying. Are you stressed? I am sure Jesus didn't come to earth and do all He did to make us worry. See there we go screwing His plan up again.

Hope you are having a great week.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011



I don't know about the rest of you, but I am ready for some time off. The year is coming to a close, and I am sure we have all worked our tails off and deserve a little relaxation. I have been talking to some friends of mine (who are also dentists) and they tell me that I need to get a massage. After all, we work all day bent over and twisted. That can’t be good for your health or your body if you want to last until retirement age. Now, I am not much for massages, but all of this kind of made sense. I mean, I want to be able to work until I am at least 60 and be there for my family. The least I can do is take an hour out of my day to make sure my body can keep up with my busy work schedule.

I decided to schedule the massage. I walked into a room with a very relaxing atmosphere. The lights were low, there was a scent of eucalyptus in the air, and the quiet guitar music completed the ambiance. Wow, this is really going to be good for me (and my family of course).

In walks Helga (that’s what I’m going to call her). She politely asks me to take off my clothes and lie down under the sheet. Okay, a little awkward, but I’m committed all the way. My first question: Is your back supposed to crack and snap when they push on it? Every liter of oxygen was completely expelled from my lungs. If I had wanted to scream, I wouldn’t have been able to.

I didn’t think it was physically possible, but I was convinced that my muscles and skin were being separated from my skeleton. I thought maybe I should try to scratch my initials in the table with my fingernail in case they find my unidentifiable body later. Since I had to disrobe, I didn’t have access to my cell phone to call 911.

All sorts of thoughts were running through my head. Will I see my family again? Will I be able to do dentistry again? She told me to drink plenty of water. Really? How is that going to help the pineapple sized bruise on my backside? Do they send a wheelchair in to transport me to my vehicle? Does she prescribe pain meds? Everyone keeps telling me how great they feel after a massage. Evidently, they haven't had Helga.

For those of you that have never had a massage, if you are the least bit weight-conscious, don’t do it. I have never felt so fat in my life. As a matter of fact, I didn’t realize how fat I was until I had a massage. She was squeezing fat in places I didn’t think fat could exist. I vowed that if I made it out alive, I was going to go on a strict diet of fish and vegetables. Also, I would begin an exercise regimen to include approximately two hundred sit-ups a day with some sort of side twists (and maybe running). At this point, I am going to explore some other health options. Any suggestions?

Have a great week


Friday, December 9, 2011

Just Crown It

Happy Friday!

Christmas is coming fast. My last day at work is the 22nd. That means after today I have 7 working days until my nearly two week vacation. Sounds great, but that means the office is down and that somehow I have to have enough money in the bank to pay everyone and myself for two weeks.

So now my vacation is going to be stressful and I will start acting like an idiot to everyone. "No! We can't go to Steak-n-Shake to celebrate your straight A’s! What do you think? Sad is made out of money or something?!" Or "No, honey I don't want anything for Christmas." See what I mean? That is a bold-faced lie.

Why is this season so stressful? It is not supposed to be like that. I guess if we just had an infinite amount of money things would be different. WRONG!! I think we do it to ourselves. The gift thing can get stressful, but why we wait for the last minute always perplexes me.

And the Christmas party? Don't even get me started. I mean it is a gift. You go to dinner and then you get a present or money or something. It is a chance to have fun on someone else’s dime. What could be so wrong with that? We haven't even had our party yet but I have already started hearing rumblings. And I am not one the kind of guy that just takes my staff out to dinner. We try to do it up nice. You know, a party to celebrate working together another year. It is a chance for my dad and I to sit and see our people happy (sometimes with the help of booze) and say, "This is good."

I would like to hear your Christmas stress. Tell me I am not alone in this.

Real quick, I read an article this week in the AGD's General Dentistry journal. It is called "The role of volume of multi-surface restorations in posterior teeth: Treatment options.” It was funny that the author put up a survey on DentalTown and got 300 respondents. I guess this is a perfect way to get a wide range of dentists: 13 different countries, male and female, young and old dentists. Endodontists, Periodontists, Orthodontists and Prosthodontists all filled out the survey.

The authors showed a photo and asked what dentists would do to restore a tooth that had a filling and needed to be restored. They were looking at the restorations’ volume proportion and what this means to dentists (that is, how much of the tooth has to be restored). Yeah, we all know that.

If more than 60% of the tooth is missing after the decay and old filling is taken out, what do you do? The authors had the dentists look at pictures x-rays of molars and pre-molars and asked what they would do. Then they analyzed the results.

Much is what you would think. Dentists would do crowns at a higher rate for molars then premolars. (Actually I don't think that is the case for me. I think about bonding surface, and a molar has more tooth I can bond to. I do a lot of big fillings in molars. But this is not about me, sorry.)

One thing that they concluded was, and I quote, "Respondents outside the U.S. indicated crowns significantly less frequently than those in the U.S." Ponder that a minute. This is what I have been trying to tell you. Is it that we just have more patients that can afford a crown? Are we just getting greedy? Are we over-treating? Do dentists from other countries have a better understanding of composite resin and what it can do? Now we will never know, but what can we do about it?

I think someone needs to come out with some sort of system that says "A composite will work here." I know, I know, this will never work. But this simple study shows what I believe is becoming a bit of a problem with U.S. dentists: over-treatment.
Do you remember when the Cosmetic Dentistry was sweeping the country and everyone was flying to Vegas to jump on this steam engine? Well, in the middle of the chaos, Gordon Christensen wrote an article saying, "Hold up everyone. I think this is overtreatment." This can't be ignored. We have a tendency to move toward that. Anyway, that is just my opinion.

Have a great weekend. Do me a favor: go shopping this weekend and don't be so stressed.


P.S. I finished my tri-fold DVD speaker packet and I am in full mail-out mode. I’m finding state dental associations online, calling them, asking them for the woman in charge of the meeting, introducing myself, and asking if I can send my stuff over. It is not as easy as you might think. People ask me where I have spoken before to maybe get some references and I have to tell them that actually I have never spoken this lecture before.

"Oh, uh thank you very much," they say.

"Look, this is an opportunity for you to get in on the ground floor." Yeah, they are not buying it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pain in the Neck

Hey all,

Oh my gosh! It has been so long since we talked and I have so much to tell you. I don't even know where to begin. Sorry about last week. The AGD had a major computer issue and they spent most of the week rebuilding their servers. I have to admit that I liked the break, but I missed you all. I hope you missed me.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I hope there were no major fights with the family and lots of food and football. That reminds me: I took a little boys’ weekend Thanksgiving weekend. It all started because my 12-year-old loves the Minnesota Vikings (don't ask, it is a long story). We were talking about when we would be able to see them. They didn't play the Bucs or Jags in Florida, so the closest place was Atlanta.

Well, if we are going to be in Atlanta on Sunday, why don't we see if there is a college football game on Saturday? My friend was in the room and he is a South Carolina grad. You guessed it: South Carolina vs Clemson was the day before.

We got the green light from the wife and we bought all the tickets (the college game tickets were twice as expensive). The time for the Clemson vs USC game was TBA (they announced the 8pm game time one week before the game).

My friend said, "Me and my boys are going to the game too, but we are going to our hunting property for the previous week. Why don't you meet us and we will go hunting Friday night and Saturday morning, and then we will all go the game?"

Now, here is the thing. I have shot a gun ONCE in my whole life. I have no idea how to shoot or gun or hunt. But it sounds really manly and was perfect for our boys’ weekend.

We left at 8:30am from Orlando to Kingstree, SC. We rolled up to the camp at about 3:30pm and they were ready to go. He showed us the guns. We all got gun lessons and we all got one shot at a target. Then he announced, "Well, I guess we are ready."

So within 30 minutes of us pulling up to the camp, I was in a tree stand with a rifle and instructions. "If anything that looks like a deer comes out of the woods and starts eating that grass, well, you know what to do". There I sat until it got pitch black and nothing ever came into my sight (well, except a bunny rabbit, but I let him live).

Then the fun started. We all came down off our stands. The one dude’s family came and there were about 13 of us around the fire. We cooked out (venison with bacon wrapped around it and potatoes they had over the fire all day), drank beer and smoked cigars while the boys played and had a ball.

Five o’clock came around way too fast the next morning, and we were up in the stand again waiting for any movement. Nothing again. The only difference was that it was 5am and 34 degrees outside (I am from Florida, where it will be 81 today). But not killing anything didn't mean we couldn't feast again. Eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, juice. It was awesome.

This was as close to roughing it as I have ever known. I basically slept on the floor of a barn. We brushed our teeth with water from a pump and this Ritz-Carlton boy didn't do so well. My friend had family close by and we all were able to shower before the next leg of the trip.

Then we were off to Columbia, South Carolina to tailgate for the USC vs Clemson game. We got to the parking lot at about 3pm and the game was at 8pm. That meant more eating, drinking, smoking cigars and a lot of watching games and throwing the football.

The game was great. My friend was really happy because USC whooped up on Clemson. We fought traffic to get out of there and pulled into his parents’ place in Greenville at 1:30am (are we having fun yet?). We slept in a bed this time but were up at 8 to eat and get out to Atlanta for our 1pm Vikings vs Falcons game.

The game was great. Very loud, high energy, fun football. After the game, it was right into the car to drive 440 miles back home. We got home at midnight. Wow, I am tired just thinking about it that trip. My son had a blast and he was up for school the next morning like nothing. I was dragging all week. It was great.

I got tons of pictures. Here are a couple.

Today’s topic is pain. I am sure that I am not alone in this, but pain could be the #1 frustration I have in my office.

Post-operative pain: "These teeth never hurt before."

Phantom pain: "I was eating and I hurt this tooth. It hurt for a couple of days, I made the appointment, and now it doesn't hurt."

Real pain: “This tooth has been throbbing for 4 days and I have this pimple on my gums."

Nondescript pain: "The right side of my face hurts."

I want to talk to you about a patient I had. He came in with some fillings that were breaking down. One had a pulp exposure. After the procedure, I sat him up and told him that there may be issues with this tooth. Now, I do a lot of deep fillings and I do get pulp exposures and I rarely have people in pain. If I had more than five in a year, I would be surprised.

Let me rephrase that. I get post-op sensitivity all the time, but I adjust the occlusion and it is done. So I get less than five "This tooth you did a filling on hurts and has been hurting for 2 months and now is throbbing" cases a year. I get so few that I start to forget to tell people that there may be some post-op sensitivity.

A couple of months ago I did a few fillings on this guy. One of them had a pulp exposure. I did however warn him of problems. About two weeks later, he called with some pain. I told him that 99% of these issues will get better after an occlusal adjustment. But after the occlusal adjustment, I knew from his pain that this was going to be a 1% kind of thing.

Of course, three days later, we were doing a root canal on this tooth. It was #29. It was a by-the-book root canal. I told him I hoped to never see him again. Sure enough, the next day he called asking me if he should be in pain. I explained that he did have a root canal done and some post-op tenderness is normal. A couple days later, we were adjusting his occlusion again. I know you are all feeling my pain right now. Again, a couple of days later, he called saying he is still in pain.
I asked him if he was taking anything. He said he was taking ibuprofen and it was helping, but because he doesn’t like to take meds, he was only taking one tab every six hours, and it was helping.

Do you all know what is going on here? This guy is a total sissy. I have just walked this guy through this whole process, holding his hand all the way, and it turns out it is because he is a total sissy. One ibuprofen is like telling me you drank some water and it made it feel better.

Now I have a pain: a pain in my neck from this guy. It is one thing to deal with people in pain but to deal with patients that are sissies makes it worse for all the other people.

Hey I am so glad to be back.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Turkeys and Dolphins and Beers, Oh My!


Ahhh, waking up in the morning on Thanksgiving day. It was like walking into a technicolor world as I took my cup of coffee to the front porch to watch the sunrise. (Ok, I lied, I didn't wake up until 8:30, but the sunrise part sounded more impressive.) The thought of having 4 days off just invigorated me. We were going to be celebrating Thanksgiving at my cousin’s house, and we were responsible for the turkey. This is right up my alley! I think I was more excited about carving the turkey than I was eating it. Actually, now that I think of it, carving the perfect turkey just might be my next Youtube cooking video!

Adding to the festive atmosphere was the fact that the Miami Dolphins were playing football on Thanksgiving Day! (you know where this is going). How much better can life get? Turkeys, Dolphins, and beer! My whole family is Dolphins fanatics. Everyone had Dolphins garb on, from our little 3-year-old cousin to Grandpa. There were a few Cowboys fans scattered throughout the house (I’m not sure how they made it in) and I kept my eye on them the whole day.

The food was so good, and the turkey looked great all prepared on its plate. The game was just about to start and I did my ritual (face south and do a little bow in the direction of Dan Marino’s house). This had worked in the past, but the Dolphins of late have not been very good. If I only had a brain, I would have realized this before I got myself all wound up. At one point, I was convinced that the Cowboys fans had summoned the flying monkeys to swoop down and destroy our party. I didn't have the heart to tell everyone that I thought we were going to lose.

It was only the first of my 4 days off, and things were going downhill fast. The next day, I aimlessly walked around in a slight state of despair, but soon realized that my small vacation could be saved with the Gator game coming up on Saturday! I didn’t have the nerve to tell anyone that I was going to count on the Gators to save my vacation, so I quietly and patiently waited until game-time to reveal my excitement. I sprung from my room minutes before kickoff with my “I bleed orange and blue” tee shirt on. After the first quarter, I felt as though someone had dropped a house on me. I needed this vacation to end!

As I sit here now in my operatory, with the comfort of familiar things around me, it dawns on me all of the things I am thankful for: my children, my wife, my home, my office, my parents, my brother and sister, my health, and my great friends. It also dawns on me that I do have a brain, and I do have a heart, and that I do have courage, or I wouldn't be where I am today. I was really looking forward to those 4 days off, but I am glad I am back at work. Dorothy was right, there is no place like home.

Have a great weekend.



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