Thursday, December 29, 2011

The past is a cancelled check

I was happy to see a patient of mine in the office the other day. John has been with our practice for a few years now and I always look forward to catching up with him on his regular preventive care visits. His wife is also my patient and I greatly admire the warmth,values and love with which this beautiful couple are raising their family and contribute to our community.

John looked at me with a guilty expression on his face. "Doc, I've been bad... I know I am way overdue and my wife has had to cancel a couple of appointments during the year for me. Sorry. It's just been crazy and I know you're probably upset with me."

It was not the first time my hygienist or I had heard such sentiments from a patient who had not kept up with recommended therapy and preventive measures. How did I respond?

"John, the past is a cancelled check! There is nothing that we can do about it. Do you ever think about the checks that you have written that have already cleared from your account?" I asked

"Of course not" replied John, looking a bit puzzled.

"Well, your missed appointments are the same as a cancelled check. You can't do anything about that lost opportunity. What you can focus on is the future and take measures to ensure that you do everything you possibly can moving forward to maintain optimal health."

What I need from my patients is their commitment to their health and well being- not just compliance to our treatment recommendations. There is a world of difference between the two.

Our goal at the practice is to advise you and guide you towards optimal health. Your mouth is the mirror to your general health and your oral health. It is extremely important for you to come in at least twice a year for preventive care which includes an oral cancer screening among many other conditions we check for. If any treatment needs to be done, it is beneficial to do so early on so as to prevent further damage that would cost more, take more time and procedures and may have a poorer prognosis.

"John, I know first hand how hard it is to balance work, family and self but your health is your wealth. It is important to make time for your doctors' appointments. By putting your health first, you put your family first! So make your next appointment with us keeping THAT in mind. It will be a gift to yourself and your family, not an obligation to keep the appointment so the hygienist does not get upset. We are here to encourage you and support you. We are health CARE professionals, not compliance officers. We will do everything possible to make your visits comfortable, fun and educational so you are motivated to take care of your health and keep all of your recommended appointments."

The rest of John's appointment was spent on reviewing his health history, periodontal (gums)condition, checking for wear on his teeth, TMJ and muscle issues and cavities and responding to his cosmetic needs.

And yes, we did end up catching up and swapping notes on Steve Jobs' biography, the holiday season and what it means to us, the Westfield downtown traffic, Sponge Bob Square Pants and the debatable appropriateness of the program for a 4 year old, etc., etc...

John left with an appointment for his next visit and I know he will keep it for all the right reasons!

The new year is a new beginning for all of us. It is an opportunity to design our life to reflect our most cherished values and focus our efforts towards what is most important to us. Good health is an essential ingredient for all of us.

Balance is what I strive for- this Christmas season, I learned how to make patterns on Crayola's Extreme Design from my 8 year old daughter. The activity was therapeutic due to it's simplicity and enriching to my soul due to the time it gave me to spend with one of my favorite people in this world. Slowing down and recharging gives us time to think...

Lynda, Claudia, Queenie,Deborah, Jenna and Lina appreciate the opportunity to help take care of your health and look forward to a great year with you.

Remember, the past is a cancelled check and today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Be well,

Live well,

Do well!

Until next time,