Monday, August 3, 2015

"Gettin' Old Ain't For Sissies"...by Jim Terry

Getting older, I have noticed a few things that are really starting to annoy me but at the same timeand in the right moodalso make me laugh.  One of the things that annoy me is the fact that I used to be able to run five miles a day without a problem.  Having been exposed to several twisted ankles and a continually dislocated right knee over the years now due to sports and other activities, only seems to bring doubt to my mind that I can even accomplish such a feat now. Also associated with this feat, once accomplished, comes the probability that there might be a couple to a few days of recovery time once that task is completed. Another thing that seems to bother me as I age is my tendency to forget things. Being a type A personality, I should be able to control EVERYTHING shouldn’t I?  This is why, and in order to make myself feel better, that I now blame my forgetfulness on my increased responsibility as an adult verses what my reality really is…I am plainly and simply just getting older.  Just the other day I had one of those experiences that annoyed me but also made me laugh and cry at the same time.  Let me explain...

While I was working on a patient performing a routine dental cleaning, we started to discuss aging and how that can affect us.  My patient, a young woman in her sixties, began to talk to me about forgetfulness and how much that bothered her in her life.

She continued by saying, “Gettin’ old ain’t for sissies!”

As I began to polish her teeth and towards the end of her appointment, I told her I understood how she felt. It wasn’t until just seconds later that I realized what had been happening for about the last five minutes of her dental procedure.

First, and so you can get a better understanding of what the scene was, let’s define the “instrument cluster.”  An instrument cluster is located at the end of that arm attached to the dental chair that your dental professional will swing around into the working area where the drill, the suction and all the rest of the handpieces are located.  If the operator, the dental professional, does not place each of the instruments back in their proper location after each use on the module at the end of the arm, this then means they are not “grounded.”
And if instruments are not grounded properly, that can then produce a blast of air, or with certain instruments, a trickle or a gentle stream of water that will then flow from the instrument that is not properly placed. The instrument cluster during this particular procedure was located just to my side and a little behind my peripheral vision. 

Interestingly enough, as I hit the button on the chair to set my patient up at the conclusion of her appointment, I started to feel a bit of dampness on my chair. Apparently the entire last segment of her cleaning, as far as I could tell, encompassed one hand piece that was not properly placed. And as luck would have it, water not air, was streaming from the ungrounded handpiece. And guess where it was aimed?  It was aimed just perfectly to hit my lower back and then formed an amazing pond on the chair in which I sat on.

Once the water finally started to penetrate my “water resistant” scrubs is when I quickly jumped up and said, "what the heck?" As I stood there in silence with a bewildered and confused look on my face still trying to ascertain what had just happened to me, my patient then slowly turned around.  What did she see you might ask?  Well have you ever seen a beautiful waterfall?  This one not so beautiful but it was at that moment when she turned around that we both witnessed a small cascading waterfall that was gently, yet moderately, flowing from my lower back and derrière onto the floor below.  As she moved her eyes from mine and slowly moved them to the puddle in which I now stood, she reiterated with a chuckle, "As I said before, gettin’ old ain’t for sissies.”   

A commotion being created by laughter and tears—tears only created from both of us laughing so hard—coming from the operatory in which my patient and I were located, became an infectious positive influence throughout the rest of my day and certainly something I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. So with a wet backside and tears of joy in both our eyes as I walked my patient to the front, I put my arm around this sweet patient who taught me a powerful lesson that day and conveyed to her a big "thank you." 

She may never fully comprehend or understand the full meaning of why I said "thank you" to her that day because it was so much more than the laughter and joy we experienced together.  If you simply read between the lines of her statement of "gettin' old ain't for sissies," one might also be able to uncover a hidden message. This message, which has a much more insightful and powerful meaning, simply may be..."DO NOT regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.” 
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