As a kid whenever I went to the doctor, my doctor would tell me the same story. It was about how he really wanted to be a Veterinarian but was never able to get into Vet school, so he became an MD instead. It always inspired a lot of confidence in me as to his abilities. Despite this, I’ve always thought that there was a lower rung on the medical ability ladder. It’s what you call individuals who flunk out of Medical school, Dentists!
I have never liked the Dentist. In fact you might say that I’m a rabid Anti Dentite. So it was with great enthusiasm that I went to my dental appointment today. I’ve been going to the same Dentist for about 12 years now, and over this time period have gained a fair amount of trust in him (about as much trust as you can have in an individual that flunked out of medical school). So when I sat in the chair and was informed that a new Dentist would be seeing me, I had my doubts.
He started by looking at the new radiographs of my teeth. The first thing he commented on was the fact that I still have a couple of my wisdom teeth. My hackles instantly went up, a Dentist suggested to me when I was eighteen years old that he thought I needed to have them taken out (I immediately walked out of his office, and didn’t go back to a Dentist for 13 years, a guy as foolish as I am, can’t afford to be having any extra wisdom yanked out of his mouth). But today’s dentist slightly redeemed himself when he said “I guess if they haven’t given you any problems yet, we’ll just leave them alone.”
Yet I soon grew to dislike him again. When he informed me that I had a crack in a tooth, caused by of all things a filling. Put in by .... you guessed it, one of those medical school flunk outs, a dentist. I swear as he gave me this news, I saw the hint of an evil sadistic gleam in his eye. This would require a crown to be put on, and I would get to come back and see him again next week. Yay! Just what I wanted to do.
When I got home, I was all alone. My wife and kids had gone to water world for the day, and hadn’t made it home yet. So I sat down in the chair on the porch to wallow in my sorrow of having to go back next week to sit in his torture chair. I closed my eyes, and had nearly fallen asleep, when I felt some gentle pressure on my chest. As I opened my eyes, I found myself eye to eye with the kids’ cat. As I began to pet it, and to listen to it purr, my frustration with the dentist quickly melted away. Animals have an amazing ability to connect with people, and ease their burdens.
It reminded me of my last appointment of the day. A young girl, accompanied by her Pastor and his wife, had brought in her horse to investigate it’s weight loss. Here I played of all things, a Dentist (teeth problems can be a common cause of weight loss in horses). Yet based on what I was finding, dental problems didn’t seem to be the issue, medical problems didn’t seem to be the problem. It appeared to be nutritional, in that the horse was just not receiving enough groceries to meet it’s energy needs. As I began to question her about her feeding practices, she started to cry. She wasn’t crying because I was playing a Dentist. Apparently there are tensions at home between her parents, and my questions about feeding the horse seemed to have struck a nerve, and brought to her mind some of that family tension. Suddenly it hit me that she wasn’t there with her parents, but with friends from Church who cared about her. As she dried her tears, I noticed how she looked at her horse, and the love that she had for that mare. I counseled her about the nutritional needs of her horse, and the proper feeding of it. All the while thinking I was grateful she was there with her Pastor, who could potentially help provide a kind of counseling that I suspect she needs even more. While I lack the ability to solve that little girls problems, or to ease the tension between her parents, I’m grateful that she has a friend like her mare. A friend that will listen, and love her, and can help get her through her tough times.