So it’s 7:45 Saturday morning and I’m awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of my cell phone ringing. “ Expletive!” I forgot to turn off my alarm clock feature, or so I thought. Stumbling out of bed, I reached for the dreaded dream destroying droid only to discover that I had an incoming call. After groggily greeting the caller, I heard a woman respond, “Oh, I wasn’t expecting to get a real person on the line, I broke my tooth and need help before Monday…..I have an important meeting…..leaving for Pennsylvania…” Not knowing who I was talking to, with cobwebs lingering in my head, night-guard still in my mouth, I took the caller’s name and number and told her I’d call her back in 15 minutes. Before hanging up, I realized that this lady was not a regular patient of mine and found out that she learned of me through a Google search!
I jumped into the shower, pondering the predicament: a total stranger calls me out of the blue in the wee hours of a Saturday morning after finding me on the Internet. She’s not in pain, but is clearly distressed. I have no available staff. Do I open the office to see a female stranger alone without supervision? Do I try to locate another dentist with Saturday hours? Is this a true emergency or a terrible inconvenience? Awashed, awake and alert, I finish showering and call “her back. After ascertaining that she does indeed need immediate care, I agree to see her as long she comes in with another adult.
9:30 am: Jackie (not her real name) arrives at the office with her sister, Jamie (also, not her real name). Jackie had broken her four front teeth in a fall. Additionally, two of her other teeth were knocked loose. Having calmed her down, (to say she was nervous is an understatement) we proceeded to the operatory where her sister Jamie sat in my assistant’s chair and held her hand throughout the 2+ hour “appointment”. I don’t know who was squeezing whose hand harder, but before long I had them both smiling and laughing. Jackie was unaware of the injection I was giving her and kept asking Jamie if the needle was in. And both started giggling while the Lidocaine was being administered. The more I bantered with them, the more they laughed. The anxiety and distress of the situation was but a memory. As strange as it may seem, there was a backdrop of levity and humor amidst an otherwise serious situation.
In the end, I bonded and stabilized Jackie’s battered teeth. Her smile was beautifully restored (if I do say so myself). Actually, Jackie thought they looked better than before and Jamie had been regularly updating concerned family members on her iPhone during the procedure proclaiming how wonderful and natural Jackie’s teeth looked. (One might say that she had chair-side seating giving bond-by-bond analysis to her listening audience.)
When we left the office, I was bolstered by the feeling of a job well done and a good deed done for someone deserving and in need. Nothing is more rewarding than being the recipient of a grateful smile. I will be seeing Jackie again soon for follow-up care.
The curious thing is that she did call her regular dentist and spoke to his service. She just never heard back from him.