Thursday, July 15, 2010

Isn't technology great?! I can text a blog post now. Maybe I'll do it more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kill Dentist: Vol. 1

I love movies, and I tend to describe events/people by using movie analogies. This being said, I can think of no better way to talk about our little office. The girls were a little nervous about being blogged using their names, or even initials, so to protect their anonymity, they get aliases.

When trying to ascertain what movie best fits us, I really could not come up with a film whose characters embody us as a whole with regard to our personalities. That being said, I had to go with a movie that at least matched (or as close as possible) the numbers and genders of the staff and I. I considered using the Lord of the Rings trilogy and making all the girls hobbits (the tallest one is 5'2") but they were oddly offended at the notion. I work with a bunch of women, and I probably should have prefaced this.

The Kill Bill characters seem to work for several reasons. 1.) One man and four women. 2.) It's an iconic movie, so it would be a little more timeless that choosing Spiderman 3 as our example. 3.) The structure and organization of the Kill Bill "group" is really cool. Now these aliases are really just for identification purposes and each girl really doesn't necessarily embody their respective character's attributes. They all have their idiosyncrasies that are so funny.

The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad

Copperhead: CH has been working with me from the very beginning. She's my right hand when it comes to dentistry, and nothing would get done around here if she weren't running the show. She has a thick skin and can deal with me in a straight-up manner. I don't need to mince words with her and vice versa. She's in charge and knows it.

California King Snake: CKS was hired to be our hygienist 6 months after we opened, and she was our only one for a long time. She is a perfectionist, which is great when it comes to hygiene. I highly doubt I could scale teeth as well as she does. She has a hunger for knowledge, and is always trying to learn something new. When dealing with Spanish-speakers, she'll speak English to them with a Spanish accent. She doesn't realize it's happening, which makes it all the more hilarious. She's hyper-competitive, as well, so it's fun to challenge her.

Black Mamba: BlM is our newest assistant. She's young and a new assistant. BlM replaced our last assistant and has been a breath of fresh air for our little clinic. She's a tough girl, plays soccer, and has been known to get in a fight if need be. Sometimes she mispronounces words which a constant source of entertainment for the entire office. Currently, we call her "Bitewinks," because that's how she said bitewings one day.

Cottonmouth: CM is our new hygienist. She's been practicing for nearly 30 years, so she brings a lot of wisdom and experience to our young office.

Bill a.k.a. Snakecharmer: That's me. Like any good leader, I know how to motivate, and more importantly, manipulate those under me. For example, if I want to aggravate Copperhead, the boss, I undermine her authority somehow. I can threaten to demote her from the unofficial head assistant position. This ploy usually gets me ignored for at least half a day. Snapping my fingers, even in jest, earns me a half-day penalty. There is no denying my Dutton bloodline, because I can get a rise out of anyone.

With California King Snake, I'll educate her on something but intentionally give her incorrect information. The amusing part is that I typically forget to tell her that it was a joke, she goes home and tells her friends/family what she learned that day. A few days later she'll come to work proud of herself, because told her husband what she had learned from me. At that point, I remember and confess. I am ignored for at least half a day afterward. I also like to tap into her competitive drive by challenging her to various feats of strength. We once were going to have a push-up contest, but she reneged because her shoulder was hurting. It's always good fun to bring up the time she wimped out on push-ups.

For Black Mamba, I basically have to challenge her fortitude. This is pretty easy to do, because I just remind her of a time that I accidentally bit her head off. She was pretty angry afterward (I promptly apologized) and almost looked like she was going to cry. So now, I bring up the time she cried in my office. Ignored. Half a day.

I leave Cottonmouth alone. She is a kind soul and is undeserving of any additional torment. I only hope I amuse her with my antics with the other girls.

That is all I care to explain at this time, but hopefully there will be more on a later date. We're totally swamped!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blog-a-go-go! The Vicodin Diaries

Okay, I'm going to try to keep the dental blog upbeat, and write about the funny/good things that happen to me or the people around me. When I begin dwelling on the negative aspects, my imagination seems to take over, and I spiral out of control.

First, I am not trying to stereotype anyone, but I have noticed that a certain subset of the elderly population are always on some sort of hustle. With me, they are always trying to hustle pain meds. (If you've ever seen the Academy Award-nominated film, Hustle and Flow, then you'd know his type because he is a carbon-copy of the man that sells the main character a keyboard.) I removed this poor guy's last eight teeth yesterday, and before I had the gauze packed in his mouth, he was already telling me that he needed enough Vicodin to last him until he got his dentures made. That's what he said. What I heard was, "Doc, I need about 200 Vicodin." Fat chance, sir!

I informed him that he'll need the narcotic pain meds for about two to three days post-op. If he has pain that ibuprofen or acetaminophen (APAP) can't handle, then call us back, because there may be a problem. Typically, I hate telling patients this, but I have to. Most patients are pretty realistic and understand that there is a little bit of soreness to endure after a surgery. Some patients don't want to feel anything. Those are the one's that are calling back the next day wanting antibiotics because they think they have a flesh-eating superbug.

Pain management can be a tricky deal. I typically won't prescribe a narcotic pain meds unless I do something for the patient where there will be pain afterward e.g. extractions, surgery, root canal of an infected tooth. Vicodin/Lortab (same drugs essentially) can be sold on the street for $20 per pill! So in my mind, I had better have a iron-clad reason for giving them to people in case the DEA comes asking about my prescription-writing tendencies.

People with chronic pain maladies are either very easy or extremely difficult to manage. They're either already on super high doses of pain meds, like Lortab 10 (10mg of Hydrocodone, the narcotic,) so nothing I prescribe would even come close to it. These people don't even need anything else. Others, however, think they need pills for everything. Once they develop a taste for high strength pain medicine, that's all that will ever work for them. I can spot them immediately, because they already know the name and dosage of the pill they want afterward. I'm usually stubborn and argue with them about it, and I usually win. There are times, though, that I just compromise and give them less than they want but more than they actually need. Just get out of my face! Please!

Back to my newly edentulous (toothless) friend. I ended up giving him a few extra pills, so he won't be calling us up next week demanding more. The great part about this experience is that the teeth that were removed were loose, not decayed. I need some pristine teeth to practice a new endodontic (root canal) apparatus that I'm about to order. I spent the afternoon disinfecting them, so I can safely drill on them later. They bathed for a few hours in sodium hypochlorite (dentist-speak for bleach) and now they're marinating in formalin for their date with a drill.

So now I'm sitting here waiting for my last patient to get numb. I don't think it'll happen, because every time I try to inject him, he bites down and his tongue deflects the needle. I've earned my brown belt in tongue-jitsu, but this guy is especially tough. Not something I want to have with my last patient before the weekend.

Okay, J, my young assistant says we're good to go. I know this will be a battle. I start thinking about Tom Hanks calmly giving orders aboard the landing craft on Saving Private Ryan. "Port side, stick. Starboard side, stick. Move fast and clear those murder holes... Keep the sand out of your weapons, keep your actions clear... I'll see you on the beach."