There’s nothing like a ruptured disc in L2,to give you time to reflect. Actually there is also nothing quite like it for giving you an opportunity to lie on the floor screaming in pain as well. (It’s maybe not a bad thing for health care workers to experience emergency pain once in a while to help us understand the nature of suffering but I would stress the “once” in a “while” nature of this advice. Also, on this topic, and as a note to the coldly indifferent paramedic who “treated” me – when a patient is convulsing in pain, unable to breath properly and cannot think let alone speak, persisting with a “how would you rate your pain” questionnaire is perhaps a tad redundant . Still that’s another story and fortunately the attending emergency doctor dispensed with these matters and gave me a blissful injection that took me to happy land and then kept me there for the next few days).
Don’t worry this is not one of those “oh don’t ask me about my back – I’m an absolute martyr to my back” winges (well maybe a little). No it is more about the “wake up call” a (minor) health scare like this can give you. For all self employed business owners forced to take time off work it is usually seen as a disaster but it can, on occasion, be a blessing in disguise. The time it gives us to reflect on work, life and everything in between can be invaluable and, as in this case, has left me with renewed sense of purpose and drive albeit one tempered with a strong realisation that work is a distant second in importance to my family life. (Also the injury has meant that I am forever more banned from gardening – talk about a silver lining!)
I have a wife and family who I love dearly, a business I am immensely proud of, a business partner who it is an honour and pleasure to work with, a dream team of clinical and service support and am passionate about the work I do. This makes me a very lucky man. It also posses a dilemma; how do I balance them all? Sadly I have not had enough time off or, more likely, am not clever enough to come up with all the answers. But I have had a few insights.
1) First and foremost – protect your health. Hardly an original thought this one but we often need a little tap on the shoulder to remind us of our fragility. If I am to be a clinician and a team leader then I need to allow time for both and I cannot be all things to all people. My clinical skills are best utilised on a smaller number who are in greatest need. I have an amazing team of dentists, hygienist and therapists who can do so many things better than I can – I need to use them. If I do this then I will have time to concentrate on my well being, which benefits everyone.
2) Family is why we do all of the stuff we do. I want what is best for them and now realise that what is best is having a Dad and husband who is present, attentive, relaxed and happy. As a dentist I know I can support them to a reasonable level of comfort and beyond that it is all just ego and boys toys- yes there is some fun to had along the way but not if I have to work so hard to earn them that I mess up the important bits.
3) Being passionate about what I do is important but no one lies on their death bed and says “I wish I spent more time at work”. StoneRock’s mission statement says that we are committed to the pursuit, promotion and provision of excellence. I define excellence as being the best I can be and I believe that I am still striving for this and hope to still be producing the best work of my career the day I retire. I cannot do this if I am stressed, hurried, worn out or unhealthy.
4) I am a general practitioner and proud of it. I want to grow old with my patients and subscribe to a “dynamic life time therapy” approach where I will try and preserve their health of their mouths concentrating on health, function, beauty in that order. I do not know when it was that dentistry went all “Hollywood” and decided it needed award ceremonies and “best in show” medals but I fear they are at risk of detracting from the “professionalism” of our profession. The success of StoneRock will always be based on the attention of efforts of it’s team and the gratitude of our patients; awards of any description will not change this and are not worth pursuing.
Like I said I have not begin to come up with a definitive list of answers and we all need to strike our own balances but if this helps give any reader some food for thought with out them going through the undiluted joy of a ruptured disc then I am happy to have helped.
Let me finish by saying that Ken Gordon, of StoneRock Dental Care and SR Forest Row is by a “Pacific Ocean” the best osteopath I have ever had the pleasure to be treated by, thank you for your amazing skill and thank you again for telling my wife I can no longer do any gardening!