Just another day at the office

April 1, 2002
I've battled an unstable cardiac arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) for three years and recently decided to undergo an elective procedure called cardiac ablation, hoping to restore my normal cardiac rhythm.

By Paul Homoly, DDS

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Dishes who?"
"Dishes is your work. It's important."

I've battled an unstable cardiac arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation) for three years and recently decided to undergo an elective procedure called cardiac ablation, hoping to restore my normal cardiac rhythm. Although my condition is not immediately life-threatening, the long-term affect of arrhythmia is stroke. So, on February 14, I climbed onto the operating-room table at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, hoping they could fix my "broken heart" on Valentine's Day. (I couldn't resist the poetic coincidence of the date).

As I was prepared for the surgery – IV lines, defibillator pads, nasal tracheal airways – the chatter of the cardiac team members amused me as they started their day. For them, it was another day at the office.

As some of you know, there's a certain clarity and enlightenment that comes with life-threatening events. What struck me with crystal clarity minutes before my procedure was the truly sacred nature of work. I wanted to write my thoughts down, but quickly realized that I was surrendering to the power of the brevital and versed. In what seemed like only a heart beat in time, I awoke in recovery with a fully restored cardiac rhythm – just another day at the office.

Take a trip

If you ever lose sight of why your work is important, take a trip to a critical-care heart or cancer facility. Read the expressions on the faces of patients waiting in wheelchairs, on respirators, or waiting for surgery, and you'll discover that they're all looking for answers and hope. When you're critically ill, being caught in the health-care system is being held hostage in a foreign country – you don't know the people, you don't understand the language, and you're not sure where you are. All you really are sure of is that you want to go home!

That's exactly what our complete care dental patients are searching for– they just want to go home, and they're looking for someone to help them. That's what being a health-care professional is all about.

Too young and healthy

You might be too young and inexperienced in life to appreciate health. That all changes the day you wake up with an irregular heart beat, a lump on your breast, blood in your urine, or an irregular purplish skin lesion. That's the day you'll begin to really understand fear. That's the day when you get very clear about what is important. That's the day when you start to search deep into the eyes of your doctors, hoping to find a passionate advocate to help restore your life.

What do patients discover when they look deep into your eyes? I can tell you what they want to see. Complete-care dental patients want to see that you understand where they are and how to get them home again. They want to see that you are a passionate advocate and feel that you will partner with them in a battle they don't understand. They want to see that you know your work is important.

Dentistry is important! Work done with the intention of restoring lives truly is a manifestation of God and honors the entire family of humanity. And, to argue that work dilutes the family and leads us away from the spirit is simply not appreciating and recognizing the gift that health-care practitioners are to the world.

It's easy to lose sight of the purpose of our work because we're around it all day long and may take so much for granted. Some people have discounted work, subordinating it to loftier pursuits like quality family time or serving God. I've heard it said, "When I'm on my death bed, the last thing I'd wish for is another day at the office." Well here's some news for you: I've been in near-death situations and the choice between death or another day at the office is an easy one – sign me up for another day at the office! I consider the practice of dentistry to be important. I hope you do, too.

Dr. Paul Homoly coaches dental teams to implement reconstructive dentistry through his continuing-education workshops, private consulting, and seminars. This column is an excerpt from his new book, Isn't It Wonderful When Patients Say Yes? – Case Acceptance for Complete Dentistry. Dr. Homoly can be reached at (704) 342-4900 or via email at [email protected]. Visit his Web site at www.paulhomoly.com.

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