Friday, March 27, 2009

The Only Constant Is Change

I don't like change. What's worse, the older I get, the greater the extent of my dislike. It truly pains me to say this. I remember fondly the glorious days of my youth when I not only enjoyed change, I embraced it. I soaked it up like a hungry sponge. I looked at each new circumstance as a grand adventure to be explored. A new opportunity for success or failure. It didn't matter, the value was in what could be learned from the experience. Sadly, with every passing day, I find myself appreciating more the comfort and safety of having things remain as they are. These days I take more joy in living a carefully planned day that didn't involve any surprises, than a day fraught with unexpected situations.

I got along pretty good in my younger days, no better or worse than anyone else I'm sure. Through all the years of my education, I was surrounded by people my own age and tended to hang out with others that felt the same way I did. It was quite a shock when I graduated college and entered full-time employment. I was suddenly thrust into a 4-story building that was filled with way too many "older" people. But again, I saw this as a new adventure. I happily began my career.

Very quickly, I got frustrated at the amount of griping and complaining being done by the older crowd. Computers were just getting to be understood as a tool that could be used to increase productivity. Not many people had them back then, the Internet was still a government research project. But what got me was that so many people were not the slightest bit interested in having them. When they found out they would not have a choice but to get a computer on their desk, you would have thought you gave them the worst news of their lives. I struggled to understand what the big deal was.

Now, I no longer find myself one of the youngest people at work, or even among the middle-aged people. The best I can do is say that I'm in the "younger" bracket of the "older" segment of our staff. I understand now, that those people I started full-time employment with did have some reason to complain. These days it seems I just learn how to do one thing, when everything changes and I have to learn something else.

I went to the dentist this week. My dentist of almost 20 years had to sell his practice because of a family situation. I wasn't worried. I knew my old dentist cared enough about his customers to not leave them with the first tooth-scraper to come along. I had also heard from the new owner's clients and they had quite pleasing things to say. I was also comforted that the hygienists would be staying and so the woman that has cleaned my teeth since the 3rd grade (over 30 years) would continue to do so.

I sat down in the waiting room to enjoy my brief time away from an office that is way too busy for this time of the year. I knew something was wrong the minute my name was called. "Randy?"

I looked up not to see the woman I expected but someone else. My heart plummeted. Things were very busy with all the changes and there were scheduling issues with the new computer system so my hygienist was busy with someone else. I tried very hard to not let my disappointment show as I was led down the hallway and into a chair.

As soon as I opened my mouth, my worst fears were realized. My old hygienist knows my mouth up and down, in and out. She knows what teeth they have been keeping an eye on and what teeth are safe to be left alone. My mouth was a complete stranger to this woman who immediately started saying things like, "Oh dear," and "Oh my." With every syllable, I had to suppress a groan, visions of dollar signs danced in my head as I imagined what my next month's dental bill was going to be.

She pressed hard on one spot in the back of my mouth, "does this hurt?" She inquires.

"No," I said, "it feels fine." So she presses harder, I actually hear her give a soft grunt she's pressing so hard.

"Does that hurt?" She gasps. "No," I replied, "It feels fine." Evidently, she's still not satisfied with my answer so she goes in again. This time digging and scraping with a vengeance. "Are you sure this doesn't hurt?" She asks again.

I'm thinking, now that you've attempted to excavate a small canyon in my mouth, yes, I am starting to feel a bit uncomfortable. "Just a little," I say.

"Well, we may have to do something about that." Yes, I thought, you just did do something about that. The cleaning continued.

Finally, she gets over to the other side. In all fairness, I have been needing to get a crown on this one back molar that's got a filling the size of a small silver mine. But these things cost money, so I've been holding out as long as possible. When she got the metal hook into that tooth, she started to swoon. "You really have to get a crown on this one." She says.

"Yes," I withered. "They've been keeping an eye on that for some time."

Mercifully, the cleaning ended. I felt as though I'd weathered another storm. I had to chuckle that I came in from a storm outside to walk into another one sitting in that chair. Isn't life grand?

My new dentist walked in. I liked him immediately. Young, sharp as a tack, and very confident in his abilities. I began searching for a ray of hope. Amazing how he was able to check things without digging and scraping everything in sight. Yes, I know, the reason was because my teeth were now clean and no more scraping was needed. Cut me some slack.

He very calmly explained that though I hadn't been having trouble, this cavity had slowly grown quite long and really did need to be taken care of before it caused any worse damage. "Fine, set it up."

Then he explained about my crown. The reason that molar wasn't bothering me was because it bit down on an empty space created by a bottom tooth that had been pulled years ago. There wasn't any pressure being placed on the bad tooth and so I was not experiencing any pain. My old dentist had told me all of this as well, so it wasn't any surprise. "Get 'er done!" I said in my, "Larry the cable guy," accent.

We talked about the gap from the tooth-pulling and implants and bridges. I finally got my silver lining. Because they have oral surgeons on staff, they can do implants at a ridiculously reduced price. It would still be very expensive, but not near as bad as the estimates I had been getting in previous years.

But I put my foot down, "I've got 2 kids worth of braces to pay for first." To his credit, he immediately grasped the magnitude of my situation. I think I will get along with this dude just fine. I will not say change is bad, I just have a harder time dealing with it these days. I did like the new computer system. I sat there as my hygienist was scheduling my next cleaning. She very nicely scheduled it with my regular hygienist and apologized for all the hubbub. She said she understands perfectly that it is nice to be seen by the same people for each visit. Then she told me that they have water in their basement crawl space and that she dearly hoped it wouldn't get to the main floor.

Every unkind thought I had been having just melted. My heart truly goes out to people affected by the flooding. This experience has really hit home for the Bismarck-Mandan area. I thanked everyone for their service and got into my car with my complimentary toothbrush and prayed the serenity prayer which I thought very appropriate for the situation.

"Lord, grant me the patience to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference."

To everyone affected by the events this past week. Take heart. This too shall pass. Do what you can for others, and may God bless us all.


Steve at Random said...

An interesting blog...about half way through, I remembered a quote from a guy who retired from MDU after 45 years. He said, "I've seen a lot of changes and I was against them all." I was probably 30 when I heard that comment and I thought, what a rough life this man has led. We need to be flexible or we'll break...just like a twig in the wind. By the way, I've had my hygenist since we moved to Mandan. We've aged together and our kids have grown up together...although her two girls are a couple of years younger than my boys. Still, we know a lot about each other after so many teeth cleanings. And I understand the braces. Scott got his braces just after I lost my job at MDU...but we had some savings so it wasn't a big thing. Just the timing was scary. And you're right about the flooding. Included in my prayers are those affected by flooding or potential flooding. Doctors have been cautioned to watch for depression among their patients because of flooding. The damage isn't always just to their property.

randymeiss said...

Here's a link to a Boston Globe website with photos of the Red River flood. Great examples of people helping people.

Ar Vee said...

Randy I too was at the dentist last week and again on Thursday this week for Deep Cleaning and root planing.I have found the more I visit about things the worse it is,so I don't say much.I talked the hygienist on my last visit,several mouths ago, and by the time she passed it on to the dentist,The dentist was not very pleasant.Some words must have been mis-placed between me speaking them and dentist receiving them.My dentist is a young lady.When I first went to her she was just out of school.Then she was just happy to have a customer.Almost bouncy!!She did the teeth cleaning and probably swept the foors,too.She was the nicest person I've ever met.Very cautous not to hurt,and that isn't easy for a dentist,and always apologizing for the least mis-step.She has a two-month waiting list now and seems to burdened with the weight of her responsibility.I'm not sure but I think she has a deadbeat hubby.I've heard her comments about out him and hope they don't translate into hostility to men in general.Maybe she is just so kind she doesn't like the deterioration getting old brings to her patents.I got a smile,maybe a laugh,out of her on my last visit last week,something about winter.Those Docs have alot on their mind.I always extend my thanks and appreciation to those who care enough to help others.I wouldn't want to work in peoples mouths everyday.God Bless those who do.The People in Fargo are a good example for the people of America.I hope they get more TV time to show the world what it means to volunteer.

AZJim said...

What timing. I am going to the dentist tommorrow. Doctors and Dentists, my least favorite places to go. Hopefully things will be fine and I will have the same hygenist. Your talk of change made me think of the meeting we had at work when we were informed of the government breaking up the Bell System. They talked about the future being full of change and that if you didn't want to change to get out of the boat. Boy, they were right also. The rest of my career was one change after another. I have to admit for the most part it was all positive.

Steve at Random said...

Randy, Are you trying to tie DVD for hosting the worst kept blog? Come on...something must be on your mind.

randymeiss said...

Sorry, work has been unbearably busy lately. Then, when I get home, all I want to do is sleep. I got my crown impressions done today, I'm just now getting the feeling back into my cheek. But that's not very exciting.