A long-term professional relationship … and her teeth
Many years ago, or so it seems, I returned to London after having been away for fifteen years (in the USA and Australia).
I had sold my practice in central Sydney and arrived back in the UK looking for a ‘perfect’ dental practice to buy, or buy into, in central London.
Just after the New Year of 1997 I got a call on a Friday from an agency asking me if I could take over a private practice in Wimpole Street, the heart of London’s medical West End on the following Monday as the dentist, Dr Peter A, had just died. I agreed.
So on Monday morning, I arrived to a great location, crap equipment, a lovely nurse , a ‘battle axe ‘ middle aged, tough practice receptionist and a full book of patients! I took over all these patients that really had loved Dr A and who couldn’t understand why I was not just like him … female patients cried and men were not far from it! Well, yes, he certainly was without doubt a lovely guy, popular because he was really kind, thoughtful, fast and cheap (well, shall we say ‘inexpensive’).
What did I inherit? I had a lot of ‘repair ‘ work to; yet I certainly could not provide my level of quality of treatment at his level of fees. So after fixing up all those patients, quite a few left. I guess my character and personality, not to mention my clinical approach and my fee levels, were really different from Peter A’s. Those patients that stayed with me have become my most loyal and trusting patients over the years.
One of the patients that stayed with me was Joyce Cook. She is a petite, very feisty, highly intelligent, confident, very dignified lady, a professional herself – a speech therapist. She had ‘survived’ the previous three dentists in that practice and there I was telling her everything that was ‘falling apart ‘ in her mouth! I recall that at that time I had no idea if she was going to ‘run a mile’ or carry on with me? After twelve years in Australia, I had taken on the directness and straight talk of the Aussies and Joyce, perhaps of similar nature herself, decided to ‘give me a go’. I became her dentist and she put her trust and faith in me.
Shortly thereafter, I relocated from the West End to the City ( not really ‘convenient’ for Joyce ) and almost eighteen years later , she has seen me eighty nine times . That translates into about a hundred and twenty hours in my dental chair!
What has she got to show for it? I have carried out fifteen crowns, one bridge, one implant and four root canal treatments, most of which was done earlier in our relationship. In the last years almost all of the appointments were regular half yearly check-ups, scaling and cleanings and some minor treatments ……. just ‘maintenance ‘ really. Six other teeth had crowns placed over thirty years ago that are still absolutely fine. So she has pretty well all her own teeth intact underneath; not many people of her generation have that.
All that dentistry needs to last at least another fifteen years and it will. Joyce Cook will live to over a hundred. She has a really healthy, immaculately clean, hygienic mouth with strong, comfortable, natural looking teeth that show in a beautiful smile as befits her youthfulness, energy and life force.
So, during all these years we have got to know each other’s personalities pretty well. She is highly intelligent with a strong, honest personality, direct and open with her opinions. I know exactly what she has thought of every single one of the staff I have employed over the years and she was always ‘spot on. Joyce never fails to ask me about myself, my family and children; she genuinely cares.
It has always been and continues to be not just an honour but an absolute pleasure to treat this amazing lady…from my point of view, my ‘perfect’ patient.
I have asked Joyce to write a follow up guest blog on her experiences and feeling as my patient over the last eighteen years.