Six random thoughts

May 1, 2009
Earlier this week, I talked with someone about the difficulties in providing access to care in California's current economy.

by Mark Hartley
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Earlier this week, I talked with someone about the difficulties in providing access to care in California's current economy. The week before, e-mails were exchanged with someone else about manpower models for the dental hygiene profession. Intermittently, I have listened to other explanations about what's wrong with dentistry and nursing homes (my father-in-law is undergoing rehabilitation at such a facility, so paying attention to my wife's concerns is required listening). The economy in general is another topic of interest. When I woke up this morning, I listened to a news story about an unemployed man taking his nine-year-old daughter with him as he robbed a convenience store.

I asked Meg, our proofreader, for six random words. Her words, in order, are: rain, lunch, sister, clean, Friday, and music. She wanted to add a seventh word, boooooring!, to describe her thoughts at 8 a.m.

• Rain — This is not a hard one to understand. It's supposed to rain today. But the prediction is for the milder stuff, nothing tornadic. If a tornado does pop up, please don't write, as some readers do. First of all, Oklahoma is the 20th largest state — almost 70,000 square miles. Generally, tornados are very small in size. In more than 50 years, I have only seen one, standing miles away on a hilltop. But, yes, we mentally keep our fingers crossed that we are never caught in the direct path.

• Lunch — Well, gee, Meg, it's only 8 a.m. The breakfast cereal is still gurgling around down there. But there's a couple of burger joints, Ron's and Harden's, that are close to PennWell. The White River Fish Market is a little farther down the road, but they offer good seafood in a rather rustic environment. If you're ever in Tulsa, I'll take you out to lunch.

•Sister — I have one, just one sibling. She's eight years younger than I, and she's the quintessential Texan with a heart of gold. I forgot to call her on her birthday a little earlier this month, which makes me feel a little guilty.

•Clean — Perish the thought! I insist on washing my own clothes, however, and my teeth are clean. Just don't ask my hygienist for a second opinion.

•Friday — It's Thursday as I write this, and I guess everyone thinks about tomorrow on Thursday, right? I'm no exception.

•Music — Here's a direct quote from my MySpace profile, which requests information about “interests” in music: “Sorry. Hearing impairment.” I don't listen to it. If I absolutely have to, put on the classical stuff.

The latter brings me back to the nursing home. I frequently listen to hygienists talk about the challenges in getting caregivers to focus on oral hygiene with their elderly charges. The facilities' staffs just don't have the time, too many other priorities.

My father-in-law needs a hearing aid badly. After a couple of weeks of hearing very little in a very strange place, I realized this was affecting his quality of life. Literally, everyone was yelling at him to convey important information. How does that lead to a good feeling about waking up in the morning? So I went to Radio Shack and bought an assisted hearing device as a temporary measure. Hearing what everyone is “fussing” about in regard to his health makes a big difference in his quality of life.

Oral hygiene is the same way. Is there ever an age when anyone enjoys poor oral conditions? The effort by dental hygiene in the nursing home setting is extremely important. It's about quality of life, and innovative solutions are a dime a dozen. Noel Kelsch for example, writes about infection control tips while providing “mobile” care in these settings in this issue (page 64). Keep up the good work (and keep at it!).

Thanks, Meg, for a few random thoughts. I needed to clear my head.