My choices for 2006

Dec. 1, 2006
Every December, I tip my hat to the writers who put in long hours to provide the editorial content for this magazine.

Every December, I tip my hat to the writers who put in long hours to provide the editorial content for this magazine. I am very thankful for all of their efforts.

In chronological order, I offer some of my favorite passages from 2006:

Dianne Glasscoe - Some doctors have learned the secret to staff longevity, which is: Respect staff members as fellow professionals and show appreciation in ways other than the paycheck. When you think about it, it all boils down to love. Doctors who love their staff members treat them with respect and appreciation. Staff members who love their doctor want to please him/her by working hard and treating patients well.

[January issue, page 23. Why my vote: The “Staff Rx columnist” is typically very straightforward with her “Dear Abby” type of advice to her peers. Although this is not very exciting stuff to an editor (she seldom makes the list in this space), Glasscoe is an excellent writer. In January, she paused with the dispensing of advice to write about long-term relationships. The “be nice to each other” theme is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.]

Millie Thaw - As a young man, he made guitars from scratch and was a woodworker. On the weekends he played the Spanish guitar in his band. Those days are a distant memory. He now has Alzheimer’s disease. I miss the routine when he visited for coffee and helped me with my garden. This summer I had no garden. I am mourning him while he is still alive.

[January issue, page 58. Why my vote: Thaw was writing about her father, a very touching anecdote in sharing with readers with some tips about working with Alzheimer’s patients.]

Deb Grant - I would witness my daughter, Amanda, saying her prayers as a toddler. When she mentioned God’s name, she wanted to make sure He had the same last name as us. According to her, His name was “God Whitmer” (my ex-husband’s last name). Speaking of my “ex,” I had to make sure he knew she wasn’t talking to him!

[April issue, page 16. Why my vote: The “Mind, Body, & Spirit” columnist was extolling the benefits of laughter on our morale. Grant mainly quoted other folks with some of their funny stories. The one above is her story; I don’t think there’s anything wrong with her sense of humor.]

Patti DiGangi - The heart of dental hygiene education is prevention and its value is shown by EBD. Insurers and policy-makers are beginning to understand this. At the same time, the number of dentists is decreasing while the number of hygienists is increasing. These factors can position hygienists as the future leaders of the oral health profession. Can you see why hygienists need to embrace insurance and evidence-based dentistry? Are you preparing for that future?

[May issue, page 100. Why my vote: Actually, this one was probably my favorite article for the year. Although I don’t always agree with her, DiGangi has this way of making you see things differently - a nice trait to have as a writer.]

Cathy Alty - But why? Are baby teeth valuable? How is she able to fly while carrying all those teeth and all that money? How does she do all the currency conversions? The cost of giving all that treasure must be enormous! What is her unlimited funding source? Does she have a day job, or does she sell the teeth? Is there just one fairy like Santa Claus, or are there many? How does she know a child has lost a tooth, and how does she get into the house?

[June issue, page 18. Why my vote: Alty led off a review of the legends about the tooth fairy with some amusing questions.]

Lory Laughter - Recently, I had to give up a favorite pair of shoes. Granted, they were old, ugly, and worn out, but they were still comfortable. Perfect, except for that little issue of water coming in through the holes in the bottom. These shoes had been with me through parenthood trials of raising teenagers, the stress of selling a home, and the additional stress of purchasing one at the same time. The shoes had been there through divorce and moving on. They were my blanket.

[June issue, page 24. Why my vote: I recently looked at an old photo of my daughter when she was just a small child. Cutest expression on her face. The problem with the photo is her father. He was wearing this shirt he kept forever. He had cut off the sleeves and had painted the house while wearing it. So this sleeveless, paint-splotched shirt is part of the family archives. In fact, I think the reason the shirt no longer exists is because my wife burned it with much glee. Laughter, the “From the Edge” columnist, wrote about her shoes in a column titled, “Letting go is hard to do.” She was writing about dentistry’s “old and comfortable ideas” that are hard to let go of.]

Kirsten Brancheau - I once told my daughter that one of my life goals was to become a crazy old cat lady - you know, the kind you meet in the cat food aisle of the grocery store who tells you she knits booties for her cats. My daughter replied that I’ve already met this life goal, which is not quite true since I can’t knit.

[June issue, page 28. Why my vote: I’m glad most of you don’t know Kirsten. She knows our dirty little secrets. She knows what words I have trouble spelling, the stupid punctuation errors I commit. She’s a proofreader for us. Kirsten dislikes how often I talk about my dogs. She dared me to publish an article about her cats. Well, any article about crazy old cat ladies is going to get published. They’re entertaining.]

Noel Kelsch - Each morning when I wake up, I am greeted by a red, green, and orange toucan beak, a bright pink pig snout, and a gray elephant trunk. These noses remind me how lucky I am to have a nose to scratch and a place to perch my glasses. It reminds me how my life-saving advice literally saved my own life.

[July issue, page 26. Why my vote: Kelsch, who routinely checks for oral cancer lesions in patients, described a role reversal when a patient commented on a spot on her nose. Her introductory paragraph about what she sees upon wakening was a nice touch.]

Andrea Dedeaux - A year ago, I sat in my living room in the pitch black with a pistol in case someone came looting and I had to do some shooting. Today, I can lock my door, go to bed, and sleep because I have absolutely nothing anybody else wants or needs. A year ago, we drove into our town that was covered in mud and destroyed. Today, there are FEMA trailers scattered here and there and the weeds are high. City Hall is in trailers; I’m not even sure where the police department is; and I do not see how the coast will recover from this.

[September issue, page 12. Why my vote: This Katrina survivor certainly raised the hairs on the back of my neck with her observances of life one year after the hurricane.]

Lory Laughter - My son, Jake, was enlisted to help me with the yard work, and he set out to trim the bushes. About seven minutes into it he asked me why he was cutting everything back to eight inches. After all, he said, it is groundcover, so let it cover the ground. “But it is wild and out of control,” I told him. He reminded me that half my kids have the same issue, yet I let them grow. Where did he get such sarcasm?

[October issue, page 12. Why my vote: Laughter was comparing stagnancy in her landscaping with the doldrums in the profession. Her son, though, sounds like a smart one, doesn’t he?

Cathy Seckman - He couldn’t find the singer, engineer, or producer. The original publisher, Hawaii Music, had distributed the record under the Kapp label, which claimed it had never heard of Parallelograms. (It was learned later the information was filed under “Perhaps” instead of Perhacs.)

[October issue, page 30. Why my vote: You have to love those file names. Seckman was referring to a music producer who was tracking down the works of a dental hygienist who recorded an album back in the days of Beatles, hippies, etc.]

Anne Guignon - The designation, found only in Oklahoma, stands for Certified Medical Micropigmentologist. If you’re still in the dark, Julie is licensed to apply permanent pigmentation, or what is more commonly called a tattoo. Before you envision a rough-and-tumble, pipe-smoking, swaggering Popeye the Sailor Man with tattoos covering his bulging biceps, picture a statuesque, smiling blond performing permanent pigmentation procedures in her dental office in Marlow, Okla.

[October issue, page 34. Why my vote: Actually, I think Popeye is a compliment compared to what I normally envision as tattoo artists.]

Patti DiGangi - Recently, after a nice lunch, I went to the restaurant restroom and stood in the line that women so often experience. Two stalls for a restaurant that size just were not sufficient. I waited patiently while a mother with three young children attempted to take care of her personal needs - no easy task. The kids - being kids - punched, jumped, and played in the sink. When one of the children ran behind me, I turned to see what would be the next mischief. Lo and behold, there was another stall behind me that I did not see when I entered the restroom. My brain clouded my ability to see; I was blinded by my sight.

[October issue, page 66. Why my vote: Nice description of how we overlook things that are right in front of us. She was leading into a discussion about the challenges in screening for oral cancer. The “kids” have to be boys, right? As a patron of the other restroom, I was amused by the vision of boys punching, jumping, and fooling with the sink in a women’s restroom. No wonder women like us so much.]

I look at the world differently than you do. So don’t forget to let me know what your favorite passages or articles are. Have a very pleasant and peaceful holiday season! RDH

by Mark Hartley

[email protected]