Tuesday, August 7, 2018
7 August 2018
Does anyone out there know of a good, ethical dentist? I am sure that they abound, however this has been an illusive search for me covering about four years. You see I had a great dentist for 40 years. He up and retired 4-5 years ago. He sold his practice to an unknown practitioner. Just before he left he told me that I needed to see a specialist because one of my pearly whites had died and I needed special consultation. This started the dilemma that plunged me into a dental black hole.
The specialist I was referred to is an old friend. I've known him for about 30 years. I used to call on him and sell him an injectable pain reliever when I was repping for a pharmaceutical company. I made an appointment and got an assessment on the tooth that was in trouble. Before anyone ever fired up a drill I was in the red about two hundred bucks for x-rays and other diagnostics. The conclusion was " Yep, Lee that tooth is dead as a hammer." We need to extract it then look at whether we need to do an implant. Cost of an implant? About $5,000.
However, we need to send you over to another specialist and have him look at it because it looks like it is cracked. He is able to make a a better assessment that I can. Off to see dentist #3. He x-rayed the tooth in question ( not sure why he couldn't look at the other guy's x-rays). Conclusion: Yep, that tooth is dead and needs to be extracted. Well, I asked, can you extract it? Oh no. You will need to go back to dentist #2 to get that done. He is better equipped for the job. Oh, and incidentally, your dentist of 40 years is very out of touch and needed to have retired. $180 dollars please. That was when I realized how much I loved my old dentist. He was NOT out of touch. He used to teach at the university. My whole family used him. He was a great guy and took care of all of us very efficiently.
In the meantime I had done two things. I procurred some dental insurance. Heretofore, I had always found dental insurance to be a poor investment. Because I had healthy teeth the benefits never added up to the premiums I had to pay. Secondly I began seeing a general dental practitioner. Dentist #4 was the son of a good friend who had just set up practice. Over the course of a year I paid out $900 in dental insurance premiums and they had in turn paid for two cleanings totaling $400. Net loss $500. So the sum total of contributions to the dental folks here in Tallahassee $880. That does not include the $900 in dental insurance premiums. I am in the tank almost $1900. And I still have the dead tooth which no one has done anything about.
Upon seeing dentist #4 with all the incumbent diagnostics fed to him from the specialists he told me that my tooth was sure enough dead and needed to be extracted. I asked him simply and innocently could he please extract it? His reply was oh no, no, no. You need to go back to see dentist #2. He is the best equipped to do the extraction. Incidentally ( no pun intended) this tooth has not caused me the first nano-second of discomfort. At this point, I am getting pretty disgusted and disillusioned about the practice of dentistry at least here in Tallahassee.
I began a search for another dentist. I found one and contacted their office. Sure, they would be glad to see me. I made the appointment in the summer of 2017. They told me they would put me on a waiting list. I finally got an appointment for January of 2018. I also cancelled my dental insurance since it seemed to be the pariah I had always believed it to be. They limited their total coverage to $1500 in a year. That cost me $900. I seldomly was going to require much more than a cleaning year in and year out. Except for this rogue tooth that no one seemed to want to address. It was pretty much of a wash to just self insure. So here am I at dentist #5
My appointment comes. I get a cleaning and an assessment along with a treatment plan. Your tooth is dead and needs to be extracted. What a revelation. Appointment made for extraction and lo and behold it was done. Plans made for a bridge to be put in place. Cost = $2500. I am not happy but at least I finally found someone who would DO SOMETHING !!
Now the bridge is in place and I am pretty satisfied. Still no pain but the dead tooth is gone. The pain comes in the form of a bill for $4,000. Call to dentist #5's office. Hello my treatment plan said the cost was $2500. Oh, we are sorry but you do not have dental insurance. I respond, yes that is correct, I advised you of that on day one. If you do not have insurance then we have to charge you more. I respectfully inquire " What are you talking about ?" Oh you see we offer a discount to patients with dental insurance. I do not comprehend. The treatment plan clearly says $2500. Now this new wrinkle in the convoluted world of dentistry comes into play. A new fight begins.
Now I have to engage Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration and my attorney to determine what kind of a worm hole I have been dropped into now. So now on to dentist #6. I repeat my opening question. Does anyone out there know of a good ethical dentist?
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Thursday, April 5, 2018
I took up golf later in life. Through the influence of a good friend who was a great athlete and gifted golfer my wife gave me clubs for Christmas in 1984. I played HS football, basketball and baseball and was always good enough to make the squads and was always a starter, first team and decent player. The various sports I participated in came pretty easily to me. Later on, I took up racquetball through the influence of a friend who flew big jets for Air Florida. I beat him consistently from the very beginning. I could never determine whether I was that good at the sport or if he was that bad. I am pretty sure it was the latter.
That brings me to golf. At 38 years of age I picked up a club for the first time. I am right handed so of course my wife bought me left handed clubs. However, that was OK because I always batted left handed in baseball and softball.I went to the range with my friend and pounded a couple of hundred balls. Mostly, I hit them very badly. It seemed that strength, swinging hard and getting angry when you missed a ball were all things to be avoided. 33 years later I still have not progressed much beyond that. I have scored 80 four times in the 33 years I have played. I scored a 77 on one course, one time out of hundreds of rounds. The best my handicap ever got was a 12.
Golf is a very funny game. The harder you try at it the worse you get. You basically have to play the game and swing the club as if you don't care about the result. About ten years into playing I took five lessons from a local Pro who is a wonderful teacher. He tried to talk me into playing rightie. It was not worth the effort to switch. I heard many sayings about golf over the years. Most of them are not repeatable in mixed company. The one that I heard that was the most amusing and I think applicable was: " Golf is like sex. You do not have to be an expert at either to enjoy them."
I earned my living within the pharmaceuticals industry working 30 years for DuPont. It was a wonderful career and I enjoyed every minute of it. I worked my way up from Sales Rep to Government Affairs manager. As the GAM I was responsible for lobbying 3 states and staying involved with Professional Associations in medicine and pharmacy. When an issue heated up I would hire consultants to help me work compromises that would protect our business. These consultant/lobbyists became my friends. The money we paid them was decent for 3 months work surrounding the legislative session.So renewing the contract year to year was a lifeline for them all.
That brings me to the point of my post today. One of the consultants I had hired invited me to attend the Masters with him in 1999. I jumped at the opportunity. We played a round of golf on the way up and spent the night in Macon and then on into Augusta the next morning. I was in love with the game of golf at this point. Here I was attending the Masters on a beautiful spring day in April. After all the blood letting to find a parking place we gained admittance and there I was standing on the most famous course in the world. The place was overwhelming. I was very much like a Muslim making a pilgrimage to Mecca and walking around just soaking it all in.
Everywhere you looked there was nothing but the greenest grass you have ever seen. Azaleas were in full bloom. There was not a weed anywhere in sight. The greens were absolutely magnificent and the most lovely you have ever seen anywhere. Surprisingly the food and keepsakes, ie: hats, shirts, balls, etc. were very affordable. After eating a hot dog and some chips I was advised that I should find a space along one of the par three holes and get ready to watch the par three tournament. I did so. Sat down and prepared to watch the tournament. The onions I had eaten on my hot dog were laying sort of hard on my palate. I decided that I wanted to spit and I turned my head to do so. However, before I did the thought entered my head that " this is hallowed ground. This is Augusta National. You cannot spit on this ground." I forewent spitting and sipped my Diet Coke and got ready for the tournament. Such is the effect that that place has on golfers.
I was not prepared. I knew that they played a 72 hole tournament, however, the fact that on the Wednesday practice round they played this little par three tourney that was mostly just fun had eluded me. The professionals had their families including their young children playing down the fairways with them. But it was the who's who of golf that caused me to revere the moment. There parading down the fairway were all the greats of golf. Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Crenshaw, Player, Singh, etc. I could have almost reached out and touched them.
I spent the day traipsing around the course. My mouth hanging open and savoring every moment. That is why I ended up with sun burned tonsils. I don't think I would ever go back. There are far too many people there nowadays and the parking is impossible. The best way to watch any golf tournament is on the television. However, that one day I sat in the presence of the demi-Gods who had perfected the game. It was a sight to behold.
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
It has been almost a month since the Parkland, Florida Stoneman Douglas school shooting. The fallout has been a game changer on numerous fronts. The assault rifle has found fewer and fewer friends. The 2018 legislative session was turned on its ear towards gun control leaving many important issues laying in it's wake that were never taken up. Acne scarred adolescents were propelled into the limelight by the event as long as they were to parrot the talking points of those on both the right and the left. You could see them lined up endlessly on either CNN or Fox News on the nightly shows. The NAR, which teeters on the cusp of being public enemy number one or the salvation of mankind with their far reaching stance on the second amendment was seen in an endless stream of public discourse. They have now launched a law suit against the state's efforts to raise the age for lawful gun purchase. Mental health advocacy has seen a bit of the spotlight since we do not seem to be able to adequately sift out these threats hiding in personalities too endless to inventory.
I have 7 grandchildren that attend the public schools here in Leon county. I have always felt that they were safe here. I had occasion to consult with a gentleman named John Hunkiar sometime back on the purchase of a home. He was recruited out of the Miami police department where he was in charge of surveillence and controlling the gangs. He assumed the job of chief of security for Leon County schools. The brief time I spoke with him I got the impression that he was a capable and tough cop. I see no other reason to doubt that he is well capable of protecting my grandchildren with the help of many well trained and capable people.
I also think back to a time when I made my living as an executive in the pharmaceuticals business. In 1982, in Chicago, 7 innocent people died after ingesting Tylenol capsules. Tylenol is a trusted brand name for acetominophen (APAP). Millions of people, adults and children , have ingested hundreds of millions of doses for headache, muscle aches and fever over many, many years worldwide.
It was determined that some maniac had decided to substitute potassium cyanide in place of the APAP in several individual boxes of the drug and replaced on market shelves. 7 innocent people lost their lives because of this maniacal and mercenary act. A few years later the same thing happened with the gelatinous form of Tylenol. Three lives were lost from that episode. They never caught, arrested or prosecuted anyone in relation to this crime. They did elevate product tampering to a federal crime making it easier to prosecute anyone caught from then on.
Johnson and Johnson, the manufacturer of Tylenol reacted swiftly and capably. They immediately recalled the product at a cost of $100 million. They seized the day and saved other lives by their action. As a result of that and the reaction of the FDA today we have a tamper resistant seal on every consumer product that you can imagine. The problem was solved swiftly and effectively. There was no emotional argumentation about need to curtail the sale of headache medication. 36 years later more people are swallowing Tylenol than ever before.
Ironically we also see an opiate bill coming out of this recent Florida legislative session that makes it illegal for you to have pain for more than 7 days. The wisdom of the legislators took on this issue with less debate. All focus shifted in the direction of the school shootings. .
There is a plausible and practical solution to making our schools safer. Much like we made our airports safer post 9/11. School marshals alla Sky marshals could be a good approach. Taking politics off the table and emotion off the street we could fix this problem. If Johnson and Johnson made firearms they would solve the problem for us. The manufacturers of firearms, all represented by NRA, are unwilling to step up to the plate.
Do you think it has anything to do with the realm in which these two businesses are active? The pharmaceuticals business is directed towards extending and enhancing life. The gun business is mostly about protecting people from one another to the extent of taking life.
One thing for sure honesty and law abidedness has certainly not been attained by the passing of any bill, law or ordinance at any level so far.