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76 – Just Checking In

Hi there. This is the Perio Patient Podcast, a podcast for my patients and anyone else who cares to listen. My name is Dr. Ben Young and I am a periodontist living and working in the beautiful city of San Antonio, in the great state of Texas.  

Today’s podcast is coming at the late end of August 2021.  

In many ways, as a Nation, we have returned to 9/11 as we watch disastrous events unfolding in Afghanistan – and it isn’t over. We, in fact, don’t know really when and how this nightmare moment will end, but it will. Disasters have their times and then things change. I’m not saying this as a way of comfort but more like a fact of life.  

I had a patient recently who had pain and swelling after a procedure – that that is associated with pain and swelling. In this particular case, there was something else going on that eventually and fortunately came to light. It had to do with the way he was thinking about things. Probably due to past experiences of a similar nature, he had come to believe that this event was much worse and that, in fact, it was never going to end, that it was going to be a permanent situation going forward. And behind this, was a concern about cancer – that the pain that I was seeing as more or less normal post-surgical events, was actually the beginning of cancer. And he had dealt with cancer in the past. For this reason, perhaps, he thought we were susceptible or prone to this being the most logical outcome. I do not know. What I was able to tell him, however, after his second follow-up visit with concerns, was that this was not cancer and that it would feel different in one week – hopefully it would be different in a positive way. Now I am not a prophet and I cannot predict the future – so I cannot with certainty tell anyone what will absolutely happen tomorrow or a week from now – but I can go back into my own experience in life to know that nothing remains the same. There has been no injury or illness I have experienced that just stayed the same. Even chronic conditions can and should be addressed and worked through. There are people, and you may be one, who suffer from chronic pain. However, isn’t it still true that you have good days and you have bad days? And if this is the case, then the objective should be – and this is true for all of us – to have as many good days as we can – and if a day is too long, then good moments and good experiences.  

So, to be honest with you, I am stunned and saddened by what I am seeing and hearing coming from Afghanistan – but I am also reminded that this is but one place in the world where there is suffering. There is suffering closer to home and there is suffering I know nothing about, but may learn about later. What can you and I do about any of this?  

Let me give three, more or less obvious, useful (at least for us) things we can do. 

The first is to pray. I’m not even talking about believing in God at this point. Let’s say you don’t believe in God, but you are sad. Is your sadness capable of improving the problems you are sad about? Is your sadness useful? I guess that is my question. If the answer is that your sadness is not particularly useful for those on the other side of the world who are suffering, then what is wrong with the idea of directing this sadness to someone or something outside yourself? If God exists (and I personally believe he does) then expressing your sadness can also come with a request that he intervene – and because you and I are not God, we need to leave it there – we are in no position to tell God what to do.  

The second thing is to talk. Sadness can be expressed and in times like this, because others are sharing similar feelings, talking is very therapeutic. 

Finally, do whatever you can do within your circumstances. This may be just praying, but it may also involve giving – either your time, your money, or both toward good causes that help others.  

One last thing. I know I have gone over the three, but this really is about all of it in general. Be grateful for what is good in your life and the lives of others. Gratitude is powerful and therapeutic.  

This has been The Perio Patient Podcast and I am still Dr. Ben Young. Thanks for listening. Bye for now.