Dr. William Prusin used to work with me rather often when I was practicing dentistry in Toronto. Dr. Prusin was very kind to me and he is a very experienced USA-trained oral surgeon. He once told me, “Ansgar, there is no simple procedure.” I thought to myself, it was unusual for an experienced surgeon to make such a statement. He went on to say, “The only simple procedure is the one that was done, and yield no unexpected outcomes’. In other words, he was saying the ‘simplicity’ of a procedure is only a hindsight. I took his words deep into my heart. I am forever grateful to him for such wise advice. I was much younger then and now that I have more than a quarter century of practice in clinical dentistry, I understand that there simply are factors beyond our control or norm sometimes.
This past few days, Singapore was the host for the 19th Asia Masters Athletic Championships. I was honoured to get the opportunity to represent Singapore in my first regional masters athletics meet and participated in the 5000m event in the male 50 age group and was lucky to get a gold medal, achieving a personal best time for event. The journey was more interesting than simply putting in a lot of mileage of running and training.
I enjoy the company of my colleagues at work, may it be at the National University of Singapore (NUS) or at Specialist Dental Group. I love them. The days before a competition, we are supposed to do training, stretching, strategizing and visualization, which I am familiar with since I was a school boy. This time though, I was very distracted.
My family has been doing well – my little gals are behaving academically and extra-curricularly, my wife is as good as can be and as pretty as can be. However, the work front was a little challenging though.
On the university front, we were dealing with an ‘interesting’ cancer case from overseas. Well, ‘interesting’ because there were some unexpected outcomes from the first treatment and the catch was that my team of residents and myself had never been involved with the case before. The next phase of treatment, as expected, involved a variety of new variables but no doubt, half of the upper jaw would be more or less gone. The key for such treatment is to have the team work together and time is of the essence!! This involves work flow coordination, providing guidance to my resident(s), and actual fabrication of the surgical prosthesis. The big day of the case was two days before the 5000m run.
At the same time, on the Specialist Dental Group front, I was taking care of a patient with a once-in-a-blue-moon type of unusual clinical outcome too. Well, I am not ‘shy’ to disclose it as it is factual and after over 2.5 decades working in the specialty, new challenges still show up from time to time.
New challenges simply do not care how many professional qualifications I have and how long I have been given that ‘Prof’ title by NUS. One huge advantage I have is that we have a big team of great specialist colleagues and this time Dr. Ho Kok-Sen lent his healing hand. However, even with that, I was checking on the phone on an hourly basis (day & night) as I had promised to keep an eye on the patient. As clinicians, many do not realize that such commitment is our unwritten pledge to our patients.
This phone checking, patient monitoring process was carried out all the way until the moment (may be two minutes) before my 5000m started. To be honest, at the start, I was only thinking about how my patient was doing, the 5000m was actually a distraction to me…(to be continued)