One of last week’s podcasts that we recorded (which will be out sometime later) was on the subject of health in dentistry.
Not the health of patients, but the health of dentists and the problems that we encounter and perhaps some of the reasons why.
It’s obvious to most of us that dentistry in general is a particularly unhealthy profession and we find ourselves in a place where, in order to continue to make a living, we’re often asking ourselves to sacrifice aspects of our health.
We’re trapped in a box, often with terrible levels of light which is artificial and depressing. We’re under significant psychological pressure of time and also emotional pressure from the emotional energy we have to take to make decisions rapidly and quickly on a day to day basis.
We suffer complaints and unrealistic expectations in many directions and we have financial pressures associated with us.
We work at home, sometimes late into the night and at weekends either clinically or administratively or both.
All of this to maintain a ‘standard of living’.
Difficult to maintain a standard of living if you’re not actually living.
In the discussions with Shaun and I (and these are entirely unrehearsed) we were able to openly and honestly chat to each other about various mental health issues we’d found related to ourselves and stuff that had happened.
It’s quite close to the bone and a bit brutally honest, but I think quite representative of what a lot of people feel.
The funny thing is (and we discussed this in the podcast) is that although we were already aware that cardiac and physical health influenced mental health, until recently we were less aware that poor mental health has a significant impact on physical health.
The other thing is what we do physically, and even the little things in surgery or work to try and make us more mobile, more flexible and just offset the damage that we do of trying to make a living curled up in a box all day.
The final thing though, which was a bit of a revelation in the discussion, was the fact that, of course, we don’t have to work 10 sessions seeing patients.
This was one of the big revelations that came to me back in the early 2000’s when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was heading towards being quite overweight and stressed out to high heaven.
I realised that the funny thing is that if you work half the clinical time, you don’t really make half the money (you’re always able to work a bit better because you’re working a bit less) but even if you did it’s better than winding up in a bad physical state.
I hope we’ll go on to discuss more about these subjects and we recommended a few books in the podcast that people might like to look at.
While there’s not really much evidence that self-help books actually provide much self-help, there is much information out there to help you develop your own system to help look after yourself.
I remember a story from one of my best ever referring practitioners who is quite long retired now, as we were chatting about his imminent retirement.
He was in his second marriage so, in his words, was ‘a bit more broke than he thought he’d be’ when he got to this stage. His marriage had ended quite acrimoniously to the point where his wife had tried to run him over and put him over the bonnet of her car.
In the end, and this was some years later, his health was starting to deteriorate quite badly while he was still working and he developed diabetes, and I think had a mild heart attack in his early 60’s. He had gone to his new partner (who was encouraging him to stop and retire) and said to her “I need to work for a bit longer, just to save a bit more money”
His partner (who I have never met but who seems like a very intelligent woman) had replied “better to run out of money than to run out of health”
Perhaps if we start with that philosophy rather than the other way around then we might be in a better position.
As always, the podcast and also this blog is not directed at you… it’s directed at me.
I have an unwavering ability of f****ng up when I’m getting things just about right and pushing the train right off the tracks again. I continue to try to correct that affliction and to try to find information and evidence and tips and tricks to make me better and healthier and stronger and more content. It’s not easy but I don’t think it’s easy for anyone else either.
It’s a work in progress.
Blog Post Number: 1846