The Case of the X-Ray and the Analogy

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Recently, like two weeks ago, my beautiful and amazing CBCT (fancy X-ray system) basically went on the fritz and died. Multiple technicians showed up at my office saying they could fix the problem and bring life back to my machine, but alas, it has remained broken all this time. Technician after technician has shown up, told me they could fix it, and yet they gave up after several days. They had packages galore show up with parts for replacement and one technician even said he had basically rebuilt the entire machine!

As frustrations grew and more and more of my patients were being delayed on their X-rays, tempers flared. Both my patients and I were not happy that the treatment was being delayed. The X-ray company even offered to refund me the entire cost of the machine! But all was not lost. A new guy showed up out of the blue ( I use that term only because it sounds cool and mysterious at the same time) and within two hours he literally fixed the machine, and it now works. All of this because we finally got the right person for the job. We got the guy who knew what the problem was and how to make it right!

And now the analogy, if I may. Every day of the week I meet new people (patients, if you will) who have been through multiple doctors and done all sorts of treatment for their TMJ problems. They report going through PT, Chiropractic, ENT, dentists, Gastro, PCPs, etc, etc, etc. Did I say etc. enough? You get the picture; they’ve been  all over town. The analogy to this X-ray technician is that when patients finally land at my office, their symptoms are quite severe in many cases, yet the diagnosis is actually quite simple! It just takes the right person to know how to spot the problem. I don’t mean to brag about this, but I do feel like when someone comes to my office that they have come to the right place.

Every day of the week I meet someone new, listen to their symptoms, hear their story and how long the problems have been there. Most of the time it takes a few seconds to figure out the source of their problem – displaced discs in the jaw joints, or asymmetry of the skull, or even malalignment and compression of the cervical spine. It’s really not that hard to figure out what is going on and of course I get an MRI  to confirm the diagnosis.

The hard part of what we do at my office is explaining the problem to the person and setting their expectations accordingly. In so many cases, I meet a person and can figure out how bad the jaw joints are and then the expectation is for a quick fix! It’s never that easy. And to make it even more difficult, if insurance does not pay for their treatment, because either the carrier only covers surgery or not at all, the patient is oftentimes more adamant that they expect it to be fixed quickly! So, although I have many of the answers they might be looking for, managing a patient’s expectations can indeed be difficult.

And now as this long day comes to an end, I sit back and smile knowing that my X-ray machine is working once again because of a smart technician and my office is humming along well and helping people get better. This is what makes us feel good at the end of the day – we helped our patient!