Specialist Dental Group has launched an on-going series of blog posts by our individual dental specialists. All views provided are the dentist’s own opinions and are posted on this blog as part of our on-going efforts to educate the public about dental issues and other matters of interest relating to dentistry and healthcare.
I recently received a thank you card from the husband and adult daughter of one of my patients. As dentists, it always makes our day whenever we receive a gesture of appreciation from our patients, whether it be verbal, written, or sometimes in the form of tokens of thanks. It is these forms of positive feedback that encourage us to keep doing our best for our patients – so that they can see a real difference in their quality of life after receiving dental treatment.
This particular card touched me for two reasons:
- Firstly, when the card was dropped off at our clinic, the patient’s family updated me on the sad news that my patient had passed away a week earlier after a serious bout of pneumonia.
- Secondly, I was impressed that despite their recent bereavement, the patient’s family managed to find time and effort to write a thank you card to the dentist… and also to personally drop by to update the clinic on the recent development. Not many people would have done this. Their thoughtfulness really stood out.
I remember this patient vividly. She was referred to me by a dental school classmate for denture treatment. At the initial consultation, she was on a wheelchair. Her lips trembled and her speech was slurred and incoherent due to a stroke. The patient also had other health problems and was taking a long list of medications. She was unable to eat properly due to lack of teeth. An upper complete denture was immediately made for her.
At the first review visit, even though she had minor problems coping with the denture, I was amazed to see the drastic change in her demeanor. She appeared happier, and was more animated and talkative. She constantly commented that she was happy to look good again, never mind the slight problems in eating. I could see the relief and joy in her husband and daughter’s eyes. It was indeed touching to see such solidarity and bonding of this family.
As a primary caregiver to my grandmother who had previously suffered a stroke, I understood the challenges in caring for an elderly family member with health problems. This patient’s husband and daughter never griped and never complained. Instead, they gave their all towards the well-being of the patient. When I was running late in my schedule, all three of them would patiently and cheerfully wait for their turn to see me.
When I was a little stunned by the news, the patient’s husband and daughter also reassured me, saying that up until the final moments, the patient could still remember me, and that I was able to make her look good and eat well again. In the words of her daughter, “We should feel happy, because mummy is definitely in a better place, and she would be much happier”.
I would like to express my condolences to the patient’s family and say that I feel honoured that I had an opportunity to see this patient and play a small part in making her final days easier to bear. Your thoughtfulness and graciousness has touched me. Thank you …
Dr Elvin Leong is a Prosthodontist with Specialist Dental Group. He is currently the President of the Prosthodontics Society (Singapore) and has published in scientific journals in Singapore and internationally. He has a special interest in crowns, implants and cosmetic dentistry. For more information on Dr Leong, click here.