Editorial: Of Boomers and Business and Being

Editorial: Of Boomers and Business and Being

William E. Stein, D.D.S.*:

I love the cartoons in the New Yorker. A recent Paul Noth cartoon showed two dogs scrutinizing a cat proudly retrieving a stick for her master. One dog remarks, “It is not done well,  but one is surprised to find it is done at all.” I was struck by the profundity of this observation. It could apply to many situations in dentistry and life in general, but it certainly  applies to our recent fi shing misadventures in Alaska. As novice salmon and halibut anglers, Terry and I managed to catch one silver salmon, a baby codfish, four puny sand sharks,  and a seagull! All but the salmon were safely released; the salmon was delicious. Actually, Terry caught all the critters - my fish all wrapped themselves around trees and rocks.
 
The weather was beautiful, and we were amazed at the splendor of Alaska. Our guides, Jim and Rita Kirzeder, old friends and Haiti veterans, showed us around from Anchorage to the  picturesque town of Homer: “A quaint drinking village with a serious fishing problem.”  We stayed in the bed and breakfast home of Jim and Sharon, old friends and patients who  made the move north to the town of Ninilchik. Their digs are named “Volcano View”, and with good reason: We could see three volcanoes from our porch, all of which belched steam  while we were there. If there is a massive eruption in the near future, you heard it here first. Contrary to Tina Fey’s mockery of Sara Palin, we could not see Russia from our porch,  but we could see a beautiful Russian Orthodox Church high on a cliff overlooking the inlet. 
 
We did manage a visit just north of Sara’s home town of Wasilla, with Dr. Kelly Maixner and his wife Margaret and their two young children. Some readers may recall that Terry and I  worked with Kelly and Margaret in Haiti. Kelly runs the Iditarod sled dog race. He hitched up a team of 11 of his 38 dogs to take us on a training run. It was heart wrenching to see how all the dogs begged to be picked; I will never forget the forgotten pup who howled mournfully as we left.
 
The team pulled five of us in Kelly’s unpowered ATV through the woods, more than 1,600 pounds of people and machine! A great salmon dinner followed. I could get used to Alaska. A  majority of the people who move to Alaska are from Minnesota. The summers would be okay, but the winters not so much… It was good to be home … for all of five days, and then  we were off to Canada for our annual fishing trip, where we caught more fish in the first half hour than we did in all of our Alaska trip. Once again the weather was glorious, and my  Ojibwa “brother” Rob kept us in fish and delicious shore lunches.
 
As you can see, it is good to be a “Baby Boomer” and finally have more leisure time to explore the world. Baby Boomers also have more time and resources with which to seek dental  care. In our cover feature this issue, Drs. Steve Shuman and Mary Owen from the U of M’s Geriatric Dentistry Department address the needs of this population.
 
Speaking of Baby  Boomers, we have two great articles written by Boomers: Drs. Thom Rumreich and Kim Harms.
 
Thom presents us with a humorous and sometimes poignant reminiscence of the adventures and misadventures of 30 years as a dentist, pediatric dentist, forensic dentist, and  medical examiner. 
 
Kim Harms continues her good works with a piece on building trust with our patients. Trust is something we all need to contemplate and cultivate. 
 
A friend from the “Greatest Generation” recently passed this e-mail on to me:
 
“And so ... now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never  did! But, at least I know that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last ... this I know, that when it’s over on this earth ... it’s over. A new adventure will  begin! 
 
Consider the following: Today is the oldest you’ve ever been Yet the youngest you’ll ever be, so — enjoy this day while it lasts. 
 
Your kids are becoming you … but your grandchildren are perfect!
 
Going out is good. Coming home is better!
 
You forget names … but it’s okay because other people forgot they even knew you! 
 
You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything — especially golf. 
 
The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.
 
You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”. 
 
You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch.
 
You tend to use more four-letter words: “What?” “When?”
 
Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.
 
You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”! 
 
What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
 
Everybody whispers.
 
You have three sizes of clothes in your closet — two of which you will never wear.”
 
Good luck and good reading. Age well and fearlessly!
 
 
*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minnesota, AitkinDent@AOL.com