By: Dr Victor M. Sternberg, D.M.D.
January 3, 2021
I would like to take this time to wish you all a very Happy New Year. The meaning of a new year takes on a greater significance as we enter 2021. The year we have left behind will someday be marked in history as one of the darkest we've encountered since World War II.
As casualties continue to mount, and we race to distribute a vaccine, hopefully historians will look back on 2020 and be able to make some sense out of this disaster. Our greatest hope for the new year is that by the time we celebrate 2022's arrival we will be free of COVID-19, as well as the politics of turmoil that permeates our country.
As I write this, approximately 3 million Americans have been vaccinated, far short of what was promised. Let us hope out of this medical and political conundrum will come wisdom. Hopefully we will have learned what not to do the next time a virus knocks on our door.
On a personal level, I am completely recovered from a total joint replacement involving my right shoulder. I am now, for the first time, a bionic dentist! I struggled with pain and discomfort and limitations as the osteoarthritis worsened and I finally decided to replace the joint. Much to my happy surprise I experienced little to no pain post-operatively, from the moment I left the hospital until today. I have a full range of motion and am ready to resume my full time practice. If any of you want the name of the surgeon with a practice that took care of me so magnificently, I would be happy to share.
On a similar note, prior to having the procedure done, my physician suggested I receive a virtual angiogram, as a precaution, to evaluate the health of my coronary arteries. Although I have been an avid exerciser all of my life, I wish to take nothing for granted. Ironically, my son at age 40 underwent a septuple bypass, coming from a family with no history of heart disease.
The virtual angiogram, given with a dye, clearly delineates the health of your coronary arteries at a level that makes it 99% the equivalent of a traditional angiogram which is an invasive procedure. I was more than pleased to find out that I have no evidence of coronary artery disease. This non-invasive procedure way of screening individuals before they have chest pain, heart attacks or fatal outcomes, should become a standard. From my standpoint, it should be similar to having a mammogram, a PSA, or a CAT scan of the lungs of people who have a history of smoking. When I think of the countless people who I have known and who passed away from heart attacks with no evidence on the EKG or any symptoms that there was significant blockage, I cannot implore you enough to consider this as a possibility of a lifesaving , non-invasive procedure.
A side note, not related to the procedures I underwent, but regarding the people who took care of me, I wish to share my recent experience, as we struggle with the issue of immigration in this country. When I entered the radiology department I was met by a delightful young woman who told me she had been born in Portugal and came here 20 years ago as a nurse. The next individual I met was the actual nurse who put my intravenous line into my vein. She was from Peru, here about 15 years. She was followed by a gentleman who put on the cardiac leads. He was from Ghana/Africa. Finally, the individual who provided me with the dye prior to my x-ray , was from Brazil. I must share with you that their attitudes, friendliness and competency was exemplary.
With great irony, of all things I developed a toothache. The nerve under a crown that had been made 10 years ago began to remind me that I am not immune to dental issues. Complicating this was the fact that my artificial shoulder, joint replaced only 20 days prior, could not afford to get infected from a dental infection. I immediately called an endodontist who took me in at 7:30 that night and expeditiously and effectively treated my root canal problem, leaving me without pain or infection. She stayed until 9 pm to make sure everything was done as effectively as possible.
Now let me share with you the national origin of this root canal specialist. She was born in Iran and came here after high school to attend college, dental school and graduate school in New York.
Reflecting back on my dental school career at Tufts University, we were 400 students in the freshmen through senior classes. 397 of us were men, all born in the United States. There were 3 women among the 400 who were sent by the Archdiocese of New York, all nuns, to be trained as dentists, and then go to Africa as missionaries. My has the world changed!
I felt the need to share this personal story given my unique experiences of the last month.
As always, I welcome your feedback and opinions.
Once again a Happy and Healthy New Year to all of us.
Dr. Victor M. Sternberg, D.M.D.
By Westchester Center for Periodontal & Implant Excellence
January 6, 2021