It’s almost Thanksgiving, which always puts me in the mode of gratitude.
If you have attended any one of my lectures, you probably know this story. Even so, I’m going to tell it again.
If you want to see the video version, I put it here as well.
I learned about sleep apnea early in my career. I did a GPR the year after dental school and then opened my first practice week one after my residency was finished. Three days into my dental career, my first patient with sleep apnea walked into my practice.
My entire knowledge about sleep apnea came from a weekend course taught by Dr. Keith Thornton, inventor of the Tap appliance.
So in walks a patient in need of an oral appliance. This patient was not your typical oral appliance patient. She was in her 30s, with an athletic build. She looked “normal.” In fact, the only clue you would have had that she had sleep apnea was the huge bags under her eyes.
Being that this was my first patient experience, I had no clue what to do, so I looked up my old notes and gave the patient a speech that I had memorized from the course. I then took her impressions and bite registration and sent them to the lab.
Two weeks later I inserted her appliance. Two weeks later, my life was changed forever.
Because when she cam in for her next appointment (two weeks after her appliance insert), she came in and greeted me with a hug. She said “I have no clue how to thank you and I certainly cannot repay you. I promise you just changed my life.” The bags were gone from her eyes because she was actually sleeping again for the first time in years.
Now of course she did not have to repay me as I received a $3,500 check from her insurance company. It was a profit of over 1000% in exchange for changing someone’s life. Everyone won.
I have never forgotten the feeling of that hug. It literally spurred me on to go after this industry with a vigor that I could not have imagined.
Since that day, our companies have been responsible for the diagnosis and treatment of thousands of patients.
But to that first patient, I say “thank you” for the hug that literally changed my life.