Finding Perspective; Billy Joel in New Orleans

Jason Tierney writes about moving in the right direction after COVID-19, and how telemedicine will continue to propel the field forward.

I’m writing this from New Orleans, one of our nation’s most lively, energetic, and resilient cities. I also spent time here back in early March 2020 B.C. (Before COVID). I was here a few months ago in October of 2020, too.

Jason Tierney

It’s different now. That’s for sure. There are obvious physical signs such as masks and the omnipresent notices on doors as if anyone needed reminders about social distancing and safety mandates. There’s other evidence as well. The crowds are a tiny fraction of what they once were, and restaurant capacity is severely limited with tables staggered every 4 sidewalk squares or so.

Also, no one is throwing beads from balconies, but if they did, they’d likely chant, “Show your face, show your face!” Uninhibited bachelorette party revelers could then briefly lower their N95s. See, New Orleans IS for families.

How do I know this? Because I see it when I go for daily runs in a mask through a changing landscape of partially drunk, mostly clothed, fully masked revelers.

Listen, it’s different. It is. But it’s moving in the right direction. Not only is the city looking more like itself, but it’s looking like an adaptive, evolving better version of its B.C self. Bars are constructing curbside open-air structures thanks to expedited regulatory approval from a city government that’s known for its graft-addled morass.

Minus the graft, beads, and beer, I posit your practice is similar. Sure, you have to place increased emphasis on protective gear. Is that a bad thing? Your patient doesn’t have to drive 90 minutes for an appliance check and you get to do a consultation from home in a sweater and sweatpants. It could be worse, right?

Note that I said, “get to” rather than “have to.” It’s perspective, my friends. You can’t control the restaurant opening guidelines that seem to be in a perpetual state of flux or the EEOC’s confounding guidance about bringing employees back. Those are exogenous factors.

Perspective – how you THINK of this situation is the only thing over which you truly have agency, and there your authority is complete. You can’t control the virus, the openings, or the political climate any more than you can change the weather. What you can alter is how you think of it and what right action you take.

Is this an opportunity where you get to do telemedicine or have to? Soon enough you’ll complain about the commute to the office.

Is it a chance to spend more time with your family since you aren’t working 53 hours per week? In the near future, time will be a scarce resource again and you’ll wonder how your kids got so big so fast.

The losses of life and revenue have been monumental. Fortunately, vaccines are becoming more readily available. Dental consumer confidence is high. We are in a better position than we were yesterday.

Things will continue to change, but one thing is a constant truism; Sleep is necessary for life. It isn’t a choice. It’s not just a requirement for a life well lived. Without it, you will die. You can help people sleep. You can save lives. Sleep on that and get to work.

Telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, focused marketing, improved appliance designs, and expedited regulatory approvals – these are just a few developments that rose to prominence due to COVID and will continue to propel the field forward. Leverage them and ride the wave.

Don’t long for the way it was. It may have been good. It wasn’t great. To quote my favorite troubadour Billy Joel, “The good ol’ days weren’t always so good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.” Don’t just rebuild. Build anew. You can do this. You are doing this. Now.

Jason Tierney also discusses telemedicine in this column, “Tragedy into Triumph.” Read about it here at:

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