Now what?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Murphy's Law

In high school Carrie and I were in a class called Aquatic Science. It was almost as whimsical as it sounded, and we enjoyed it very much. We have many great stories from that class, however many of them follow a very similar theme: Murphy's Law; or should we say Murphy's Aquarium? Part of the class was to create and maintain an Aquarium. Ours seemed to have a self-sabotage mechanism attached. During the first week of class we were given our aquarium and a location in the classroom in which our aquarium would be kept. Then we got filters, decorations, everything that we would need for an aquarium except for fish, so we all dutifully set up our aquariums. I mean everyone except for Carrie and me dutifully set up their aquariums. We walked over to our assigned space, aquarium already in place, and tried to place the filter on the back. In lieu of it gently sitting on the back, it clunked into the cabinet. It was quickly determined that whoever built the school had decided to not use a level for the science wing and this resulted in slanty cabinets that were maybe an inch too short for our aquarium to have a lovely, easy filter sitting on the back. How Mr. Smith didn't figure this problem out sometime before our class, seeing as how he has taught it forever, is beyond me. But, whatever.

So Mr. Smith pulled out an interesting looking contraption that he happened to have in the back, which was a filter that sat behind the aquarium and was attached to the aquarium by two tubes. Hm, lots of parts and a more complicated setup definitely equals an exponential rise in possible things that could go wrong. Still optimistic we set up our aquarium, went out and bought fish and a few other things that we thought would look pretty. That optimism quickly faded as we had a fungus take up residence in our filter, (especially the tubes. it did not make our water look very nice) the beautiful piece of wood we bought was burned at some point which released poisonous acid into the water, the fish tried to bully/eat each other, and two of our red claw crabs escaped. One was found and returned after trying to climb a freshman girl in one of Mr. Smith's other classes, the other was smushed by a librarian after she "tripped" on him and then "accidently" stepped on him. I'm still impressed that he made it to the other side of the school via his own, stumpy little legs. So we ended up staying after school basically every day trying to fix it, but at least we enjoyed it.

What can go wrong will. I would like to learn a little more about how Murphy's Law came into being. At least in my life it hasn't seemed to take a hold. Horrible "everything goes wrong" moments, days, classes don't seem to happen to me very often, however I am now convinced that technology will bring more of that into not only my life, but everyone else's as well (I'm sure my mom would agree with me there). My dental office is all digital which is a blessing to dentistry, but a curse to not only me, but everyone else who works there because we would be the first to perish if someone held a gun to our heads and told us to fix the computer. So when the server decided to die a lot last Thursday we knew that bad things were going to happen. No server means no XRays, no schedule, no patient phonebook, no patient charts, nothing. How to we see and treat patients if we have no information and no diagnostic tools? By the way, this happened at the end of the first patient of the day's appointment. Then two emergency patients walked in. One of them had half of her face swollen almost double what it would have normally been. We can't figure out what is wrong with them without XRays!

We sent them home and promised to call them when we were back up and running. We limped through a crown procedure and then had our staff meeting lunch. Good lunch, but Dr. Cope was seriously about find a machete and teleport himself to the server company's headquarters and bash some skulls in. I have NEVER seen him mad, except when the computer will not work properly. We finally get that problem fixed and squeeze both emergencies into a tight schedule while seeing everyone else on the schedule. Both emergencies turned out to be extractions, but oh wait, we only have one surgery kit right now. And, oh wait, both had waited so long that the abscess hurt even though every other single thing that could hurt was ridiculously numb. This requires a special syringe that has lots of moving parts which of course got stuck and I saw Dr. Cope bring a wrench into the operatory for the first, and I am almost certain the last, time. We also had to resort to using an instrument from the kit that he really wanted to save for the last emergency, so we took so much longer, and caused them much more pain than was really necessary.

One of our last patients was luckily very jovial, which helped since what would have been a crown turned into a root canal that needed to be performed by a specialist. Luckily we have a temporary filling material that we could patch it with until her appointment, which was this Monday, incidentally. I think this goes to show that any desire to say, "What else could go wrong?" is always a big mistake that you will probably pay for. I think for now it's safe to say that that day was one of the craziest days in dentistry that any of us had ever seen, because we still can't stop shaking our heads and just exist in awe at that set of circumstances.


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