“You have a neck incompatible with dentistry, you should look for a new job”
Those are the words no dentist wants to hear half way through their career, least of all after months of treatment, investigations and referrals. To hear that you’ve reached the end point, that the solution to your problem is to stop working.
It put a spanner in the works, to say the least, I was at a stage where I should have been planning the next 20 yrs of my career, looking forward to growth and development but I suddenly found myself in survival mode.
I am the main earner in our household, I couldn’t just down tools and stop work but pushing on and trying to work as normal wasn’t an option either. I was in pain, I couldn’t maintain a working posture for a full day and even when I thought I could, my body was no longer reliable. I would start the day fine and my neck would suddenly go at 10am, so more patients cancelled short notice. Stress for the practice, stress for the patients and ultimately stress and pressure for me.
I couldn’t sleep. Anyone with neck or back pain will know that finding comfort lying down is difficult, I would lay awake for hours thinking about repeated cancellations and potential complaints. I’d be tired, sore and snapping at my family when I was home. I spent my time obsessing about finding a solution for this seemingly unsolvable problem. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know anyone who knew what to do, I was at a loss.
Financially things weren’t looking great, if I did find something else to do, it wouldn’t happen overnight, time was needed to transition. Coincidentally, I’d been pursuing fitness and personal training as more of a hobby but there was the option to swing my career in that direction within the next year. But still this didn’t fix things now.
After mulling over it, researching everything there was to research, I thought stuff it, I will fix this. It seemed crazy to me that no one had provided this service yet, dentists are so prone to occupational musculoskeletal problems, so many dentists are working in or with pain daily. Medicating to get through the day and doubting how they can maintain this for a full career. I needed to fix this, not just for work but to fully function in an active life. I had a young family to chase round after, my youngest still needed lifting and carrying. Staying broken wasn’t an option.
So, on the back of many physiotherapy appointments I took it upon myself to rehabilitate my neck, shoulder and back in the gym. I took lessons I learnt from sports strength and conditioning coaches, especially those dealing with upper body unilateral sports like baseball. Looking at mobility and flexibility work as well as strengthening. It was hard but the results gradually came and 6 months into it I was fully functional at work again.
We have long careers, doing physically demanding work. If we don’t look after our bodies, they will fail us. It’s not ok to be working in pain and the answer isn’t only surgery, steroid injections or stop work. If you’re having problems and want to discuss them or find out more about topics like this then come find my facebook group Fang Farriers and see what we’re all about.