My good friend richard told me that story and like and story really i found some life lessons in it that are valid. well richard had been having trouble with his jaw for over a decade. it was clicking, grinding and caused discomfort when chewing. Richard approach to his problem was a common one, socially amongst us man – he ignored it. well, things did not get better; in fact they’ve gotten to the point he could no longer eat crusty white Italian bread, let alone enjoy a steak as he does, still Richard took no action. But then one day, his jaw locked open, he needed to wiggle it wider open till he heard a spine chilling crunch only then he could close it properly. His do nothing tactic proven ineffective, he decided to take action.

Like a steam train that has taken a long time to get going, he was now finally rolling towards finding a solution. being the renaissance man he is; and one of the best online marketing independent consultant i know, he researched the problem online and self diagnosed it has TMJ (). Being a thorough type of fellow his examination of his conditioned deepened and he had decided he had a slipped piece of cartilage in his jaw because of a football injury he could recall from high school. he further concluded that the treatment would require a dangerous and complex surgery. Next step was to find the right dentist surgeon for to perform the gig. Again he researched online amongst lots of different dentists who specialized in this condition, he read reviews and testimonials then narrowed down on one.

Dr. Alpert proved indeed an excellent choice. he did all sorts of tests on Richard’s jaw, checked movement, stability, soundness… Surprisingly the jaw itself came up looking as close to perfect as a 43 year old jaw could be. Yet it was obviously not working properly, with the jaw muscles pulling the right jaw out of place making it click and crunch. To richard’s bewilderment the doctor asked him to get out of the chair and stand against the wall. ‘Mmmm’ said the doctor, ‘you know, you tilt your head to the left all the time’. Did you notice that? Now lets take a good look at you.”

Standing up straight against the wall Richard he has chose the wrong doctor, as the dentist was examining not his teeth but instead pulling on his legs and tapping on his spine. Well Dr. Alpert wasn’t your ordinary dentist all right. Turns out, Richard has one leg 2 inches shorter the other and a slight scoliosis; resulting with one shoulders sitting almost 3 inches below the other one. This pull causes him to tilt his head to the left as his body seeks to compensate the imbalance; which in its turn causes the muscles on the right side of his head to be misaligned further causing click and clung and grind and strife in the jaw.

His actual self-diagnosis destroyed proved to Richard that playing internet doctor is not always as good as seeing… well. An actual doctor. The good news were he didn’t need expensive and dangerous jaw surgery; all he needed was a lift put in his right shoe. Dr. Alpert billed him for the examination and told him to return after seeing an orthopedic specialist.  6 weeks later Richard was back at the dentist, jaw clicking almost gone, the remaining issue resolved with a night splint in 4 weeks and he was chewing again on his steak no problems at all. 

Well, here’s to Dr. Alpert, a man of professional integrity and great curiosity. An open minded man that is not narrowing his responsibility only to his field of specialty as so many professional do, but rather takes the holistic approach of seeing the patient as a whole no a hole. Dr. Alpert was able to to look at the bigger picture?  This is not a prevalent trait at all; quite the contrary it is our narrow and limited knowledge that turns us ignorant, blind to see the big picture and other possible perspectives. We hold on to our limited perspective and ware it as lenses seeing the world only through them.But dentist that sees only teeth, not legs and spine is just a metaphor. It is our societies that look at the world from their narrow cultural narratives, not truly examining possible other sides of the story. It is our religions blinded by our belief system, promising us sole redemption while making all others infidels that are walking the sure path to hell. We segmented the world, dissected it and convinced ourselves it is indeed made of small pieces, each separated and isolated and absorbed in self interest failing to see the big picture; a planetary society that is interdependent. When a problem rises, adamant we try to fix the jaw rather than examine the true source of the problem. Well here’s to Dr. Alpert!