It was almost three years ago and my wife and I had just brought or new baby boy, Brady, home from the hospital. As all of you parents out there know, bringing a new baby home is a time of elation, anxiety and exhaustion!
In the middle of the night on his third day at home my wife had just finished feeding him and laid him between us in bed.
I rolled over awkwardly to grab the baby and felt something “pop”. An immediate sensation of firey pain shot down from the middle of my waist to my ankle. I didn’t know it at the time, but the pain was going to escalate to an unbearable level over the next several months.
As luck would have it, one of my closest friends is a back surgeon here in Prescott. The next day I was laying flat on my back in an MRI machine.
The results came back and were not good. The MRI revealed a massive herniation of my disc at L5/S1, probably as a result of continuous collisions that I took during my college football days.
Attempting to avoid surgery, I tried chiropractic, physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and cortisone shots. Not only were these modalities not working, the pain was getting worse with each passing day. As the weeks passed, I could no longer drive myself to work, and I was only getting a few restless hours of sleep each night.
Since I could no longer sit in the operator’s stool, I was forced to practice dentistry standing up and in a great deal of pain. The practices and my dental income took a big hit as I shortened my hours.
I called my insurance carrier and found out that my disability insurance wouldn’t kick in until I was working for less than twenty percent of my normal schedule for three consecutive months. My agent told me that I basically had to completely stop working for three months before the insurance company would pay a dime.
About the time all of this was happening, I had a new dental assistant school session starting. I usually save the majority of the money that we generate from the school to fund my retirement accounts and the college funds for my kids, but in this case, we used the income from the school to pay for our monthly bills.
The day of surgery finally came after almost four months of non-stop pain. It was a comfort that one of my best friends was performing the surgery. I prepared myself for the possibility that my dental career might be over if the nerve damage was too severe and the surgery was unsuccessful.
The first sensation that I experienced when I awoke following surgery was complete lack of pain. I didn’t want to get too excited because there was still local anesthesia in the area that could have been masking the pain that I felt preoperatively.
As the affects of the anesthesia wore off the pain did not return. I returned to work just four days later.
The income and savings from my dental assisting school supported my entire family until I got back on my feet.
Of all of the trips, material items and extra money that my dental assisting school has allowed me to obtain, none have been more valuable than the peace of mind that my second stream of income provided me and my family during a true time of crisis.
Mark Costes, DDS