Letter to my Patients
I cannot believe it has been over 15 years since I graduated from Dental School, my wife Karla, 6-month-old son Orion, and I moved to the Shenandoah Valley and I began practicing dentistry in Virginia. Many of you I have known for all this time and many I have met along the way.
I want to start off by stating this is not a retirement letter, nor do I have a chronic or debilitating disease (at least that I am aware of). I have many years of dentistry ahead (I hope ?). Over these 15 years, I’ve seen us all grow older together: I’ve witnessed 3-year-old patients now go off to college; seen teen patients mature, get married and have children; I’ve watched young adult patients turn grey right along with me; seen many of you celebrate the wedding of your child, share a picture of a new grandchild and begin retirement. I’ve also witnessed too many deal with loss, pain or disease and way too many leave us.
At times, I’ve had to recommend treatment that I know might create a financial burden, but owed it to you to educate you, tell you the honest truth, listen to you, and let you decide. We’ve laughed together a lot, especially given the circumstances of our meetings. I’ve tried to be extremely gentle and as pain-free as possible as I’ve helped you through your treatment.
I am honored that you’ve chosen me to be your dentist and am humbled by your trust in me and my team. I cherish the growth of our friendships in the future and promise to give my heart & soul to help you along your dental journey whatever the situation or outcome.
I’m taking this moment to reflect upon these 15 years and our relationships together due to the situation that has me lying in bed tonight writing you this letter:
Not too long ago, at the ripe old age of 46 I was playing at the park with my twin 4-year-olds, Kaelan and Enakai. Playing, running, jumping, climbing like I also was a 4-year-old. ? By Monday afternoon, I had so much muscle pain in both legs that I’m embarrassed to admit. Muscles were sore as if they hadn’t been used since I was 4 years old. The muscle pain was all but gone by Wednesday evening, but by Thursday, I was having shooting pain down my right leg. I ended up having to cancel some of your appointments Thursday (sorry) and by Friday morning, the pain had intensified to the point that I had my wife, Karla, take me to the emergency room at RMH. The following week consisted of a Monday visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Hess, Wednesday, an MRI, and by Thursday, an epidural steroid injection. I was open to anything to get me back to normal and return to the office for my team and patients.
This time at home (and unfortunately out of the office) has been a time of reflection, of vulnerability, and of appreciation for all that I have. It has been a spiritual reset and a moment of humbling. This week has felt more like a month along with the halfway point of my dental career. 15 years thus far and hopefully 15+ years to go. Having this week off while trying to diagnose and relieve the pain, my wife will say, was too much time for my mind to work and for me to dream of the future of our practice.
The diagnosis was early degeneration with sciatic nerve pain radiating down my right leg. The injection has helped and the Advantage Physical Therapy team has me on the mend.
My 6-month-old baby boy, Orion, is now weeks away from turning 16 years old and I also took this time in bed to begin researching the possibility of helping him purchase his first car. Pinned down in my bed with my laptop and Google (along with the occasional prescribed pain medication) I had thoughts, ideas, and dreams like the 4-year-old boy I thought I was at the park.
Fate would have it that my time spent on Google, looking for a car for my son, helped me cross paths with George, a volunteer fireman from a small coal town in Pennsylvania looking to sell their fire truck. The volunteer fire department had one main fire engine for the last 20+ years which was only driven about 26,000 miles and was taken care of by the firemen as if it was their own antique cars. The firehouse sits on top of a daunting hill, with the firemen known as “the boys on the hill”, and the citizens located in the town below. But the steepness of the hill was a slow struggle for the engine and a concern for the town. Two years of requesting a FEMA grant was recently answered with the arrival of a new truck. Luck would have it that a fire truck replaced by a FEMA grant has to be decommissioned from fire department use and has limited suitors. This created a very low purchase price (well less than half the amount I have paid for TV, radio or direct mail advertising campaigns in the past) and fostered a plan to do good in our community and promote dental health to our friends and neighbors. So, I’ve purchased the Angelopulos Dental fire truck “mascot” with my injury as the source and the truck as the sign… now my path has a plan.
I’m grateful, blessed, and excited to share more laughter and friendships. I promise to always continue to educate myself and my team with the best educators known in dentistry to offer you choices for your dental health. We will do our best to perform whatever you eventually choose to do and respect when you decide to do nothing at all.
I’ve always enjoyed doing things a little different than the norm, with more fun and smiles. This injury and the degenerative diagnosis made me realize there is no better time than the present to invest back into the practice, my patients, and the community. I’m excited to share my ideas with you and to hear your ideas of how to make more people enjoy a healthy smile. My hope is for us all to have more fun, promote better oral health and get out in the community through events. I feel we have a special office with amazing patients and wonderful team members. We are very good at what we do, and I want to share this with more people while attracting more new patients.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am honored to be your dentist and proud to have you as a patient and friend. My team and I look forward to continuing to develop and strengthen our friendships with you and with each new generation. So sit back, relax, share a laugh and a smile, and let us take care of you. Life is too short and moves to fast, let us enjoy it together during the (fire truck) ride. Thank you for the privilege of caring for your dental health!
Christopher G. Angelopulos, DMD