17 August

Thanks To These People, My Implant Is In. And Yes, They Did Make It Fun And (Almost) Painless

by Jon Katz

The Jon Katz physical renovation program, continued today at the Northeast Surgical Specialists in Saratoga Springs. My mouth is being refurbished.

Many people warned me that it would be rough, but it wasn’t rough; it hardly hurt at all (until I got home), and as often happens when I get to the right healthcare place, we had a good time. Maria heard the laughing all the way out in the waiting room.

(Above, my view)

I’ve found that even surgery can be pleasant if my head is on straight. And if the doctors and nurses are honest, empathetic, and have a sense of humor. Life is often ridiculous, and laughing at it softens many hard things. I believe they will be as nice as I am.

I need to feel like a human, not a problem or some data, and I don’t need to feel like an older man who can barely stand up, walk, or laugh. I felt very human at Northeast, treated with respect and listened to.

I appreciate it.

I understand that being a doctor in America in 2023 is never easy. But neither is being patient. I like feeling as if we are in it together, working together, not that I am only to be known only by my blood.

I’ve found that doctors are always involved when it is fun, love what they do, and like people. There is no reason why we can’t laugh. There are enough sour and angry people in the world.

Attitude matters. I get back what I give, and I make it a point never to whine or complain and treat anyone differently than I would like to be treated.

I find that those doctors are open and empathetic to me, and I also attract a staff that picks up on that and makes every interaction personal, caring, and sensitive.

From the first, I was comfortable. I never felt the novacaine; the needle was so thin. I was never uncomfortable. There was no bleeding, no gauze.

Dr. Timothy Kelling sets the tone at this office, and I felt it the minute I walked in. I need to be honest. Having a toe amputated or an implanted screwed into one of the bones in my mouth is not fun and can never be fun.

I trusted him at first sight, and I have no doubt the implant will take hold and prosper.

He gives off the vibe of a competent, knowledgeable doctor who cares about his patients.

When I told him I often take pictures of my doctors and asked permission, he smiled and said, “sure.”

But it can be affirming, comfortable, and something to smile and laugh about. I also set the tone. I don’t feel sorry for myself or throw a lot of attitude and skepticism around. The favor is usually returned.

(Where the implant went.)

The implanting went well. I was dazzled by the hi-tech technology and by Dr. Telling’s confidence and openness – he told me what was happening every minute. The staff kept asking how I was if I was comfortable if I needed anything.

When I said I wanted to take everybody’s picture, they all laughed, smiled, and gracefully gathered for me. You can see the warmth and humor in their eyes. A lot of doctors would say no. Some doctors have.

Once they sensed it was important to me, they went along cheerfully. After the surgery, Dr. Kelling asked me if I could tell which of the two techs and nurses were related to one another. Sure, I said I was a reporter once. I nailed it on the first try.

That was the laughter Maria heard out in the waiting room.

I’ve often written that I am only really comfortable with female doctors.

Almost all of my doctors are women. Dr. Kelling is an exception and a happy and inspiring one. It’s never too smart to generalize.

Most male doctors I’ve seen practically jump out of their shoes when they’ve finished sharing the data and might have to talk with me. They can’t do it.

Dr. Kelling went out into the waiting room to introduce himself to Maria; the two joked about whether or not I do what I was told. Fortunately, Maria told the truth. “Is that what he told you?” she said, laughing.

( Dr. Kelling.

They said I could drive myself home – the only sedation was novacaine – but I’m glad Maria didn’t let me. I was exhausted and dizzy and fell asleep the second I got home. There was some pain; Tylenol helped, and the pain began declining.

It was never very bad.

My renovation program is so far successful. I’ve got a re-imagined foot, terrific braces, my kidney stone is in bits, and in a few months, my mouth will be back in order.

I asked  Dr. Telling if it would ever be possible to put an implant in the other hole in the mouth (I surprised myself by asking), and he said, sure, let’s see how this one settles in, and we’ll take a look.

I doubt that I will embrace another $4,000 project, not for a long time,  if ever, but the question alone told me how comfortable I was with these people and how much I trusted them.

The odd thing is that I felt good getting that implant started. I felt good because I made them feel good, and they made me feel good.

My idea about the crisis of humanity tearing the country apart is that we must learn how to treat one another gently and well. That’s what happened today. It really does feel good, even in dental surgery.


  1. Attitude. Good or bad. That’s what matters. Your good attitude makes everything go better. You feel better. The Drs are more relaxed. Everyone there is more comfortable. Your good attitude sets the stage for the whole procedure. I’m sure that all involved truly appreciate it.

  2. You’re a champ Jon. Man how I love reading about your daily exploits.
    I hope you live to be a hundred.

  3. You’re the best Jon! I so love reading about your daily adventures as I sip my bourbon & pet my weenie dog Oscar.
    Oscar can’t read but he likes it when I explain it to him. He sends his love to all of you. Especially to Bud, Fate & Zinnia. Him & Bud would really get along. Teaming up on helpless chipmunks. (He’s killed two mice within the past month.) He thinks nothing of it. It’s just his job.

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