Archive for 2007

Summer 2007

Here’s an update on life and the prospects for the coming year:

Last year I became the stunningly beautiful, pregnant woman poring over materials engineering textbooks that I set out to become. I made it to the end of school just in time before our son was born. The next phase is to start our businesses and begin to raise the little guy.

Sara, my sister now pregnant with twins, has started a Professional Voice Lessons & Singing Performances business in Quincy, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, I am about to launch Quantum Tutoring, a tutoring business specializing in teaching science and math to high school and college students in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois. We also intend to start a business together with the help of our husbands, but we still can’t let you in on the secret of that one just yet.

I am the only one out of school. Sara and her husband are finishing up their undergraduate degrees in Vocal Performance/Education and Literature, respectively, and my husband, Scott will start his masters in Electrical Engineering. So while those guys are finishing their education, I get to do most of the business-related work.

So what do two engineers, a literature guy and a singer know about business? Well, we know more than when we started last year. This blog will continue to document the discoveries we have made and the sources that have helped us to get this far.

See how far we’ve come:
About Us Summer 2006

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Dentist – Week 3

My day had not been going that great anyway, and I wasn’t really looking forward to going to the dentist for the third week in a row. Things started out looking brighter though. We only waited a few minutes until Scott was called in for x-rays. Shortly after, they called me in to start my cleaning. The dental hygienist looked at the chart, noticed I was pregnant, and I informed her of the letter. She read it, checked with her supervisor, and came back. She said they’d do a cleaning, but no x-rays unless I actually had a toothache. It had been too long since I had full x-rays done, so I asked why. “It’s not good for the baby,” she says. “Are you crazy! It’s not even a miniscule amount of tiny light particles hitting me in the head, you’re going to put two shields on me, so that’s a bunch of lead protecting a baby that could easily withstand a full dose of x-rays coming right towards it!” Okay, I didn’t say that, I just gritted my teeth and let her do a cleaning. She was also worried about bacteria getting in through my gums to hurt the baby, which frustrated me more.

So I really wanted some x-rays done, so I told her about a small spot that had been hurting. Really it only hurt once every couple of months, but it was an excuse. This time a different technician who was the most pleasant person there puts not two, but three shields on me. One shield was actually two in one, and he had the first on already, so he just went with it. Okay lovely 0.9 mm of lead protection. He takes the two x-rays and the doctor checks them out. Turned out that the small spot was really a giant cavity forming under an existing filling, which meant I needed a root canal done by a specialist. “Oh great a root canal. I’m glad they found that, seeing as how they were so willing to ensure that I get proper dental care. Stupid legal system making people afraid to get sued, so they won’t take an x-ray of a pregnant woman.”

I had relaxed somewhat, but told the dentist that it had been a while since my last x-rays, and if I have something as bad as a root canal that isn’t causing me pain at all, maybe I should have the other teeth checked. After some prodding, he sends me back to the technician, only not the nice one this time, and she puts two shields on me. Then nice techinician walks by and doesn’t notice that I have two shields on, thinks I have just one and grabs the two-in-one shield from before…so now I’ve got four shields. He jokes about it though and realizes it was a mistake, so it was just funny. So the lady takes a few more x-rays, trying to get more teeth in each one, so as to take fewer. I wait another 10 minutes so they can develop, and the dentist notices something that worries him. He sends me back for two more x-rays! Nice x-ray guy says they should have just taken the full set in the first place…seriously. Ten minutes for developing and the dentist decides that I have another root canal and a deep cavity that will probably end up being a root canal too! Man! I have to have three root canals, and they never would have known, because my teeth don’t hurt at all and they didn’t want to x-ray me!

I’m not sure if you can actually do root canals while pregnant. That’s starting to get a little serious, so now I do feel like I should talk to my doctor and find out if I should wait.

Lesson:

Get x-rays done as often as possible to be sure nothing is wrong. I brush and floss everyday like recommended, but have always had bad luck with my teeth. I guess it’s genetic or something.

When pregnant, talk to your doctor to make sure there is no problem with you having dental x-rays, cleaning and minor work like fillings. Then go to the dentist before you’re starting to show that you’re pregnant and never mention pregnant, baby, expecting or anything to anyone! Get the work done that your doctor approved for you, then ask him about more. I guess it would be a good idea to have a husband or friend present during your dental treatment. Then if there was an emergency he or she could tell the dentist that you are in fact pregnant.

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Dentist – Week 2

I called the 800 number to make an appointment, the receptionist made an appointment and she said she’d call back when she’d confirmed it with the local office. Two hours later I hadn’t received her call, so I called the 800 number receptionist again, and she said the local office never called her back. While I was on the line, she called the local office, said they had already confirmed me, but no one called her back. Now, how is the customer supposed to know that the appointment was confirmed if the local office calls neither the customer directly nor the 800 number lady so she can call the customer?

I show up again, this time with my husband, sign their sign-in sheet, and begin waiting. This is not a busy place mind you. There’s really no activity going on at all, no one else waiting there, no one in talking to the dentist, nothing. An hour later, after I’ve had my IQ lowered 50 points by daytime television, they call me in to start x-rays. Now there’s a reason I filled out the questionnaire the previous week. It was so someone could look at my medical history, ensure that everything was in order and know how to treat me. The receptionist wasn’t doing anything at the time, she could have glanced at it, seen that it says I’m pregnant, and check for the fax or ask me about it. Or the x-ray technician should look at it to see if there was some reason she shouldn’t x-ray me…like maybe because I was pregnant.

Anyway, they had mentioned something stupid about using two shields for x-raying pregnant women, so I ask the technician about this. She says, “Oh you’re pregnant, we can’t x-ray you!” “I know, that’s why my doctor faxed you a letter saying you could.” “It’s not here. We can’t do anything without that letter.” “What?! Fine.” Then my husband and I stand there while they look through their old faxes looking for the letter. Scott needed x-rays too, so since the technician was just sitting there watching the receptionist look at faxes, I suggested that he get his x-rays done in the mean time.

By this time it’s been nearly 2 hours, and Scott needed to get back to school, so we said forget it, and scheduled new appointments. I drove to the doctor and had them send the fax again and give me a copy to hand carry in. Then I called the local dentist office and confirmed that they received the fax.

Lesson:

I tend to assume people will do their job for the sake of keeping it. Scott says you generally have to push people along and tell them what to do every step of the way. I guess right when we got there I should have said, “Call me to let me know I have an appointment confirmed. Now look at my chart. Is there any issue there that must be resolved? Now, allow my husband to see an x-ray technician, because one is not busy currently. Thank you.”

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Dentist – Week 1

Okay, so I inform the 800 number receptionist that I’m pregnant and she says I should go to my appointment. When I get there they will give me a paper to fax to my doctor, which he faxes back saying I can take x-rays and get treatment, and I get moving on my dental work. Sweet, so I get to my appointment and inform the local receptionist of what 800 number lady told me. “Oh,you have to have your doctor fax us a letter,” she says. “I know, they said I get the letter from you and you fax it to them, the doctor signs it and I’m good to go.” She informs me that it has to come from the doctor first, so I give up and just spend time filling out their new patient information including a health questionnaire with about 100 questions on it, which I specifically mark YES to “Are you pregnant?” So I call my doctor and have them fax the letter.

Lesson:
Make sure the local office is on the same page as the national or regional office, and that both are aware of the company’s policies.

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Poor Customer Service and My General Frustrations with Going to the Dentist

I don’t think many people really enjoy going to the dentist, but I had come to believe that with the right dentist and their assistants it would be bearable. The worst part of going to the dentist should be the sound of the drill, or whatever else may be unpleasant about the procedure. There is a problem when scheduling an appointment, waiting at the office, and talking to the dental assistants, x-ray technicians and dentist are the parts you dread.

My school’s insurance policy requires me to go to Western Dental. Don’t get me wrong, the people you talk to after dialing their 800 number are great. They promptly set appointments, give you reminder calls, and call your local office to confirm the appointment with them. Although, they did also send reminder post cards that arrived the day of the appointment. Considering that my mail arrives at noon and that was when the appointment was, the system is somewhat ineffective.

Now, it’s the people at the local office that worry me. My first question is, if you are a dentist why would you not open your own practice rather than working for Western Dental? It seems that if you have to work for Western Dental, you are not a very good dentist. Though Kaiser Permanente health care runs on the same system – namely that the same company runs both the insurance and actually employs dentists or doctors to take care of you- and I don’t have a negative bias towards Kaiser. Maybe someone working for Western Dental could inform me. Maybe you just don’t want to deal with the trouble of running your own practice…I could see that I guess. Or maybe you just can’t keep customers around long enough because of your junky customer service, so you get a continuous supply through Western Dental.

Besides the quality of care, which so far hasn’t actually been bad, let me tell you my story and you see where someone was not concerned with customer service. Number one issue: I am pregnant. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to get x-rays when you are pregnant, right? Well here is what the American Pregnancy Association has to say. Besides that, I’m an engineer and I’ve studied my share of physics and can understand statistical data when given to me. I know that x-rays are actually just high-energy light…light’s pretty scary and all, but really that’s why you where a lead shield. Other sources I’ve read said also that if a woman has a medical problem, even if she’s pregnant you should just aim the x-ray right at the abdomen and take the x-ray. There is not much evidence that it will hurt the baby and it’s a small dose. So really, I’m not worried about the x-ray thing. And I tend to get frustrated when people repeat things they have no idea about just because it’s what everyone says.

I’ll keep you posted on this ongoing saga. Here’s a week-by-week playback of the terrible customer service I have received so far.

Week 1Week 2Week 3

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Priorities

As part of getting ready for a new quarter of school, I generally take a look at what I was doing the previous quarter in all aspects of my life and how each of those activities made me feel. I recommend this procedure to everyone. I generally have a tendency to take on about one too many things at a time. Sometimes I try to take one more class than I have time for; other times I try to be involved in too many organizations or sports. Recently, upon executing my quarterly evaluation, I decided that I had once again tried to do one too many things. I began feeling really nervous about this quarter whenever I thought about it during Christmas break, so I knew I needed to change something about my plan. Trying to keep up with this blog this quarter was unfortunately what needed to be removed from the list.

Last quarter I had many of my posts written from my free time over the summer. I had saved them up while we got the website up and running, and so last quarter I simply had to worry about writing less. I would still like to keep this going, but it’ll have to be on a more spur of the moment basis. For example, right now, I have a few minutes before my next class, but its not enough time to get any homework done, so I decided to write. Anyway, more about priorities:

I try to keep my priorities in line as follows:

  1. Family: Make sure my husband and I have everything we need and are doing what we need to be sure that we will be able to raise a happy, healthy family.
  2. Church/Religion: This ties in closely with family, but I think that a person needs to spend a good deal of time reflecting on their own spirituality, how they act towards others and how their behavior reflects the person they want to be.
  3. Education/Occupation: Here I have to make some choices on what is most important in the long run, but I look at what I need to be doing to make sure that I can be employed in the future in a job that I enjoy doing. This also includes helping my husband do the same thing, so that when we have children, I can stay home and make sure they are raised correctly.

Beyond that there’s not much more. Most of my life currently fits into those three categories, and as long as I keep them in that order, I am happy. If I take on too many responsibilities from a lower category which effect the higher categories, my life seems much more stressful and chaotic. Once, I get it back in order, things seem to smooth out. Also, I think I accomplish more by keeping my priorities in order. I seem to have more time for more things, than when my priorities are out of order.

Well, I have to run to class now. I’ll come back and spell-check this later!

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