I have to admit, I’ve never had a particularly high pain threshold, but recently my ability to deal with pain was seriously tested. After a night out celebrating a friend’s birthday (which might have involved drinking one or two ice-chilled, acidic yet strangely compelling and colourful cocktails), I woke up to the most severe dental pain I’ve ever had the displeasure to endure. Thinking the ice in the cocktails must have caused some sensitivity, I tried to “ride it out”, but it got worse and worse and worse. Without wanting to wallow in too much drama and hyperbole, I’d say that it felt like a shark had bitten off the whole left side of my face…
I quickly realised I needed help so I made an emergency appointment to see my dentist. He examined the affected area, gave me some temporary pain relief, and diagnosed the likely problem as an old filling that may need drilling and replacing. In fact, I might need a dreaded root-canal filling or even an extraction. Scary news indeed! I was sent home to consider my options, taking a veritable cornucopia of painkillers to get me through. I was due to return in one week to have more treatment.
The importance of holstic analysis and diagnosis
The weekend came. The pain escalated, and became even more severe. I couldn’t see my regular dentist so I visited another clinic. Here’s the thing: this second dentist examined my whole mouth, not just the area that caused pain. She identified a cavity over the other side of my mouth, and explained how sometimes patients get “referred pain”; that’s pain in one area that is triggered by a problem in a completely different area. She gave a holistic diagnosis, and recommended starting with the least evasive action, filling this cavity, and only working up to root canal or extraction only if absolutely necessary.
This scenario resonated with me. How many projects are progressed in response to acute pain of a “burning platform” where the only option seems to be both drastic and urgent? Yet if the organisation is in pain, has it inadvertently opted for an invasive procedure that might not even be necessary? Knee-jerk reactions lead to unnecessary surgery on our processes, systems and IT. Surgery that might even make the problem worse. An extracted tooth will never grow back.