Saying Goodbye

by Dr. Max Zaslavsky

Adele - My first dental patient.

Me and Adele in 2014 shortly after I had torn my achilles, hence the crutches.

At 32 years old (I am 41 as I write this), I became a business owner. Being a dentist does not automatically qualify you for being a good entrepreneur. You are not taught how to be a business owner. I was schooled in drilling a tooth, how to remove a tooth, but never how to run a payroll let alone a credit card machine. Becoming a business owner and your level of success is more about drive, and the people you associate with as you grow and develop.

As I began to upgrade a newly purchased older office, I had to get computer screens for each of my ops as well as the front desk. In 2009, there I am in the west Boca Best Buy asking the sales lady which computer screens should I get for the best detail to show dental decay; because somehow she will miraculously know. She probably could have sold me a computer screen made of Jello and I would have bought it. As I was just right of all those CD’s of that I used to purchase of Shakira and Miley Cyrus (don’t judge….yes I know you are judging…..stop judging), I’m now stacking computer screen box on top of computer screen, and a voice from behind said, “What are you, robbing the place?” To which I ignored.

Again, a Brooklyn accented voice from behind became more directed towards me, “What are you robbing the store?” So fine, I turn around. Here is this maybe 5’0 tall woman with bright red hair giving me a hard time. My mental state wasn’t good. I was already in over my head with the new office, being panicked constantly saying to myself, “Dear Lord, what have I done? Where do I begin?” I have to buy computers, I have to buy dental software, I have to buy a new chair because one of the dental chairs decided to stop working the day I bought the office…..it didn’t stop. I was getting punched left and right, and I didn’t know when it would stop (but I also wasn’t going to get knocked out. I was never going to allow myself to give up on this office), and here this little lady at Best Buy busting my balls (yes, that’s the only way to say it).

I replied,

“No I am buying these screens because I just bought a dental office and I need them for the office.”

“You’re a dentist?” She asked.

“Yes, I just moved back here from Ft. Myers, and I just bought an office.”

“Give me your card, I need a dentist.”

I went to my car, I just had my brand new cards made up from Vistaprint (because this first 100 are free), and returned. To my surprise, she was still there with her husband waiting for my card. We talked for a few minutes. I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, what are the chances this person would come into my office because she met me at a Best Buy?

Adele, was the first patient I ever “earned” in my office. Meaning, I didn’t just put up a sign, but I rather went out and had officially “networked” to get someone to come into my store. Granted, she accosted me, and there wasn’t a free first drink at a fancy bar, but it became my first victory in an uphill battle of becoming a business owner. It wasn’t a social mixer with handshakes and mini hot dogs, but it was just with genuine old fashioned, being good to one another and being an overall good person.

Adele had been my patient since I opened the doors. She was the first person I can recall who gave me a chance in becoming successful. She was someone who drove all the way from west Boca to my office in east Fort Lauderdale, and I could not tell you why. She drove past maybe 150 dentists at least to come to my office for any of her dental needs. Adele showed me photos of her butterflies and talked about her family. Adele gave me a hard time because that’s what people who evolve into friends do- they give you a hard time. She was part of the beginnings of my office when I used to hug my patients (which honestly I don’t do as much as times have changed over the last 9 years). Adele was a marker in my life because she gave me a chance, when aside from my family, not too many did. Any dentist can tell you they have that patient on the schedule who you just dread coming in. Adele was the complete opposite.

I got a call last week from her loving husband that she was in the hospital. I went over to visit her, and got to meet her son which she had lovingly spoken about over the years. Her son and I spoke for about 20 minutes, mostly about her care while she was laying there not in the best of shape. I said goodbye, she wasn’t coherent, so I just left a card as her son had asked to prove that I was there. I planned on coming back this weekend, but things changed.

Very shortly afterwards, yesterday in fact (12/15/17), I got a text from her husband that she was in hospice. I planned on seeing her today (12/16/17), but some short hours after the first text I was told she had moved on to the next world. She was a beautiful person inside and out. She cared. She cared about people. She would randomly message me on Facebook to say hello (yes we became FB friends even), or to wish me a happy birthday. She was 100% love. She was always in a good mood. She was a person I don’t think I could ever see in a bad mood. She didn’t read an online review about me. Adele just gave me an opportunity. It did not matter if my ranking was a 4.9 or a 2.3 on a Yelp, Google, etc. She gave me a chance back when I was a 0.0.

I had a college chemistry professor in Auburn University who told me,

“Max you will get old, but I never will.”

I pondered, “what do you mean Dr. Friedman?”

He said that as a professor, he sees a new group of young people year after. He felt relevant because he was always amongst young people. Me on the other hand, I was going to get older with my patients. Was he right!

I have an office with my name on the door. When it is you on the door, I am not only getting older, and balder, but I am growing older now with my patients. I used to be the 20 something dentist. At 41, no one asks me if I am old enough to be their dentist. Patients are moving to other areas, or as I just talked about Adele, they are moving on to another world. I am going to miss her joy and her personality that she gave at me. I will remember her for the confidence she placed in me before I had the confidence in my own office. I will miss the hug and her calling me sweetie when I would say goodbye to her. I may not be the “cosmetic dentist to the stars,” but I have definitely been given the gift of wonderful patients in my life.

Dr. Max Zaslavsky is a dentist in Fort Lauderdale. His office accepts emergencies and is equipped with the latest technology to provide a better patient experience. When Dr. Max is not working with patients, or continuing his professional development, he enjoys watching a Marlins game, going to the gym and attending live music events in the South Florida area.

Dr. Max Zaslavsky – who has written posts on Dr. Max Zaslavsky, DMD.


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Max Zaslavsky DMD

Dentist in Fort Lauderdale
6451 N. Federal Highway, Ste. 129 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
Latitude: 26.2075996 Longitude: -80.10801679999997
Phone: (954) 491-3544