This was it. My first patient in my own practice. An adult, a female, she arrived with her mother. Neither of them could remember her date of birth. She insisted that no dentist had ever taken a medical history before or taken X-rays or looked at her gums or done an extra-oral examination.
That first patient felt like hard work. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. My little “cold squat” with the great big sign, in a converted shop on the A38, 2 miles south of Gloucester City. An £8000 loan from my father, a load of second hand equipment and a sofa bed in the backroom where my wife and I slept.
There was no shortage of ambition, excitement and fear.
The weekly schedule began on Monday morning as an Oral Surgery Clinical Assistant, Pilgrim Hospital, Boston Lincs,. Monday afternoon, all day Tuesday and Wednesday associate in Peterborough. Wednesday evening the 130 mile drive to Gloucester. Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning in my own place. Then back home in Stamford to do the washing and sleep before starting the game over again.
It had taken so long to come to fruition that I had been unable to plan very much, as deadline after deadline slipped by my resolve wobbled but never disappeared. By the time it started it was almost an anti-climax. The second week in one of my two turbines died, a Kavo, almost new or so I had been told. I ordered an NSK, the cheapest one I could find. £80. It ran and ran and ran for nearly two decades, easy to repair, a wonderful workhorse it paid for itself probably a thousand times over.
After 5 weeks I went down to 2 days as an associate, by Christmas I had a close to full-time practice. It looked as if 1989 was going to be a great year, the prospects were good, the future looked bright.