Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We're All Connected....

.....in so many ways.  I have fairly severe temporal mandibular joint disorder.  It is so bad that as a teenager, my jaw would pop out of joint and freeze in the open position (OK, no cracks about me and my big mouth!).  Needless to say, it was painful.  My head tied in knots; I lived with daily headaches.   My sinus headaches were more severe than at any other point in my life.  I went to dentist after dentist. A couple of them thought it was all in my head (really?).  One thought daily injections of painkillers in my mouth would solve the problem - that killed a few nerves and created a decades long fear of novacaine needles.  Finally, I found a dentist who understood what was going on.  My teeth didn't mesh properly and the resulting misalignment threw all the muscles in my head off.  He rebuilt my mouth - no mean feat, as my bite is like the proverbial princess and the pea.  I now have a different dentist, who I adore, and thank heaven's he's patient and painstaking, because the princess and the pea is back because crowns don't last forever and have to be replaced.  It will be fine, because he gets the interrelationship between my bite and the muscles and joints in my head.   In fact, he just worked with a dentist who believes he can utilize the alignment of the bite to correct a misalignment in the hips.  Wow.  Way more complicated than simply taking care of the health of the mouth, which is what he was initially trained to do.

Anyway, during one of my many trips to the dentist this past week and a half, my dentist mentioned that he had just attended a training on domestic violence.  Yes, you heard me correctly, my dentist attended a continuing education on domestic violence and how to identify it.  My poor dentist.  Not only does he have to pay attention to the health of the teeth and gums, he also has to study the anatomy of the rest of the body starting with the mouth, and be cognizant of the signs of domestic violence as it relates to dentistry.  It keeps him on his toes for sure, and guarantees he will never be bored in his work.

Here in the Trenches, life is much the same as for my dentist.  I, and most of my colleagues who toil here, are not amused when lawyers say they thought they'd try family law because "how hard can it be?"  Plenty hard.  Family law is not just about obtaining a divorce.  It's not only about divvying up possessions.  In order to practice family law and do it well, we have to know tax law, bankruptcy, and psychology.  We have to understand the latest theories about children and attachment to parents.  We need to be able to identify and work with people who are emotionally overwrought or mentally ill.  We have to understand retirement plans, military regulations, how to value a business or a house.  We need to understand how a mental health professional performs an evaluation, how to assess research in different substantive areas.  We need to know basic accounting, how to trace money, and of course, how to spot domestic violence and assess lethality. All of that changes and we have to keep up with those changes.  That is all in addition to knowing how to do all the other things a lawyer does, like try a case, negotiate and get that pesky divorce.  It's not easy; in fact it is one of the more difficult areas in which to practice because of all the types of things we need to know what to do, as well as the stress of having and managing emotional clients.  Everything affects everything else.  It's all connected.  .Just ask my dentist.  Here in the Trenches.

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