avatarBette A. Ludwig 🔍 PhD


You Can Do Everything Right, and Sh(it) Still Happens

My not so fun visit to the dentist left me pondering how and why things happen in life

Photo by Huseyn Naghiyev from Vecteezy

I checked in for my semi-annual dental visit for teeth cleaning recently. I didn’t even get the luxury of getting to the end of my appointment with the hygienist before the dentist gave me the bad news. Usually, she does the exam at the end, but this time she couldn’t even wait that long before ruining the rest of my day.

She looked at the X-rays, and with each scroll, she nodded to the assistant, uttering, “Beautiful.” Then she paused and asked her to go back. I could see her squinting and moving closer to the screen as she pointed.

She closed her lips and said, “Yep, I see it right there.”

I immediately knew it wasn’t going to be good. She confirmed I had a cavity under one of my crowns. I sighed in defeat. It was the same crown my hygienist was concerned about six months ago.

She told me it would become irreversible if I didn’t get my receding gums under control around the crown. She suggested I start using a water pik because there was still hope.

Are you serious?

I already brushed twice a day and flossed daily. Now, I had to add a water pik to the mix. But I bit the bullet and bought one. It was a slight learning curve, but I grew to enjoy it over time.

I thought I had found my secret weapon, never to replace a crown again. I couldn’t believe my ears when I still couldn’t prevent the cavity, even after all that extra effort. The thought of forking out a half-grand minimum to fix it made me nauseous.

I told my dentist I was at a loss. I said I brush at least twice a day and usually three times. I floss daily and even added a water pik to my regime. I don’t know what more I can do.

She put her hand on my arm and said, “Sometimes it happens even when you do all the right things — it still happens.”

I moped about for a bit after my appointment. I’m fine with the future dental visit. The out-of-pocket expense hurts, but I did everything possible to prevent it. That’s what grinds my teeth the most.

Sometimes, it is what it is

We all know life doesn’t always play by the rules. I read about it from one of my favorite Medium authors, Tom Handy. He reminds us that no one owes us anything and that life isn’t always fair.

How often have people made the best choice, and shit still happens anyway?

Throughout our lives, we encounter numerous unjust situations. We can make the honorable choice and still be taken advantage of or lose out on opportunities we believe we deserve or even those we genuinely do.

Think about the following scenarios:

  • The student who studies for 10 hours but barely passes with a D, while a classmate doesn’t even crack the book open for an effortless A.
  • The faithful wife who takes care of her husband and his children only to have her marriage fall apart because he falls in love with someone else, leaving her to start over at 40.
  • The man who works hard to support his family in a job that robs him of his soul. His reward is to live in a sexless marriage with a wife who isn’t attracted to him anymore.
  • The dutiful employee who takes his job seriously shows up each day and puts in an honest day’s work. However, he is bullied and fired anyway.
  • The childless couple desperate to have children, suffering through in vitro, finally conceiving only to miscarry a month later.
  • The parent who loses a child to random gun violence and sinks into depression they can’t escape.
  • The helpless child who lost both parents at seven to cancer and suicide only to be placed in a home with abusive relatives.
  • The avid runner who eats healthy foods and exercises religiously but died of breast cancer before turning 30.

While the above scenarios seem general, they all involve people I know. I’m sure you could generate your own list. It’s difficult to fathom why things happen the way they do. Yet, it’s not up to us to determine who gets what or why.

But the questions remain:

  • Why do some people get away with certain actions, whereas others are punished for similar behavior?
  • Why do some seem so lucky while others stumble upon misfortune after misfortune?
  • Why do some people do everything the way they should, but things still don’t work out?

Here’s why, and it’s relatively simple. It’s precisely as my dentist stated:

Sometimes, you can do everything right, and (sh)it still happens.

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© 2023 Bette A. Ludwig: All rights reserved.

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It Happened To Me
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