An Eighth Orthodontic Toast: Our Friends At Sea
I have completed a series of orthodontic reflections on the seven traditional naval toasts.
But I was a bit curious about the traditions. This started because of a memory of a Russell Crowe movie, Master and Commander, where he was the captain of HMS Surprise in the middle of a war between the UK and France. When I looked into it, the USA, Australia, India, Canada use a similar system of toasts. All former parts of the British Empire at some stage, but even when they left that organisation, they kept on some of these obscure traditions.
In Ireland we have some institutions that still keep titles that pre-date independence like The Royal College of Surgeons, where I sat my first post grad exam (“The Fellowship”), but on the other hand this country has been independent for about a century and the Irish Defence Forces draw their origins back to the foundation of the state – so I wondered what the situation was with the Irish Naval Service.
The simplest thing to do was ask them and they replied:
Whilst we don’t observe daily toasts, the Wardroom at Haulbowline will toast ”Ár cáirde ar muir“ meaning “to our friends at sea”.
This was interesting because I could see the orthodontic parallel right away. Like pretty much everyone as a result of the coronavirus, we’re all a bit “at sea”. Sometime around the end of last year for Chinese orthodontists and mid-March for my colleagues here we set off and left behind everything that seemed familiar. At the start, there were no obvious landmarks or points of reference; we were in uncharted waters equipped only with the skills and knowledge we’ve acquired to this point. We’re fortunate that we have great communications with colleagues from all over the world to tap into their experiences, but between us, we’re making the new charts.
When Swords Ortho stopped seeing routine orthodontic patients as a public health measure, I set up a WhatsApp group for my colleagues –partly to look out for each other in what is already a very stressful occupation but mainly to find out what was going on, because I couldn’t rely on my own ability to find out all the things that I would want to know. It started off with about 10 people. Now there’s about 90. That’s a large chunk of all the orthodontists in the country.
Now, we get the odd glimpse of what we need to do. We’ve a good idea of where we want to go with being able to see our patients safely, what it should look like when we get there, but the journey…well, we’re still figuring it out, but it’s starting to get a lot clearer now and I’ll be blogging more soon about Swords Orthodontics’ plans to reopen.
Until then though, we lift our glasses....
Our Friends At Sea