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Leading by Example: The Power of Helping Others with Your Skill Set

By: Suzeanne Harms


Last November, my mother was attending a high school reunion in Arizona, when she suffered a serious stroke. As a result, she was left paralyzed on the left side of her body, which was devastating news to me and my family. It was heartbreaking to imagine this strong and vibrant woman weakened, vulnerable, and so far away from home.

After several somber weeks, the doctors finally agreed she was stable enough to travel. We picked her up from the hospital and made the trip back home to California, where we hoped she would recuperate at a rehab facility in Huntington Beach.

Unfortunately, the after-effects of the stroke made her recovery more difficult than we anticipated. One significant setback we experienced was the loss of her bottom denture. This, along with her paralyzed condition, made her unable to eat solid foods. Since she refused the pureed foods the nurses gave her, she lost an alarming amount of weight, which drastically affected her well-being.

Finding an Unlikely Solution

I became desperate in my search for a solution to her problem, but the options we had looked dismal at best. When we looked at replacing her denture with the rehab facility’s dentist, they told us that the impression alone cost $900-$1,100 dollars. On top of that, the Medicare approval process would tack on additional time that we didn’t have at this point.

Like most people, I spend a large percentage of my life at work, where my stress must have showed. I began working at Glidewell in 1999, originally building my career in customer service, but moved positions in 2011 to become our trade show manager.

“We offer discounts to employees’ immediate family members for lab work, Suzeanne. You’ll be able to save quite a bit of money by utilizing this benefit. Why don’t you look more into this and see what we can help you with?” a friend from HR recommended.

Reaching Out to a Friend for Help

dr-muresan-glidewell-dentalDr. Muresan with a patient.

After thinking about what my friend said, I decided to ask Dr. Anamaria Muresan about my mother’s case. We had gotten to know each other over the course of 18 years together at Glidewell, so approaching her for advice didn’t seem unusual. In addition, I knew that as a former lab technician in the fixed department, she was also highly experienced in denture work. Despite having her patients here and a family to take care of when she was not at work, she stepped forward and offered her services.

Due to my mom’s weight loss, we feared that there was not enough retention left in her mouth to hold the denture in place. To our relief though, Dr. Muresan was able to finalize the design for her Simply Natural Digital Dentures™ in one easy visit.

Remembering Who She Was

Enjoying food with the people she loved was one of the most important aspects of my mother’s life. She was our family’s chef, who took pleasure in cooking for anyone who walked into her home. Our house was always filled with appetizing smells of traditional Filipino dishes. Thanks to Dr. Muresan, she regained the ability of doing what she loved for the last few weeks of her life.

The Sunday before she passed, she was excited to sit up in bed and eat the foods she was craving. Unfortunately, her stroke had too much of a negative effect on her body, and we lost her last spring.

Having the Support of Your Glidewell Family

Shortly thereafter, I crossed paths with Dr. Muresan at work. She thoughtfully stopped by my office with more glue for my mom’s dentures, which led me to break down in front of her. When I explained to her what happened, she started crying too, understanding how I felt, since she knew my mom and recently lost her own mother, as well.

I found comfort in knowing that I had such a great friend and colleague in Dr. Muresan. Since then, our friendship has only grown stronger. This experience caused us to bond in a special way and I’m forever grateful for her help.

I’m not sure how I could ever repay her, but one way that I try is by helping her with her makeup for any events, photographs, or videos that she will be featured in for Glidewell. I have done this in the past, since I also serve as a makeup artist for Chairside® magazine, and I’m looking forward to doing her makeup at the Glidewell Dental Symposium this November in Dallas.

Learning the Importance of Charity

beauty-bus-foundation-makeup-artistSuzeanne working at an event for the Beauty Bus Foundation.

Helping one another is an important aspect of Glidewell’s work culture. Our employees have embraced and adopted this attitude from our founder and president, Jim Glidewell, who has always set an example for us.

This experience with Dr. Muresan inspired me to give back by using my own skill set. I also learned after my mother’s death that she was heavily involved in charity at the Boy and Girls Clubs and with her church. Because of them, I decided to become active in the Beauty Bus Foundation. This organization helps terminally ill patients and their caregivers feel appreciated and glamorous through complimentary beauty services.

Grief is a long and painful process, but I consider myself blessed, since I’ve found a positive method of healing. Performing acts of service helps me concentrate on keeping my mother’s memory alive by doing something kind for others. I also know my mom would be incredibly proud of me for getting involved in charity work.

My mother, Dr. Muresan, and other close members of my Glidewell family, have all been leaders by example. They’ve inspired me to serve, and I can only hope that my journey encourages another person to do the same.

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