This weekend, I took my daughter to get her hair cut before orchestra overnight camp for a week. She had asked the lady to cut her long hair up to her underarm pit. That is a good 6 inches of hair to lose. With an agonizingly slow pace, her hair got shorter and shorter, creeping up to her shoulders. One stylist after another came in to fix the “thickness” of her hair. I can see the worries on my daughter’s face as she sees her hair going from an unwanted short hairstyle, into a long bob then medium bob. I raised my index finger to my lips to signal for her to stay calm. When it got to be a ridiculous fight over which side is longer and an hour later, I walked over to the third stylist and told her I just want to take my daughter home. The first lady said the haircut was free as it was so much shorter than what my daughter had asked for. Four inches shorter to be precise, 10 inches cut off overall.
As I walked towards the door, I laid my money on their countertop and left. I paid for the haircut and left a tip. It wasn’t for their (lack of) skill, but they tried. Incompetency still needs to be paid. I put my hand on my daughter’s back to show support in public. The minute we sat in the car, tears flowed and my heart ached for her. She kept it together for so long and when it was safe to let go, she did. I gave my motherly speech but it didn’t work. Tears still came. When we arrived home, I told her to sit down again so I can try to fix it. After another 10 minutes, her hair line was much better. I continued my motherly speech of how beautiful she is, regardless of hairstyle. She stood up, defeated, and went to take a shower.
Luckily for us, she is leaving for camp soon to be with her friends. There she will be distracted with her peers and orchestra. There is no time to fuss over hair. I keep reminding her the hairstyle itself is not bad. The problem lies in its short length. But hair will grow again. When dinner came and went, she was already adapting to her new haircut. The smile was back on her face. She was talking away about her plans for camp. She is a lot better than I at that age with a horrible haircut. I remember being mad for days. I’m so glad in this society, my daughter is not obsessed over hair. I’m also glad she understands what we may not like at first can grow on us.
This picture was taken the day before her haircut. She had just came back from a company picnic trip with her uncle. She was showing me her hummingbird tattoo. Luckily, she believed my speech that she is beautiful regardless of hairstyle. I mean, seriously, look at those lips.
This past weekend I was in Connecticut for the AGD annual conference. $70 in Lyft ride later, I arrived at the casino for the fun. Typically, it would be fun but this time, they spread the courses over two areas and I ended up running from one side of the casino to the other for my courses. Even the ladies at the help desk felt sorry for me. My classes were alternating their east and west locations. Needless to say, I got my exercise in after an overnight flight.
The following day I was just in one spot for an all-day course. My legs thanked me as my laziness took over. That night, I met up with all the awardees and other board members from California to celebrate their achievements. I saw the same family that I sat next to on the plane and we talked some more. It’s amazing how I’m the “older” one in the group now. The younger dentists were asking for advice and ideas. It was definitely a catch-22.
On my way home, I missed my connection and ended up spending a night in Minneapolis with a friend. Her home was located in a neighborhood that Californians would only see in the movies with the time setting in the 50’s or 60’s. We stayed up late to catch up and again at breakfast before she drove me back to the airport. At the restaurant, I had to be the darkest person there. That’s the joke I tell my patients and I’m repeating it here. And you know I’m lighter than half of you. Ah-hem…
So even as I detest flying and missed connections, I ended up with a pretty good trip. My meals were fancy as I hitched onto my colleague’s VIP lounge. I won some money at the roulette table. Nothing to brag about as it didn’t even pay for my Lyft ride, but it’s something. I got to see my girlfriend after all these years. I looked like a mess on Monday but my mask and glasses covered all the flaws. Like the saying goes: there’s always a silver lining somewhere.
Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, CT.
Lobster salad, cocktail shrimp, grilled veggies wrap and fresh pineapple. Yum.
With CAGD executive director. There was a funny picture of us but I can't seem to upload it here.
Meet my newest foster puppy. She is only 3 months old and has only 3 legs. She lost her leg recently and no one at the humane society knows what happened. But from her running around and speed, I don’t think she knows she’s missing a hind leg. She’s so fast that I had to get a leash to prevent her from chasing after rabbits when we go out to the backyard. She is a sweet puppy as she’s gentle. She doesn’t bark unless it’s 5:30 am in the morning because she wants company. She is almost completely potty-trained. She knows to pee and poo outside. There has only been a couple of accidents but that’s probably our fault for not taking her out enough. She is a smart dog. She understands some commands already and acts according to the tone of your voice.
We can’t figure out a name for her yet, but my boys like to call her Tripod. For a puppy, she is low maintenance. She likes to be where the family is and just sits at our feet. We put her blanket wherever we congregate and she lays right down. Everyday we toss a ball for her to exercise and she loves it. She likes being out in the backyard with the sun to sunbathe; a good belly rub is also much appreciated. She is up for adoption so if you are interested, please contact me and we can set up an appointment with you at the humane society. You will find yourself with a new happiness.
Recently I sedated a father for some major surgeries to rebuild his jaw in preparation for implant-supported restorations. As I was reviewing the post-op instructions with his daughter, she voiced her concerns that her father does not listen to post-op instructions. She said he was stubborn. Starting to hear a harsher tone from her, I interjected with my own father story to remind her that fathers are just stubborn. My goal was to keep her on my bandwagon of optimism. After exchanging a few stories, she stayed on. Suddenly my patient interjected with his own explanations of why my dad was so stubborn and mean at times. Obviously, the drugs did not take effect yet.
His stories started out benign and as he recalls his past experiences, they got deeply personal and extremely sad that even his daughter was surprised. I asked him not to talk anymore but his daughter wanted to hear them. I wanted to leave the room but he held onto my arm, wanting me to understand my dad better. Then as the drugs started to take effect, I stopped him. Both she and I were near tears and he wiped his away.
I remember being so strict with this patient because he doesn't listen. His rebuttal was typically, "I lived this long, I don't need to listen to anybody." Even after the first surgery with extractions and implant placement, he went home and smoked. How or why the implant stayed in there is beyond me. I have no explanations because he also has medical issues that was worrisome. But after this appointment, I could not repeat my restrictions to him. Instead, I helped him find a way that he could smoke and somehow protect the surgical site. I showed him a way to escape the "no smoking for 2 weeks" restriction. His daughter laughed but I was still determined to ask him not to smoke until the soft tissue is better.
Shortly afterwards Bob came into the room, his daughter said she needed to get her dad into therapy to address repressed emotional issues that he shared with me. When patients share stories of past traumas, I'm left aghast. The sincerity and heartfelt vocal vibrations in the narrator's recollection flood me with emotions. I'm so grateful for their trust. As for this patient, he and I will have a different relationship from now on. I'm going to have to treat him like my dad. I will only pick certain fights to fight. The rest of the time, I will just listen and let him talk. He was dealt with an unfair hand at the start of life. I am aiming for a place in his "nice" category when he recalls dentistry. He told me I was the one person that doesn't talk back to my dad so my dad can say anything to me, even unfairly. He's right. My dad is too old for me to argue with him. I just let him be.
As I sit here on the cusp of mid year, I am thankful for each day that has passed. For it means I've made it to the end of another day. At times this year can't end soon enough.
This past weekend, I said farewell to a teacher, mentor, friend and patient. He was my open water instructor. He ruined me for life with scuba diving for he spoiled me to the point of being a clump in water. Seeing I was a weak sauce, he held my hand and pulled me along under water. When everyone else was exhausted from a dive, I was still perky, wondering why they thought it was so hard. When I wanted to give up, he swayed me to continue. He placed the light in my dull life. When I told him my belly dancing teacher said, "no," to me, he said I didn't need moving hips to dive.
At his memorial service, his families and friends shared stories of his greatness and generosities. I've never known him to be any different. He was my teacher before he was my patient. He was in the office just a month before he passed. I've known him for over a decade and each time he comes in, he has optimism that was beyond my reach. His daughter said he went quick, with his loved ones around him in his home. I was glad to hear that cancer did not drag him down. It was also a pleasant surprise when his daughter knew who I was by name.
So to my teacher who is in heavenly water, you've already climbed the highest mountain on earth, may you continue to find adventure and climb the highest mountain above. I want you to know I know it was you who landed in my path on my morning walk in form of a bluejay. Of course you would visit me when I'm outdoor, enjoying the fresh air and feeling happy. That is my story and I'm sticking to it. Thank you, RC, for letting me into your life. You gave me some of my happiest memories. Mine and Bob's version of Lucy and Ethel on the beach is one of those moments that makes me laugh so hard recalling it. We still talk about it to this day with the same amount of silliness and laughter. How you just sat back and watched us fall over and over again was pure joy. How you cooled me down when I overheated was so fatherly. We have yet to laugh that hard in years. I know your spirit will continue to venture out. At least this time, you have no pain. Have a great afterlife, R! Now you don't have to worry about hurting yourself. Love you.