Sometimes I get little surprises and I get wary. Needless to say, this week was different. I got plenty of surprises and they were all great. This young patient gave me permission to show her picture and name but I decided to keep both private for now. I just wanted to share her thoughtfulness in her own handwriting, because nowadays, most kids communicate through email or text. It definitely warmed my heart. I have great patients.
After two plus months of Shelter-in-Place, we are finally back at work in full force. I miss all my patients. I miss the daily routine of using my mind for more than just cooking and cleaning. The intellectual challenge is stressful at times but sooo welcome now. I actually only stopped working for about 2 weeks. The first month of SiP was extremely busy. We had to get all the cases done and crowns cemented in rapid time within restricted days and hours. As president of NCAGD (general dentists group), I had to sort out the daily changing policies and orders of the state, counties and CDC. There were so much confusion and panic. I met regularly with dental CPA's, attorneys, dental leaders, and dental board members to get our information straight. Obviously, there were also a lot of assumptions and power struggles that had to be reconciled. I know, disappointing.
Now, we are back and many changes we have made. You will see sneeze guards, more medical grade air purifiers to clean the air at a faster rate, UVC lights to sanitize our PPEs and rooms, pulse oximeters and questionnaires to assess risk of COVID-19. Everyone is required to have face covering upon entering the office. With all the N95 and surgical masks along with the face shields, our faces have dents, our oxygen levels went down while our body temperature went up. How can they say this is keeping us healthy? We all know what can happen when someone say," I can't breathe..."
I think it's a hoot to see patients in face masks. I used to think Vietnamese people were funny for always wearing a face mask driving their mopeds around the city. Now I think you're crazy if you don't wear one outside your home. It has become my norm.
I am really glad to be back. I miss the interactions with other humans. I look forward to seeing everyone, welcoming news of matrimonies, babies, graduations, new homes, etc. You are my dental family. Welcome back.
We were getting ready to go in for surgery. Bob was bopping her head behind me. That's the look of happiness, people.
In February, no one thought life was going to change so quickly when March came. Within two weeks of its arrival, California ordered a "Shelter-in-Place" and we all stayed home. The schools were closed and offices throughout the states were shuttered. Medical and dental offices remained open for emergency cases only. The pandemic of COVID-19 has taken over the world. It was spreading faster than we can contain it. People are dying not just from the disease itself but also from lack of ventilators. Yes, in the world's richest country, we did not have enough ventilators.
Six weeks later, we are the epicenter of the coronavirus. But really, can we trust what the Chinese are saying about their numbers? If you were religious, you would think this is a cleansing. If you were a naturalist, then Mother Nature is violated so nature will take its course by exposing all the diseases to our world, slowly. If you were a conspiracy theorist, don't bother. It has already been proven this is not manmade. This strain can kill but most will recover. I just wish people can see that number as well.
So, another month of SiP. Everyone has to participate to buy time for a vaccine to be developed and more research to be done. We need to know what we are fighting to fight it. An invisible enemy is the worst type of war we want to be in. If people keep dying and we keep getting infected, what kind of world will we emerge back into? We all need to do our part. Everyone is suffering. Everyone. This will go down in history as one of our darkest days. So let's do our part and stay home. Be kind and considerate of our neighbors. Keeping to yourself is so easy to do. If we all do it together, then we will all survive this together. Please stay safe and healthy. Remember to wash your hands and face regularly.
On a Leap year day, I taught a course on implant surgery. I was up by 5 AM and left my house by 6 AM to make it to the venue to help set up. We had over 52 attendees, most of which were my students from the local dental schools. But I also had southern California dental school students attend. I can’t believe they made the drive up. I was quite impressed as they’re so eager to learn. We also had dentists from Alaska and Oregon. It was a full room.
As the day went on, I kept teaching and discussing implant placement. My throat got coarse. My executive director reminded me I still have another event to go to that evening. By 5:10 PM, I was driving back to San Jose. By 7:30 PM, I was on stage giving a speech about NCAGD to a bunch of Vietnamese dentists who were not paying attention. I also made a joke and only the MC’s heard and laughed. By 8 PM, I was ready to go home. But since my girlfriend was performing at the event, I had to stay to support her. We were friends back in residency, where she got engaged, married and pregnant in that one fiscal year. Twenty years later, we’re still supporting each other. To this day, she still questions me why I work so hard. I reciprocated the question back at her. Neither one of us had a good answer.
By 11:30 PM, I was emailing an executive director about helping a dentist from my bedroom. At 12:30 AM the next morning, I was in bed wide awake. My mind was racing and couldn’t shut down. Somewhere after 9 AM, my son hopped into bed with me and my phone started buzzing with texts from that dentist I was trying to help. Then my own executive director texts came through. Needless to say, my day started again, only to end at 10:30 PM. By this time, my voice was really coarse as we had unexpected guests over.
So that was my usage of the extra Saturday I was given. I think I can only do this on Leap years. I hope your extra day was relaxing and enjoyable. The next Leap year with an extra Saturday will be in 28 years.
FellowTrack students from UCSF dental school.
My girlfriend of 20+ years. Both Dr. Vu's...I mean...how can we not be friends?
Here she is on stage and getting everyone to the dance floor. She rocked it. I was so proud. Look at all the professional moms on stage...sexy!
Last week, my Uncle Dan passed away. On what would have been his 83rd birthday, his family buried him. The funeral was a Buddhist ceremony. Uncle Dan has 4 adult children, 8 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter. At the funeral, my cousins (his children) and I were asked if any one of us could translate what the Buddhist monk was saying to English for the non-Vietnamese speakers. Dumbfounded, we all looked at each other. Uncle Dan's oldest child, my oldest cousin, said he was the only one that could speak Vietnamese in his family but his Vietnamese was at an elementary level. Then they all turned to me. I said I can speak Vietnamese well but I don't know if I can translate the true meaning of the monk's words to English without compromising their meanings. Stalemate. Then in come my uncle Gary. Uncle Gary is my uncle Dan's friend for over 60 years. Uncle Gary said he could translate the monk's meaning to English but was worried his emotions would overwhelm him . He just lost his best friend. So with desperation, uncle Gary was our translator.
He actually did a terrible job but he was so cute. You can tell the monk's words were getting to him. He started to lose focus as tears blurred his concentration. He couldn't get words out and I hand motioned and mouthed a few words to him. Afterwards, he came over to me in the front row to apologize for his poor performance. I assured him he did fine as he performed a job that none of us could have done. Still not convinced, he took his seat.
It's funny at funerals. People are usually so sad at first then as the day goes on, you see more happiness. My dad was talking and laughing as he mingles with attendees and checks in on his distraught sister, my newly widowed aunt. A lot of my relatives from both sides of my families were there. We all talked and met one another (again). Some I haven't seen in decades and others, I simply have not met. They came from all over the world. It was a touching moment when I realized how loved my uncle was. What he accomplished in death was an almost impossible feat in life. He brought us all together to celebrate his life. He was never an attention seeker but he got all of our attention.
By the time I left, my heart was not as heavy as it was in the morning. I was actually happy to see and meet a lot of my relatives. Isn't it ironic how it takes a death in the family to bring people together? I wonder why we can't just do it when most of us were alive? I guess mortality humbles us all to make time for each other, no matter how short.