A couple of weeks ago I was in a seminar with a group of dentists. Amongst them was one of the most prominent dental researchers and clinicians of our time, Dr. Dennis Tarnow. From afar, he seems unapproachable and slightly intimidating. But up close and personal, he’s so nice. He gave one of the best lectures that I’ve heard in years. So, throughout the 4 days span, we struck up a friendship. I was able to pick his brain and ask questions concerning different facets of dentistry. He talked about the progress that dental researchers are making with rebuilding a tooth and all the futuristic stuffs that you see in the movies. I also heard from my colleagues about their wide range of experiences throughout their career. It was a very educational extended weekend.
Since it was only a small group of people, we were given insights into the future of our livelihood, where it is leading and how we’re going to get there. With modern technologies and improved research abilities, today’s ways of doing things will change in a few years. I am looking forward to the future when we are able to eradicate dental decay. Maybe not in my lifetime, but definitely in the next generation or so. Dentistry is hopping on the innovative bandwagon to incorporate the latest technologies in the profession. Just within the last 7 years, we have changed in many ways, from the way we take impressions for crowns, fillings, etc. to the way we rebuild those crowns, fillings and etc. Appointments went from weeks to hours. X-rays went from film to digital to 3D. We can even reconstruct your facial bones in one scan and determine the treatment for your dental rehabilitation. This was unheard in the last decade, yet we are still improving .
As we progress onward, I truly hope they invent an automatic flosser for patients. Or, at least a toothpaste that eliminates brushing for you, as brushing at night seems to be a difficult task to execute after dinner. With all the advancement in dentistry, can you imagine in medicine? Maybe one day we will have a cure for all types of cancer and diseases. Maybe one day the MRI scan won’t sound like someone is using a jackhammer pounding the metal right outside your head. But until then, please continue to floss and brush at night with fluoridated toothpaste, don’t try to walk while on Benadryl at night (office inside joke) and always keep making new friends even if you end up being the chauffeur.
The Chauffeur joke:
A speaker went from place to place to give his same speech one night. Then on his last stop, he was so tired he asked his chauffeur to give the speech instead as no one knows how he looks like. Hesitantly, the speaker’s chauffeur agreed to switch place with the speaker. He presented the lecture well and it was well-received. Afterwards, someone in the audience raised their hand to ask a question. Without hesitation, the chauffeur acting as the speaker replied, “That question is so easy, even my chauffeur in the back can answer it.”
Dr. Tarnow joked that I was his chauffeur throughout the 4 days course. Then in the end, I literally became his chauffeur as I ended up taking him to the airport. His taxi did not come on time and his flight was about to take off. He barely made it to the airport but he made it.
As we get ready to celebrate our freedom and independence in this great nation of ours, we wish you all a happy gathering of families, friends, neighbors and strangers. As the only refugee in the office, I want to say that I continue to believe America is great; it has always been great in my eyes. It has never ceased to be anything but great. However, recently for some reason, immigrants are labeled as bottom dwellers, rapists, drug dealers, murderers, gang members, etc. I don’t get it. If you were to put my family members and fellow (friends) refugees together, we could open a hospital with legal representation and even a pharmacy. We would have management from top to bottom. Mangers and doctors with training from Harvard, UCSF, UC Davis, UC San Diego, Creighton, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Michigan Ann Arbor, Columbia, USC, Stanford, Georgetown, Santa Clara University, University of Florida-Gainesville, Cal Poly, all the great schools in this nation. And that’s just in my circle of friends. My family has all races mixed into ours, even the ones labeled rapists and freeloaders. In this time of open hostility towards immigrants, separating families and blatant racism, I sincerely hope this, too, shall pass.
We are a nation of immigrants. Some have been here longer than others, but we are all immigrants. Only Native Americans can claim this is their land, as history has taught us. Regardless of race, nationality, legal status, please continue to extend some kindness and hope to those who have less than you do. It is not written anywhere in the bible to treat others differently based on race, nationality, or legal status. The bible teaches us to “love thy neighbors.” You don’t have to go and hug a neighbor, kindness can also mean to bite your tongue and withhold mean words. This will be the only time that I ask you to bite your tongue. Enjoy your 4th of July celebration.
Today is one of the few holidays that my family celebrate wholeheartedly. I get to relax while everyone else does the work. My kids get creative and show their appreciation for all that I’ve done. My husband does most of cleaning house but the kids help a lot. Me, I just sit back and watch. No presents can beat that. Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year. I like to see everyone working together doing chores without complaints. Watching my boys taking turns to steam mop the whole house is sweet as they were so polite and considerate to each other. Maybe they knew I was watching but nonetheless, it warms my heart. I don’t witness interactions like this often; it’s a rarity. Not even birthdays are this special.
As it is with every holiday, I would like to wish all the mothers (single dads too) a very happy and relaxing day. May your kids treat you to a peaceful day.
It reads: Mom, I love you.
One with the best heart ever!
Thankful to have you
Having you is the best
Everything you do is amazing
Remember everything you do, I love you.
...of course until I punish him for not listening...
This is from my youngest. He came into my office and commented on a painting. He said it was just splatter so he could paint one for me. So here it is...splatter, Timothy's version. Actually, it's just pouring paint but I'll live with it.
The pennies come with a funny story. Awhile back, Theodore broke his Lego toy apart and he can't seem to find all the pieces. Because I had already spent my money on that Lego toy for his birthday, he knew I was out of money. Therefore, he's been picking up pennies on the ground and saving them to give me so I can buy him another Lego set. Theodore agreed to pay for half of the new toy but he needs to come up with the other half. His new theme song for himself is from Khalid, "Young, Dumb and Broke." He's young, he's dumb (always getting caught for misbehaving) and he's definitely broke. He seems to enjoy being there for now. I'll even excuse this for his high school years but hopefully, not in his college years. So far, he collected 33 cents in the past month. He has a long way to go.
This past weekend I took my daughter with me to the Deaf Expo in Pleasanton. It was almost an hour drive to get there early in the morning. My role was to answer questions about dentistry. However, a lot of questions were about insurance coverage and not dental health. With literally hundreds of insurance policies in existence, it was difficult to answer all the questions. It’s hard enough to have to explain it to my hearing patients, can you imagine signing it in ASL? Thank goodness for the awesome interpreter, Pat, sitting next to me. He was more than generous with his time and skills! I just met him that day and after an hour, we were friends.
Truth be told, I didn’t think he was friendly at first. Apparently, one is not to talk when one is amongst the deaf. I never understood that because I’m a hearing person who learned ASL so I can “talk” to my hearing-impaired friends/patients. But it’s considered rude. So that first hour was very quiet on that side of my table. But within 30 minutes, their interpreters and hearing friends were all talking. The code of silence was no more. I wonder why a hearing person cannot talk and sign at the same time? It is so much easier, at least for me, than to sign without talking.
Pat watched me signed and took some of my business cards as he believes that you will get a better or more comprehensive medical/dental results when your doctor can communicate in your language, or in this case, ASL. Logically, it makes the appointment goes by quicker as there’s no writing back and forth. But for me, it’s just fun to be able to sign. I love it. Not to mention when I am working, my patients can sign to me without choking, by talking.
So, after introducing my daughter to a different culture, I asked her what she has learned from the experience. She replied:
She concluded on our way to the car, “People are people. It’s just how nice they are…” She had multiple opportunities to interact with deaf, hearing and hard-of-hearing visitors and she found many to be very friendly and nice, be them deaf or (hard of) hearing. Hopefully this is the lesson she will continue to take with her throughout her life. You are you, different from others and it’s okay. Sometimes it’s cool to be different and her mommy is cool.
After a long day at work, I ran in the pouring rain to the Transition Fair held at a local high school. A patient of mine had recommended me to the organizers and they asked if I would help out. I agreed to be the dental consultant for parents with special needs children. Upon my arrival, I was met by the parent volunteers. They looked at me and took pity. They helped me set up as I was soaked and wet from carrying boxes and bags without an umbrella, running from the parking lot to a hall on a campus I’ve never been to before. Luckily, there were students around who were nice enough to guide me in the right direction.
Once settled, I was told to grab my dinner ticket before the event starts. I went outside again and grab my tacos. When I went to the cookie table, they told me, “Only one.” I was only eyeing one cookie anyhow. As I took my spot back at my own table, my neighbor introduced herself. She asked if I was the dentist as the banner behind me said dental. I said yes and gave her my name. In trying to get to know me better, she asked if my clinic was solely dedicated to special needs children. I said no, I have a private family practice. She then asked if I had a special needs kid. I said no. Puzzled, she asked, “Why are you here?” I kindly replied that I was the only dentist I know that would work with the special need population. Immediately she said, “Well, that’s not true. My dentist treats my special needs daughter.” I told her I don’t know her dentist and re-emphasized that I had said I’m the only one I know. Then she asked me why I wanted to be there. Honestly, at that moment, I didn’t want to be there as I walked in the rain for at least 5 minutes before finding the building. Then to be accused of lying was discouraging. But I gave her the answer I gave my office. I only have to give a few hours of my night to teach parents and students how to brush and floss properly, even with braces, was worth it. I prepared a pamphlet and added color pictures and illustrations for better understanding. The free toothbrushes were also a hit with the patrons. Like the cookie table, “only one” per person please. But you can take as many pamphlets as you like.
There were Vietnamese, Spanish and even Sign Language translators. I, of course, ran over to the ladies signing and said hello to show off my mad signing skills. That had to be the best part of my night. It was so fun and confusing at the same time. I can’t read hands moving at 50 mph. I’m good at 25 mph…like an old granny driving on the freeway. When I came back to my table, someone asked for 2 toothbrushes. I broke my own rule and gave her 3 since she told me she has 3 kids. I also explained that kids with manual dexterity or attention deficit issues should be using an electronic toothbrush, not a manual one. I don’t think she understood me as she put one toothbrush back down. Her daughter explained it to her and she grabbed that same toothbrush again.
From my observation seat, all I can think was how dedicated these organizers were as they went from table to table to thank everyone and made sure people are visiting each table accordingly. A Vietnamese translator gave me an extra cookie. He said,” You look like you could use a cookie, doctor.” I laughed as I’m sure I looked like a mess and exhausted. Towards the end of the event, I was packing up my things. When I was about to leave, I turned to my neighbors and said my goodbyes. Someone asked me if I was getting paid for my time. I said it was purely for charity. No one paid me or for my things. I bid her adieu. Back into the rain I went with whatever is left in my possession. This time, the rain has stopped. Even though it didn’t start out nicely, it definitely ended well. I gave some people important questions to ask their dental providers and information to look up. The little knowledge that I did share was appreciated. That made my trip and being wet worthwhile. I hope we all come together as a community to help one another out whenever possible. Any contribution is better than none.