This past Sunday I went up to Chico, CA to volunteer as a healthcare provider for the evacuees in northern California. There was a church that acted as a makeshift ER room as the hospitals are overwhelmed with patients right now. There were a lot of nursing students from all over the Bay Area getting their experiences in. I was so happy to see all the doctors that I met on my shift were Vietnamese females. The doctors on the other shifts were also females. We rock.
I arrived with my family at 6 am. My kids continue to sleep in the car with my husband while I checked in. Since it was still early, volunteers checked-in in the dark.
It was about 8 am when we started to see mass movements. The church gymnasium served as a medical ward, the other rooms were family rooms with children’s playroom, the back of the church housed a tent city, and army tents were triages. There were about 200+ people seeking shelter at the church. There were also homeless people in the area seeking refuge from the cold and air pollution. No one was turned away. People and their pets slept together, along with their food waste and garbage. There was also a norovirus breakout just days before.
We walked around, asked people if they needed help with anything. We brought food and drinks to their cot. We helped them onto their commode, changed their bandage, removed their IV, gave medications, even babysat their children. Emotions were higher in the family unit as young parents with multiple children stuck in a little room for a week, were easily agitated and aggravated. I had to personally step in between a young mother with her sick infant and her older children before she got physical with them. It was sad and completely understandable. A nurse took the infant and I took the older children to allow mom to exhale.
The evacuees were grateful. Food were being served all day long with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snacks in between. It was hard to get medical history on anyone as their health centers burnt down. As it was Sunday, many places were closed. This is the epitome of a start over. They don’t have a choice. Some younger folks were looking forward to a new beginning, be it in Paradise, CA or a new place. A combat veteran on disability told me he was contemplating a move to the east coast so this maybe his incentive to do so after he receives his FEMA check. It was good to hear people planning their future. There were some sense of hopelessness but the majority were optimistic. Most of the guests at the church were senior citizens and a quarter were psyche ward residents. They appreciated the fact that there were so many people there ready and willing to help.
Please continue to donate and help wherever you can for the people who lost their homes, both in northern and southern California. We are burning at both ends. It is bad. The air quality here is like being in a smoke-filled room 24/7. We need rain. Somebody make it rain. Millions have been praying. Please continue to pray. Our hearts and efforts will continue to help the victims of the Camp fire. We hope that you will start as well, or continue until things are more settled. Please help. Thank you.
This one seems to be giving us the finger or it is doing the gymnastic pose where the legs are over the back of its head. Typically, I would say a wisdom tooth extraction is complicated but this tooth brought it up to another whole new level of …OMG! Where did this thing come from? Yea, we were proud of ourselves as it came out in one piece and the patient was fine with recovery. I wouldn’t let my assistant throw it into the hazardous waste bag yet; I’m keeping it as a trophy for the next couple of years.
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.