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 every single time. 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.