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.