Sunday, April 24, 2016

satisfied and hungry

I've been away from Penn on my oral surgery externship and learning a lot. None of this hair net life (pout optional) for a week-- just scalpels, I&D's, and many many extractions. I swear this is what my dad thinks I do as a dentist... because every time I talk to him after school he's asking how many teeth I've taken out that day.

This is the countdown:
1 week to end of externship
2 weeks to move-in date
3 weeks to graduation
Where did time go??

I cut my finger last weekend and spent an evening Facetiming all the doctors in my phone book. In one week, my little finger’s healed up miraculously fast, but I was convinced I would be capable of extracting class 3 mobility teeth only.  At a lunch meeting, the dentist emphasized taking care of ourselves- watching out for burnout, working out (get BIG), and eating well. And there I was, staring at my bandaged up pinky and greasy plate of pizza oils. It's a hard balance being kind to yourself (gosh I love caramel popcorn) and checking yourself (eating out every single day of the week? come on).

Some days I feel very big, and other days very small. I know so much already and still have so much to learn. Being humble and proud, satisfied and hungry, it's trix-tricky. I'm simultaneously ready to GET OUTTA HERE and stay a little longer.

Here's our group of lions at our senior dinner at the Union League last week...

...where not a single drop of tear left my face. Just sniffles.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

What I talk about when I talk about dentistry

It's beautiful April. The weather's nice enough that L and I are walking everywhere. Flowers are blooming in Rittenhouse Square in the most gorgeous way. We've been biking all over town, hoping our groceries will fit into our bike baskets. 

The big question for me has been: how much of dentistry plays into my identity? I mentioned it briefly in my last post and lately, I've been obsessed with this question. Examining myself during times when I'm not at work, constantly checking in to see if dentistry is on my mind...

I am beyond excited for my job next year (exhibit a: my little gushy post on Instagram)- but as usual, I have a bunch of questions: How much of my job will be my identity? Because we all love to ask that question: what do you do? If someone were to ask me what I'd been up to, I'd reply with all sorts of dental school news. Working on this case, with this interesting occlusion, etc etc...  

In the grocery line yesterday I was staring at a lady's arthritic hands-- very intently-- because it scared me to no end, that to me equals end of my career. To have a career that is very dependent on my body feels fragile, just as I'm sure athletes do as they get older, but I entered this profession thinking my brain was on the line. To know that my body is a very important vehicle for delivering that knowledge makes me nervous.

In other career-related thoughts, I've been thinking about chopping my hair into a bob. This is from college when I had my hair in a mushroom bob (we're in New Orleans for a lacrosse tournament!). To signal to the world and (more) to myself that graduation is a new beginning, entry into the grown-up world. New working dentist life.

I think to myself now, something as personal as a haircut shouldn't care about your career! This signals that I really do see myself as "Yesle the dentist", that this is a Venn diagram with a big overlap. As a perpetual dilettante who does many things (even in college I had lacrosse, swimming, running--  I was never good at any one of them) to have such a big CHUNK of my efforts/time devoted to this thing called dentistry.... it's a new concept and even after almost-four years of dental school, still novel.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

being positive/ dentist as my identity

I passed my boards everyone!!!! My assistant Valerie and I had almost one hundred cats between us: her socks, my shoes, our bags... I knew when I saw those meow-ey faces that it was going to be a good day.

I had a profound experience last week. A patient asked me about his fillings: "Are they gonna be tooth colored? Because I don't want it to be obvious in my mouth." I explained that some would have to be amalgam. He immediately changed gears and said, "In that case, that'll be like bling bling, I'm gonna like that." He completely switched gears to be HAPPY with the situation, radiating positivity.

My small but incredible achievement: I fit my entire down jacket into my Dagne Dover. It snowed one morning and my locker was already full-- I was so excited about this small achievement & showed it off to everyone in my perio rotation.

I have been thinking about my identity as a dentist. Or rather-- how much of being a dentist permeates into my identity. Much of my key characteristics fit into the typical dentist image: being neat, academic, compassionate-- and yet. There's more to me than my job. I want to keep running, do my pottery, see beautiful buildings... I've seen people who work INSANE hours i.e. my brother who was coming back at 2AM and leaving back at 6AM. And I mention my brother because his job is gonna keep him from attending my graduation- the one and only remaining graduation of my life (ahem)- but we get it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Worst week of my life

January 21 ~ 28, 2016.

That week is going to deserve a special chapter in my biography because my emotions were SO up and down. 

Boards exam being cancelled, not matching into a residency program, some hiccups in my personal life… And on top of it all, I was eating poorly, skipping gym, not sleeping through the night, and drinking too much... coffee. Self-care had been tossed out the window. 

I still took my “celebratory trip”- which I felt extremely undeserving of, but couldn't cancel because of airplane fee's $$$- but I’m glad I did. I put in all the hard work (regardless of outcome) and pulled through with a plan. I spent time with my oldest friends (my longest #LTR #9years) who know me well who both 1) took my mind off things and 2) gave me honest feedback. They also knew me enough to call me out when I'm being too self-pity boo-hoo.

My best friend with our matching necklaces

Since then, there’s been interesting developments I’m not ready to share publicly yet, but let’s say that the universe has a funny way of doing things. 

Snowstorm in Mt. Rainier National Park, where we went on a blind hike: 

What's helped me in terms of dealing with this huge personal disappointment: being vulnerably open with other people, seeing this as an opportunity to gain resilience, seeking others' thoughts/opinions, laughing over good food, and keeping busy. 

I'm identifying some parts of my character I want to develop: become less vain (a big part of my worry was that I'll seem like a failure to others), become more self-reliant (trust in my instinct and follow through w/my decisions), be flexible with changes (because have you seen my Google calendar?)

Not there yet, but getting there... 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On not matching into a residency

I am writing from a house-converted coffee shop in Dallas! This week's trip was supposed to be for celebration. Celebrating being done with boards and matching into the program of my dreams... Big cosmic joke HA HA. My licensing exam got delayed. I didn't match into a GPR. Odontoblast (our annual dental school formal) got cancelled.

I was a messy bundle of emotions Thursday (when our licensing exam got cancelled) to Monday (received email about not matching) onward. Playing my favorite song on repeat ("Every night you cry yourself to sleep thinking: "Why does this happen to me? Why does every moment have to be so hard?") Oh, dramatic mode was turned WAY up. Then...

How soon is too soon to be vulnerable to someone new? To be completely honest with others about how hurt/sad/upset you are? Do you admit you feel like a failure or deny it or open up to being comforted and reassured? Do I say "I am totally okay." Or "yeah, I do feel awful."

Because the universe knew exactly what I need. Even the licensing exam being cancelled was a blessing in disguise... I didn't open up the "we regret to tell you" email on exam day, two fillings and a quad to go.

Instead, Monday night I went out with good friends, ate good wings, and laughed a whole lot. I haven't finished responding to Facebook messages and emails from friends who showered me in an abundance of love. I thought I had a huge circus net twenty feet below me- turns out I was tethered in a harness right there mid-air. I only had to stumble a little to see that.

So everyone, although my plan isn't one I intended on- or one that I envisioned for myself, here we go. The thing that scares me the most-working and being a real grown up, starting this chapter, I am doing it.