Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Now we're the seniors.

It’s the craziest thing. The seniors are all gone. The seniors that looked so confident and so cool, were rumored to not spend hours poring over next day’s procedure (what!), and were on the verge of graduation. Now that’s us- the seniors.

My chair says "senior" so that must mean I'm one...


As Dr. N says, the train is coming and you feel the wind blowing in your face. 

Just call me Midas.

I’m graduating in less than year, you guys. My friend sent me a snapchat of this year’s graduation and I had an emotional moment. Sharon and I talk about this all the time: we’re going to graduate! We’re going to get out of here! This is impermanent! That giant toothbrush is coming for us!

I still have a checklist of procedures I want to do. But last week while doing a tricky procedure, I felt strangely calm and confident. Sometimes your ambitious day (I’m delivering FOUR inlays today! whoop!) is your humbling moment (it’s 6PM and I delivered all of one inlay, yay.) I have a good working knowledge of how materials work, what to look for when doing final cementations, and how to find relevant information (product catalogs and older/experienced dentists). The good days build on my confidence, the worse days keep me humble. Everything I do matters.

Thanks for sending me on a tearfest with this snap.

I'm still working on that swagger thing though. Can you believe that a key word of my dental school experience will be swagger? Among all the dentally relevant ones: convergence, retention, "slaking", pulp health... swagger.

Monday, May 25, 2015

pause here: getaway weekend

I'm at a coffee shop on a sunny morning & just fell off my chair trying to grab a pen under the table. Still feeling a little sick and dizzy. Time to go home after hitting that publish button? Definitely yes.

One sign of being burnt out: you can’t stop talking about work. Put a BIG RED checkmark on that because I’ve been singing the POINTS song in my sleep. Every time I fell quiet and looked pensive, my boyfriend didn’t have to ask what I was thinking about: dental school.


Last weekend, a group of us took a vacation to New Jersey. Huge grassy backyard, pool with a diving board, dinosaur mint leaves in the backyard, and the beach twenty minutes away.

For the long weekend, I read by the pool, slept in, ate amazing food (French toast and clams grilled over open fire), and melted into a sunny, non-dental bliss. Oh! And we went to Target. Very important.

I brought along Quiet by Susan Cain. Between this and Gretchen Rubin, I keep thinking about what GRubin says: “unique, just like everyone else”. Not everyone thinks the way I do, nor do they feel the things I do. Marcel sent me this thought-provoking link about universality of human experiences- more specifically, how they aren't. People experience reality in different ways. I’m experiencing this profoundly with Marcel, that we think in fundamentally different ways and prefer different activities (morning or night? dinner parties or drinks at a bar?).

This is what it comes down to: I might envy those who can work nonstop. Wake up at 5AM and write for two hours before work every day. Do it again the next day and the day after. But for me? As much as I admire this trait in others, I don’t function that way, I need to recharge and relax.

I must have smiled like an idiot the following week. I found myself daydreaming my way back to that happy place. Waking up at 7AM sans an alarm. Rest of the house is sleeping, so I tiptoe downstairs and step outside, barefoot. Sitting by the pool, hearing the birds calling and the sky so blue.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I laugh at my own dentist jokes

I'm going to tell you a dental joke. Here's why you should become an endodontist: no patient is gonna come to you and say, “I don’t like this color gutta percha.”

If you don''t get it, the joke is this: gutta percha is the rubber that goes inside the tooth during a root canal procedure & no one ever sees it. Color matching is an art in dentistry, especially for crowns and veneers... but not for gutta percha. 

Trying to convince your non-dentist boyfriend that you're actually funny- is one thing. Explaining specific dental procedures to interested patients is another- perhaps more real- challenge. 

try not to laugh when you find dental burs on the bathroom floor

I assume people know things: implants, fillings (simple versus inlays/onlays), and crowns. But to be honest with you, I didn't know the difference before dental school. What is a "prep"? (when you cut the tooth to prepare it for the filling). What is a "prophy"? (prophylactic cleaning, the usual 6 month visit to the dentist.) 

So when a patient asks me, "what are implants exactly?" I have to pause and consciously use those simple terms. Not too scary, but not condescending. Because sometimes, I am so darn impressed at myself using those fancy words: "sub-gingival chamfer needs to be more apical". Best thing: when you start using abbreviations like a badass. Sub gingival? Sub-G, dudes.

Everything becomes interesting in small pieces. For example, I'm learning all about the finance world thanks to my boyfriend and his roommate. I'm finally getting a grip on what seemed so hazy and mysterious to me. Analogies help. So do patience and humor.

my huge Texas grocery bag now carries all my dental lab goodies (and makes me smile)